Critical Success Factors
in a Furniture
Development Process



Furniture design process
review through a Finnish-
Japanese...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
    Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanes...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                          Furniture design pr...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
    Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanes...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                        Furniture design proc...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
    Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanes...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                          Furniture design pr...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
    Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanes...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                               Furniture desi...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                      Furniture design proces...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                       Furniture design proce...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                         Furniture design pro...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                         Furniture design pro...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                       Furniture design proce...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                         Furniture design pro...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                        Furniture design proc...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                     Furniture design process...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                        Furniture design proc...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                        Furniture design proc...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                          Furniture design pr...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                        Furniture design proc...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                          Furniture design pr...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                      Furniture design proces...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                         Furniture design pro...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                          Furniture design pr...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
                                        Furniture design proc...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process-
     Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japane...
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process

12,981

Published on

The work by the Designer presented here, the chair and the written thesis were the outcome of a project carried out under the Invited Overseas Designers program organized between Oribe Design Centre and University of Art and Design Helsinki. The client in this project was a Japanese furniture manufacturer Toyoisu Co, Ltd. The official part of the project started on the 19th of September 2006 and carried on until 18th of January 2007. The final result of the project was a chair called Neo which was launched commercially in March 2008 in Japan.
The chair made out three-dimensionally curved steel pipe chair was designed to support user in comfort. The chair is conceived to change the atmosphere and give a new face to offices and shops. The gap between the back of the seat and the pipe frame gives elasticity to the backrest and makes it comfortable even when sitting for a long time. Neo-chairs are stackable and available in other colours and materials for special orders.
The written work is a review of the critical success factors of the product development process used in the furniture industry. The thesis draws together the best practices of established companies, together with thoughts presented in the main product development literature. In the end, it looks at the experience of the designer in the program in the light of the findings of the literature review and the interview based case studies, to conclude in describing practices that can be seen to be critical in determining the success of a furniture development project

Published in: Design, Business
9 Comments
20 Likes
Statistics
Notes
No Downloads
Views
Total Views
12,981
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
3
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
7
Comments
9
Likes
20
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process

  1. 1. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process Furniture design process review through a Finnish- Japanese design project. Antti Pitkänen Industrial and Strategic Design University of Art and Design Helsinki MA Thesis Tutor: Johanna Vuorio Avarte
  2. 2. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Antti Pitkänen Industrial and Strategic Design University of Art and Design Helsinki MA Thesis Tutor: Johanna Vuorio, Avarte 2
  3. 3. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Table of Contents 1. Introduction 6 Starting Point 6 Purpose 6 Research Question 7 Terminology 8 Introduction of the main areas of study 8 2. Invited Overseas Designers program 12 General Background of the Program 12 Oribe design Centre and the Universities 13 Chair as a Process 14 Experienced Design Management as Guidance 26 The Many Needs of the Deliverables 27 3. Theory: New Product Development process 31 Definition of New Product Development Process 31 The Main Advantages of a Well-defined Process 32 Breaking Down the Process 34 Roles in the Process 42 Deliverables Produced During a Process. 43 4. Case: Avarte 48 Sniffing out the Global Trends 48 Flexibility in Creativity 49 A Close Circle of Friends 50 Heavy Reports and Assessments Forms not Needed 51 5. Case: Fritz Hansen 52 A Philosophical Approach to the Challenges in the Process 52 Two Years to Showroom 53 A Strong Role of Brand Management in New Product Development 54 Detailed Documentation to Commit the Stakeholders. 55 6. Case: Martela 56 Ideas from Many Sources 56 Selling the Idea Throughout the Process 58 The Many Players of the Development Process 58 The Importance of the Brief 60 7. Conclusions 62 Success factors 64 Further Recommendations 69 3
