Full citation

Gerwin, D. (1993). Integrating Manufacturing into the Strategic Phases of New Product Development. California Management Review, 35(4), 123-136.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation:  This article reports the findings of four in-depth interviews conducted with large high-tech firms in the United States. The paper identifies the benefits and challenges of integrating manufacturing personnel throughout the NPD process — with an emphasis on front-end involvement. Ways to integrate manufacturing into cross-functional teams are explored, as are methods for establishing manufacturing personnel's credibility amongst other functional groups.

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

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

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

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

Primary Findings

Tips:

  • Cross-functional teams should be given opportunities to work on projects outside of the traditionally high-pressure new product development projects. Doing so gives the team a chance to develop relationships and learn to work out their problems without the added pressure of new product development deadlines.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
  • Including manufacturing personnel in cross-functional teams early on in the NPD process can be highly beneficial. Enables potential problems to be uncovered and addressed before they become too costly; ensures that production processes will be available to produce selected product features; helps other departments to understand manufacturing capabilities and limitations.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Stage 1, Stage 2
  • Manufacturing can offer reality checks and alternative solutions when interacting with R&D, product planning, and marketing teams early on.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Stage 2
  • Include personnel from manufacturing in visits with customers to give customers confidence that the product will meet their needs.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.1
  • Manufacturing units should have personnel that is dedicated specifically to new product development, and is not involved in general operations.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 1.3
  • Frequent or infrequent meetings can be used to help integrate manufacturing personnel into cross-functional teams. This integration of manufacturing serves to inform other units of manufacturing constraints (i.e. assembly and testing requirements) and ensure that manufacturing personnel are aware of long range plans. Regular meetings early in the process also help to ensure that manufacturing will have the necessary production equipment in place at the appropriate time.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Stage 1
  • Include manufacturing personnel in competitive analyses — their knowledge will help with comparisons to competitors products and is also useful for reverse engineering activities.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 2.2
  • To be accepted in earlier phases of the new product development process, manufacturing personnel must focus on establishing credibility with other business units. This can be done by: planning to satisfy down-stream requests from product planning and design; developing a mutual understanding of expectations for all parties; providing useful cost estimates; and developing a common knowledge base.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Stage 1, Stage 2
  • Have manufacturing personnel attend market research activities such as focus groups to ensure that they understand customer requirements.
    Interviews with four high-tech firms.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.11