The following list represents the Key Program Objectives (KPO) for the Appleton Greene Product Lifecycle corporate training program.
Product Lifecycle – Year 1
- Part 1 Month 1 Strategic Planning
It is vital to begin by establishing company requirements and defining the criteria for success. Companies vary in what they produce and how they sell it. Once these requirements and criteria are defined, work can begin on establishing a channel for the product to flow through and information relevant to the product can be made available centrally to all those who are relevant to its lifetime in the market. Shortcomings in existing processes can also be highlighted here and those areas necessary for gaining or maintaining a competitive advantage identified.
- Part 1 Month 2 Consolidate Information
No matter what process or solution is employed, it is necessary to gather all data and information pertinent to the product in one central location. This will allow access to all relevant people and reduce redundancy, rework or conflicts in design or development.
- Part 1 Month 3 Establish Collaboration
Once all the information is centralized, access to it should be provided to different teams and collaborations made mandatory. Design, manufacturing, procurement and sales units should work together to ensure the most relevant product.
- Part 1 Month 4 Automate Information
All subsequent development work to a product, design or otherwise, should feed back into the information repository to allow continued access to relevant information. There may be several potential changes or developments underway at any point. An automated system should allow the most updated information to be accessible.
- Part 1 Month 5 Product Design
If there are any changes to the product design being worked on, then timely communication of the same to the manufacturing unit will allow them to have the necessary raw materials on hand to begin manufacture as soon as the design is complete. Similarly, if a new product design is to be sold to the customer, the marketing unit should have sufficient time to plan for and promote this in the market to generate interest. This link is vital to the success of the product in its life cycle.
- Part 1 Month 6 External Communication
In the same concept as above, it is a good idea to communicate with suppliers and end users. Suppliers can be informed of changes and new part requirements and customer feedback and requirements can be incorporated into the product designs and redesigns. A focus on these 6 points will be a step towards ensuring a longer and more successful growth stage for the product in its life cycle.
- Part 1 Month 7 Creating Simplicity
All kinds of costs associated with a PLM can be managed by automating the process and making full use of its features. Users of the system should have as much autonomy to manage their own tasks as possible. Information should be clear and easy to access and use.
- Part 1 Month 8 Encouraging Flexibility
The work and rework associated with a product during its lifecycle can be optimized by ensuring that redesigns are easy to add on to existing products without starting from scratch. All processes should have standard definitions to avoid overlap and conflicts.
- Part 1 Month 9 Time-to-Market
With a central repository of data, a product can be developed much faster from design to prototype and launch. There is less rework and less redundancy of effort. This results in quicker time to market and allows the business to stay ahead of competitors and establish customer loyalty.
- Part 1 Month 10 Compliance Risks
Because all areas that work on the product have the same information, it becomes easier to stay compliant with any laws and regulations. This reduces risks of expensive recalls, legal action and loss of sale and consumers.
- Part 1 Month 11 Reduce Costs
As a result of better communication and collaboration, there is significantly less re-work and re-design as the product incorporates necessary consumer features and compliance requirements during initial design runs. This helps reduce costs associated with multiple design and product testing iterations.
- Part 1 Month 12 Increase Productivity
One more benefit of common and easy to access information is increased productivity. There is significantly less time spent on replicating data, requesting for information, waiting for approvals and basic research. Relevant updated data allows everyone to focus on the task at hand and not be overrun by unproductive parallel activities.
Product Lifecycle – Year 2
- Part 2 Month 1 Increased Revenue
With reduced costs, faster time to market, and relevant products that fulfil a customer need, a PLM system can directly help accelerate revenue growth. The more relevant and reliable a product is, the more loyal its customer base and in turn, more sales when this loyalty is converted to purchase behavior.
- Part 2 Month 2 Encouraging Innovation
With teams being able to work together and share information, there is more time to focus on innovation without compromise on quality or time to market. New designs and features as well as new products can be introduced to meet the changing needs of the consumer base.
- Part 2 Month 3 Product Quality
A combined source of information and a unified strategy ensures that there is consistency in product quality. Through the PLM processes, it is possible to build checks for product quality into all the necessary processes and ensure customer satisfaction.
- Part 2 Month 4 Operational Benefits
Overall, a successful PLM allows operational benefits to the company in three major areas: Internal efficiency is the easiest benefit of PLM to prove. This involves streamlining areas such as R&D, manufacturing as well as prototype development and testing; Efficiency for suppliers – this area offers a lot of room to reduce costs and earn better return on investment. A successful PLM process will focus on a lower cost design which will then need less complicated parts and fewer steps to production. Efficiency in this area also means more effective purchase and customer service process; Efficiency for customers – an important operational benefit of a PLM process is a more focused understanding of customer needs and requirements. This leads to better product design with less redundant features and less unnecessary product development or re-design steps. This in turn leads to more satisfied and loyal customer who will not only purchase repeatedly but hopefully also endorse the product.
- Part 2 Month 5 Maintenance – Step 1
Create an enterprise wide framework to define PLM capabilities – Here, the company needs to identify what the actual PLM activities are and then re-evaluate existing PLM capabilities. All processes, their applications, relevant metrics and data that follow the product through its lifecycle need to be carefully studied and their effectiveness critically evaluated. This process can help identify any incoherent or disconnected areas and work on streamlining these. This activity can also help ensure that all metrics measure what they should.
