With the cut-throat world of business growing by the day, shedding some light on global product development process is an important topic to discuss. Let’s take a better look at this process in order to unearth how product managers of organizations can steer their organizations in knowing where to leverage this growing phenomenon as a means to gain a dramatic increase in productivity within their product development operation.
Activities Involved in Global Product Development
Global product development entails reconfiguring product development activities in various parts of the world with an eye toward maximizing productivity while mitigating risk. While offshoring and outsourcing are the major facets of the globalization of tasks, most of the activities involved in this process mainly revolve around the following major activities which are set out by the product manager of the organization and the management board:
- Marketing activities that identify and document customer needs
- Engineering activities that conceptualize
- Design, analyze and refine new product ideas
- Activities that plan and document manufacturing, operation, and maintenance processes
- Sustaining activities that make ongoing product changes and refinements
Outsourcing VS Offshoring
Outsourcing and offshoring leads to four modes of product development namely: centralized, local outsourcing, captive offshoring and global outsourcing. While the centralized mode is the traditional one, local outsourcing entails use on-site contractors in supporting product development activities while captive offshoring is applied when a company sets out to own a product development operation in a region in which it has not done business before. Global outsourcing is the opposite of local outsourcing, meaning that it entails involving the global community in the product development process.
Breaking Down The Global Product Development Process
There are several stages of the product development cycle. Each stage has its own different environmental, quality and safety objectives that need to be met before proceeding to the next stage. Obviously, the smooth flow of the entire process depends on the enthusiasm of the product manager.
Stage One: Setting Strategic Goals
At this stage, the scope of the project is defined by balancing project targets, development requirements and alternative solutions. To create a good strategic plan, a company is required to involve stakeholders in goal setting, seek international, national, internal and external knowledge and think outside the box. This is the most important phase of globalization of tasks because it identifies the essence of the whole process. The main challenge here is setting unclear strategic and static goals.
Stage Two: Strategic Planning
At this stage, a company establishes its current position and identifies its desired position after the globalization process. A comprehensive strategic plan or roadmap is then chosen through a process of market research, environmental impact assessments, and the business case.
In addition, to create a good strategic plan a company needs to:
- Involve all stakeholders in mapping the current organizational position in the market as well as physical locations for organizational units, suppliers, customers, etc
- Make a communication and a responsibility plan, including evaluation phases to ensure a common vision is created
- Make a conscious strategic plan which considers the role and goal with global product development
- Make provisions for future changes in the plans
Stage Three: Operational Planning
Depending on the set objectives, the company may have to decide on various factors pertaining to the location, changes to the current organizational structures and processes and integrating communication systems to allow the global approach of doing business.
On top of involving all the stakeholders of the company, the product manager should see to it that the operational planning includes information on:
- Developing scenarios of what would happen if a given task is moved; what is affected and how would these elements (human, organizational and technical) need to be changed to support and encourage globalization
- Writing down how a task is solved today, who is involved and what knowledge each actor (human or technical) brings in order to define and clarify all interfaces
- Taking a technical feasibility study
Stage Four: The Implementation Phase
After setting strategic goals, coming up with a strategic plan and making the necessary operational changes, it is now time to implement. This stage involves building, verifying, validating and ratifying the product solution. At this stage, the company faces organizational challenges, not to mention difficulties in cross-cultural collaboration and knowledge sharing across distances.
To counter these challenges, the company should consider amending its organizational aspects and create a continuous learning environment. All said and done, market, aftermarket, manufacturing and assembly solutions need to be refined by conducting feasibility studies in this stage.
Stage Five: The Industrialization and Commercialization Phase
There is a thin line between the implementation phase and this stage. This is the stage where the industrial system developed so far is installed, prepared and verified to enable production.
Stage Six: The Launch of the Product and the Aftermarket Products
At this stage, the globalization product is ready for production and entering the market. It is thus launched in the most effective method to enhance global recognition. Moreover, market tests should be conducted at this stage where the future customers are involved.
Stage Seven: Review and Finish of the Project
When the product has been launched on the market, the product team should observe the process and maybe suggest something for improvement. This is what will give the company the cutting edge over its competitors, and with the need to survive highly competitive markets, this stage is very crucial.
Though the afore-mentioned steps are crucial in development of a company, the product manager should ensure that they are not followed blindly. They may vary depending on the nature of the company and the economic stability at that time. In fact, by simply rearranging product development activities and personnel in a globally distributed fashion that better aligns cost structures with levels of value-add, companies can immediately increase product development productivity substantially, enjoying tremendous cost savings.
Concisely, we all know that products form the backbone of a manufacturing company’s success, and therefore global product development is a mission critical process that cannot be ignored. It is worth noting that the process requires participation of all members of the institution for it to be successful.
Precisely, it requires a hardworking product manager, a handful of truly critical members of the organization who embody the company’s knowledge of the market and its product lines, and then a tremendous supporting cast who help to see those ideas get fully developed and realized. This way, global product development is as an easy and smooth process.