  4. 4. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. List of Figures Figure 1. Structure of the Thesis. 9 Figure 2. Examples of the Mood boards. 16 Figure 3. Figure Example of the 2D Illustrations. 17 Figure 4. Visualizations of the presented concepts. 18 Figure 5. Visualization of the 5th concept. 19 Figure 6. Development of the Neo-N concept. 20 Figure 7. Pictures of the model making. 21 Figure 8. Test model with the frame and the seat 22 Figure 9. Marketing material for Neo by Oribe Design Centre. 23 Figure 10. Photography of the Neo chair by Oribe Design Centre. 24 Figure 11. Photography of the Neo chair by Oribe Design Centre. 25 Figure 12. The Generic Product Development Process (Ulrich & Eppinger) 35 Figure 13. The New Product development process (Jones / 1997 / p.xii) 37 Figure 14. Stage-Gate Process by Cooper 39 Figure 15. The Tasks and Responsibilities of the Key functions. (Ulrich & Eppinger)) 45 Figure 16. The Lead Roles of the Key functions. (Tim Jones) 46 Figure 17. Avarte chairs (www.avarte.fi) 48 Figure 18. Fritz Hansen chairs (www.fritzhansen.com) 52 Figure 19. Chairs by Martela (www.martela.fi) 56 4
  5. 5. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Acknowledgements I would like to thank all those that have supported and contributed to the creation of this thesis. The thesis took a year and a half to finish and during this time I have seen places and met people that have made me feel a fortunate person to be doing what I am doing. First and foremost I would like to thank Yoko Asano and the staff at the Oribe Design Centre for the work that they have done to make a project such as the Invited Overseas Designers program to exist, giving designers such as myself a chance to participate in creating something truly great. I would also like to thank the client company, Toyoisu, in making the project such an interesting experience. A big thank you also goes to my tutor, Johanna Vuorio, for having kept the door open for me to come and talk about the ideas and challenges that I was confronted by. All of the interviewed companies were open in sharing information and in answering my ques- tions In particular, I would like to thank Christian Grosen Rasmussen from Fritz Hansen, as well as Pekka Toivola and Kimmo Sundström from Martela. To my new and old colleagues that opened your pools of knowledge I’m in eternal gratitude, in particular to Veijo Hertell who proved to be a library of good information and advice during this time. To my family and those close to me I would like to firstly apologize, as you have had to par- ticipate in this rather intense journey, and thank you for making it bearable. To my girlfriend, Laura, thank you standing by me despite the long trips and ill communicated hours in front of the computer. To all the professors and staff of the universities that I have attended during these years of my masters, thank you for the support and time that you have so generously shared. To all those people that I forgot or didn’t mention a collective appreciation for all your time and understanding. 5
  6. 6. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. 1. Introduction Starting Point This thesis is a description of a project carried out under specific time, space and cultural con- straints. It is a description of a journey of learning through different contexts that have shaped the final outcome. At the time when the project started I had very little previous experience in working in the fur- niture industry. My skills and experience were from the product development in the industrial context, ephemeral architecture and design consulting. Facing the new challenges of the fur- niture project that I set on, I found myself in the need of finding out what the standard or the best ways of working within this new context were. The following description is an attempt to get to the root of the issues behind furniture development, by tackling it from various different angles and using available resources within certain time constraints. Purpose My interest to investigate this theme has risen from the wish to understand the bigger picture behind the issues related to New Product Development Processes and further to evaluate my performance and the methodologies that I have used during the course of the Invited Over- seas Designers program. I believe that having had this experience has improved my skills as a designer and developed my capabilities to take part in projects of similar characteristics in the future. For the community around me I hope this analysis will serve as a description of some of the areas of product development in the furniture industry. During the course of the research for this thesis, I found to my surprise that there was actually very little publicly available information on the methods and underlying processes used in developing products in the furniture industry. I hope to have brought some light to what those best practices are within this industry and to have raised some new questions to be looked at in more detail in the future. To all those students planning to attend the Invited Overseas Designers program or any other similar program, I hope this thesis will make it easier to decide to set on an adventure to chal- lenge yourself and the skills that you have grown accustomed to, always remembering to be 6