- Part 2 Month 6 Maintenance – Step 2
Link PLM framework’s capabilities to key corporate and product priorities – Based on the company’s strategic focus, a few relevant metrics should be identified to measure the performance of the product development activities. These should not be linked to the performance of one function or team but to the entire cross functional activity.
- Part 2 Month 7 Maintenance – Step 3
Use the prioritized PLM framework as an investment planning tool – The results gathered from the metrics put in place can feed directly into investment planning activities. Stakeholders can assess this information and make relevant decisions regarding future products and their potential impact.
- Part 2 Month 8 Maintenance – Step 4
Establish a group to own and update the PLM framework and corporate roadmap – To make the PLM and its output a permanent feature in the organization rather than alone project, it is a necessary step to form a special team to work on making the PLM process sustainable and ensure its continued relevance to the organization. This team needs to have complete support from senior management and a sponsor from amongst the executive group.
- Part 2 Month 9 Changing Position
The framework of the product-process matrix concept provides an excellent vehicle for understanding why these problems occur and how they can be minimized. No matter how tightly focused and coordinated a company might be, any change in the relative positioning of either its products or its production processes will expose it to two kinds of danger. The first follows a change in either dimension without a corresponding change in the other so that there is a reduction in focus and increased difficulty in coordinating manufacturing and marketing. A company that automates its production process without understanding the problems that such automation is likely to cause for its marketing organization is laying the groundwork for a potentially acrimonious future relationship between the two functions. It is also impairing its ability to compete as effectively as can companies that have coordinated and matched more closely the changes in their product and process structures. The second difficulty, possibly even more dangerous than the first, follows when a company tries to respond to a change on one dimension by broadening its activity on the other; such as responding to a product shift, not with a corresponding shift in the production process but by adding an additional process.
- Part 2 Month 10 Loss of Focus
The need for focus is quite well understood by marketing people. They segment markets and design products, prices, promotional strategies, and sales organizations to meet the specific imperatives of each segment. If the needs of one segment are quite different from those of another, they do not hesitate to pursue different strategies, and they often use different people in responding to these needs. Concentrating on a restricted segment of activities is just as important in manufacturing, but unfortunately the resistance to piecemeal changes and incremental expansion tends often to be lower there. The packaging operation of a major consumer products manufacturer provides an illustration of this latter difficulty. The sole reason for the division’s existence in the corporation was to offer a low-cost source for a highly specialized packaging product. This division, which was evaluated as a profit center, found that it could increase its revenues and profits considerably if it augmented its basic product lines with some new, less standardized, higher priced products. However, as the division pursued this additional business, it encountered pressure to change its process so that it could better meet the needs of its new customers. Responding to such pressures, the division began to dilute the focus it had maintained for several years. Another example is a company that found its standardized product line being challenged by other, more marketing-oriented companies that were seeking to segment the market and target specialized forms of the product for each segment. When the company responded by expanding its own line to offer specialized products, it found that its high-volume, standardized production processes were not economical at those lower volumes and that it could not compete effectively with other companies which had designed their processes for the specific volume and product standardization of their segments of the market. In both of these examples, if the company had considered coordinated, compensating changes in both the product and the process dimensions, it would have selected options that maintained or increased its competitive competence rather than simply tried to broaden its activity on one dimension or the other, which diluted its past competence. While the matrix concept can explain the causes of many failures in previously healthy companies, it can provide even more useful insights for planning product and process changes. Since planning for growth concentrates management attention on decisions regarding both product and process activities, growth is a natural framework for the next segment of this discussion.
- Part 2 Month 11 Planning Growth
Companies typically pursue four major types of growth. Going from the simpler types to the more complex, these can be summarized as follows: Simple growth of sales volume within an existing product line and market; Expansion of the product line within a single market, using an existing process structure (often called product proliferation); Expansion of the process structure (usually termed vertical integration); and Expansion into new products and markets. While other forms of growth exist, they can generally be viewed as variations or combinations of these four types. Thus an understanding of the demands that each might place on manufacturing and marketing can do much to aid in planning for continued coordination and focus of these functions. The problems that companies often encounter when they vertically integrate, even in the simplest case where they begin making a part that they formerly bought from an outside supplier, can be significant. What is usually involved is not simply an expansion of the company’s processes but the production of a completely different product that may be at a very different point on the matrix. In other words, the company may have to think in terms of an additional matrix for that component part or raw material and develop strategies for it that are very different from those selected for the original end product. If this is not done, the company may be tempted to produce the new part with a process and an organizational structure that are completely inappropriate.
- Part 2 Month 12 Vertical Integration
Growth based on broadening the scope of the production process (vertical integration) can also be understood more clearly by using our matrix. In a manner analogous to product proliferation, this form of growth occurs when a company maintains existing processes and adds either less standardized, more flexible processes (forward integration) or more standardized, less flexible processes (backward integration) in hopes of either increasing sales volume and market responsiveness or reducing costs and improving dependability.