Full citation

Maffin, D., Thwaites, A., Alderman, N., Braiden, P., & Hills, B. (1997). Managing the Product Development Process: Combining Best Practice with Company and Project Contexts.Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 9(1), 53-74.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: The purpose of this study was to determine if the popular best practices discussed in product development literature are applicable for different types of businesses operating in various contexts. Medium and large engineering companies in the UK were surveyed about their current practices in product development. Results showed that the best practices in the literature are over generalized and do not take into consideration smaller companies or different types of projects.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Large business, Small business (less than 500 employees), University

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Manufacturers, Researchers

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Sector

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary Findings


  • Consider company size and project type or context before following certain new product development best practices. Some published best practices are too general to apply in all situations. Particularly smaller companies and those who do contract based projects tend to not follow the general best practices.
    The survey of 58 UK companies revealed that not all best practices are followed by all types of companies or with all types of projects.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Applies to entire Model
  • Place the most emphasis on price, followed by quality, reliability, performance, delivery lead time, and conformance issues when considering competitive strategies.
    Survey of UK companies showed these were the most important competitive criteria.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 2.1
  • Involve functional managers within new product development projects, especially if your company is smaller.
    Survey. Companies who used the matrix form or functional type of project organization found the use of functional managers to be positive or inconsequential.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.1
  • Create and follow a standard company template for a generic new product development process.
    Survey found 87% of companies followed this best practice.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Applies to entire Model

Secondary Findings

Tip: Incorporate all relevant requirements and constraints within the design specifications. Good specifications are essential for product design success. (Andreasen, M. M. & Hein, L. [1987])
Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 6.7