  7. 7. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. critical and observant of the mechanisms that affect our role as designers in a much wider context, in that of a new product development. Research Question What are the key factors that promote the success of a furniture development process? The aspects of success are very much determined by the context by which they are judged upon. Success relies heavily on the expectations that are imposed to every single project. As such it can be seen that there are many different grades of success. Let’s discuss this idea a bit further: Can the process of developing products be considered a success if it manages to answer the initial brief? Can it still be a success if it hasn’t answered the brief at all, but has brought out a completely new result which benefits the client company´s core business and opens new possibilities? Is new product a success, if it is a commercial failure? Success is something that we aim to in all areas of our daily operations. It is also an area where design still needs to prove its capabilities in. As the design profession is a moderately new member the functions of corporate operations, it is often faced with the challenge of proving its role in creating value in the same way as marketing or technology innovations do. One of the major problems is that design, in the common perception, is seen to be the influencing factor on aesthetic and functional aspects of a product in development. Aesthetics on the other hand has very much to do with the way it is perceived, making it a dimension that is hard to measure. How do you then evaluate whether a product has been successful or that it possesses what was desired or needed? The development of new products is nearly always a job which is done as a part of a larger entity. Seldom is there just one person or one department involved in the development of a new product. In order to get to the root of the discussion behind the factors influencing new product development, it’s also important to see the other tasks that are carried alongside design. Often these individual actions are carried out as sequential or parallel activities, repeating them- selves in all projects but in infinite configurations with infinite results. This is why it’s important to look at the order in which they are done and how they relate to each other, that is to say to the process. In this thesis I have attempted to answer the question of success in the product development process in the furniture industry, by looking at the roles that are played within the 7
  8. 8. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. process, the structure, that is to say the stages that the process is built of, and the outputs that it creates. Terminology For the purpose of this thesis I have used the term design, as the more narrow term linked to that of applied arts and in further in reference to physical objects. This defines the act of design in relation to visual appearance and human factors (Cagan & Vogel, 2002, p.139) and excludes the other definitions used in reference to architecture, graphic design, engineering, service de- sign etc. Under the definition used during this thesis it will involve industrial design, i.e. design applied to industrial production and further furniture design as the design act specific to the furniture industry. The reason to make this distinction is due to the fact that the two disciplines are often taught as separate degrees, and are seen by those that practice it as separate crafts, requiring a different set of skills. However the borderline is often blurry and hard to define as concluded by the work presented here. Process will be defined during the course of the thesis more in a more detail manner, but for the time being it can be considered as a sequence of steps that transforms a set of inputs into a set of outputs. The term of New Product Development Process refers to the process of conceiving, designing and commercializing a product (Ulrich & Eppinger / 2003 / p.12). Success is defined by the encyclopaedia as the “achievement of a desired end”. In the case of “Success- the this thesis it will be used in reference to New Product Devel- achievement of a de- opment process. Hence, a product that is conceived, de- sired end” signed and commercialized can therefore be considered a success. Encyclopaedia Introduction of the main areas of study This thesis consists of three parts. First, there is the analysis of the project in which I took part in realized under the Invited Overseas Designers program. In the second part I have taken upon to make a literature review on New Product Development Processes and the building blocks that they are constructed of. The third major part is the description in the form of the three case studies, of three very different Nordic furniture manufacturing companies and their 8
  9. 9. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. approach to product development process. In the end these three different areas of study are tied in together through an evaluation of those methods used and results described in the project, the general theory and the case ex- amples, and are further discussed in the light of the research question (Figure 1). The project used as the main case study is the outcome of an Invited Overseas Designers program organized in-between Oribe Design Centre and University of Art and Design Helsinki. The client in this case was a moderately small Japanese furniture manufacturer, Toyoisu Co, Ltd., for whom I performed as the designer. The official part of the project started on the 19th of September 2006 and continued until 18th of January 2007. The final result of the project is 1. INTRODUCTION 2. INVITED OVERSEAS DESIGNERS PROGRAM 3. NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THEORY 4. AVARTE 5. FRITZ HANSEN 6. MARTELA 7. CONCLUSIONS Figure 1. Structure of the Thesis. a chair called Neo that was launched commercially in March 2008 in Japan. The Invited Overseas Designers program was created to generate new products and products concepts for the local companies operating in and around Gifu prefecture and to serve as an opportunity for the designer to acquire skills and experience required working in a foreign envi- ronment. The program has been running since 2001 and originally the projects were directed towards the needs of the important ceramics industry operating in the area, but in the last couple of years other projects such as lighting and furniture design have been undertaken. Projects realized during this program have varied greatly, imposing a range of different kinds of requirements on the management capabilities of the design centre. This is due to the nature of the project as the realization time of the projects are short, distances long and cultures often 9
  10. 10. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. very different. Nevertheless, Oribe Design Centre has a very closely studied and designed program, a process through which they have managed to obtain success for many projects. A great deal of this is due to the high level expertise within the organization that has enabled minimize risks and plan up front the whole time during the participation of each of the design- ers. New Product Development processes are widely studied in the scholarly community and are often adapted to the industry requirements to be used in various ways. By researching into the more popular schools of thought of New Product Development processes I have managed to develop my understanding of the general structure and the building blocks which form and influence the New Product Development process. In order to limit the scope of the analysis I have chosen three models generally accepted by the community. The first of them is the New Product Development process developed by Tim Jones which is probably the closest to the product design point of view. The second model is the Stage-Gate model by Robert G. Cooper (Winning at New Products), a model applicable to many different kinds of product developing industries. The third model is that of Karl Ulrich and Steven Eppingers’ Generic Product De- velopment Process (Product Design and Development) which makes a special emphasis on how different functions inside the companies fit to a single process model. During the course of the literature review I have also found many interesting ideas in other sources but have kept them more in a supporting and deepening role in order to keep the discussion in a controllable dimension. The theoretical framework has been illustrated and supported with three interview based ar- ticles. They have allowed me to look at the way new products are developed in three very dif- ferent, yet firmly established Nordic Furniture manufacturing companies. To this I resorted as for my surprise I found that there was very little publicly available material on furniture industry specific New Product Development processes. This is very interesting as the industry is known to very quickly produce and modify according the market specific needs, and many of the com- panies operate on an international field. The case companies were chosen according to their specific field in which they work in, their good reputation and their willingness to share their knowledge for the purpose of this essay. Focusing my efforts to observe the project as a process and making the literature analysis 10
  11. 11. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. together with the interviews has also helped me to reduce the possible subjective interpreta- tion of the events that took place during my participation in the Invited Overseas Designers program. On the other hand breaking down the discussion of the development of a chair as a process has allowed me to define the factors that are crucial for me to as a designer to take into account when participating in new product development projects. 11
  12. 12. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. 2. Invited Overseas Designers program General Background of the Program The development for the Invited Overseas Designers program started out as a design and cul- tural exchange program in June 1997, but it was not until 2000 when the design development “Purpose: To develop projects took a form somewhat similar to the present one. new value-added Oribe Design Centre opened its doors in April 2001 and the products, which po- first students took part in the program. The product develop- tentially tap the mar- ment projects further developed to take the present structure ket and contribute to in April 2005, by which design development is carried out in revitalization of the designer’s country of residence including two visits to Gifu local industry” for meetings during the period of development, and the par- ticipation of the design advisors. Until 2007 four projects were conducted under the program every fiscal year, but adding to those some of the projects that have taken from one year to another to finish and projects that have been carried out with Japanese designers, there are many more active projects than the four at any point in time. The Invited Overseas Designers program is designed for each fiscal year from April 1st to March 31st. It is designed to finish within the fiscal year and each year the contract period of each designer and contract details are designed reflecting back on the feedback of the previ- ous year’s projects. Until a couple of years ago the program used to last for 4 months, but due to the feedback from previous years about the program being too tight, in 2007 the program was changed so that the part of the program in which the designer participated now lasts for 6 months. The actual projects stay active in the Oribe Design Centre after participation of the de- signer has ended until they are launched, which some cases has taken up to couple of years. The success rate of the project developed until launch and commercialization within the pro- gram is very high and has been on the rise for the last years. In 2003 around 45% of the proj- ects were completed to a result that made it possible for them to be launched. In 2005 already 75% of the designs were commercialized. As the program is 100% funded by the government of Gifu Prefecture, the results carry a great importance in justifying how public money is being spent. 12
  13. 13. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Despite the major work done and success of the Design Centre the future looks uncertain. In March 2008 only weeks before the essay was to finish it was announced that the Oribe Design Centre would be dissolved and integrated into Gifu Economic and Industrial Promotion Center. As a result, the Invited Overseas Designers Program will most likely to be reduced in size and probably conducted in a different way in the future. Oribe design Centre and the Universities The Invited Overseas Designers Program is organized together with collaborating universities. In the past there were altogether three universities participating in the program; Royal College of Art (RCA), University Art and Design Helsinki (TAIK), Domus Academy from Milan and the American institute called the International Design Network Foundation (IDNF)) . But in the last years the collaboration has been carried out mainly with the first two universities, with each university sending one or two students to attend the program. TAIK became involved in 2001 in the program with the partnership organized by Professor Tapio Yli-Viikari. The contact to the local government was established in 1998 when the pro- fessor attended an event organized by the Japan Pottery Association. The following year the governor of the Gifu Prefecture and his delegation came to visit Finland, and the first of the agreements in-between the design centre and the University were made in year 2000. The program has been on hold a couple of times, but due to the interest from the design centre, the university, including the Rector Yrjö Sotamaa and the political instances in Gifu, TAIK has been able to renew their contract year after year. During the years many designers such as Sami Ruotsalainen, Heikki Ruoho, Camilla Groth, Saara Renvall, Katja Sorvali and Zagros Hatami among others have participated in the pro- gram, collaborating mainly in ceramics projects, but also in lighting project as it was the case with Heikki Ruoho and H+ light or Saara Renvalls chair. 13
  14. 14. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Chair as a Process The project has many different stages that are carried out before, during and after the official participation of designer. These stages and the whole structure of the program is laid out and planned prior to the start of the program. The following description in the form of a diary depicts the development of the program that I was involved in. Summer 2006: Recruitment of client companies and designers The whole process was started by Oribe Design Centre recruiting for possible collaboration partners. The staff interviewed a number of local companies that were interested or in need of new products being developed for them. The client companies were chosen on the basis of their willingness to develop new products, a clear image of product to be developed (in other words, they knew what they wanted) and initial willingness to take a risk to invest in the devel- opment and commercialization of the product in development. After the client was chosen, a new contract was made, as it is done each year with the over- seas partner organizations (TAIK & RCA). The negotiations were held and the contracts were updated with changes for example in the duration of the contract period of the program. After the contracts were made, schedules drawn, and the various stakeholders of the project in- formed, the participating universities were asked to market and publicize the project to their students, setting a deadline by which the prospective designer/students needed to apply for the program. The students were asked to submit a portfolio of their work including visualizations, a curricu- lum and an informal application form, a resume letter explaining each designer’s background and interest in participating in the program. Each of the universities agreed to supply a certain number of possible candidates for the program. Out of all of the applicants, approximately 5 were sent to be reviewed by the centre. The participating designers were chosen according to the needs and requirements of the col- laborating companies. The designer was to be either a graduate or a prospective graduate of TAIK, as well as to be capable and available to engage in the design development activities for the Collaboration Partner(s) for four months and including two visits to Gifu. The designers were asked to describe any special skills they might possess, required to develop products 14
  15. 15. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. wanted by the collaboration partners. Designer’s major field of study did not necessarily need to be in the field of products. In 2006 due to the needs of some of the client companies, ad- ditional information and references were asked from the designer applicants, on their skills in cad/cam and rapid prototyping. August 2006: Project Kick-off Once the designer was chosen and his willingness to participate in the program confirmed, the staff at Oribe Design Centre and the collaborative partners developed the theme and concept for the project. The designer was sent a copies of the contracts to be signed during the project, and a detailed schedule of the project together with a brief profile of the Project Manager. The designer was asked to reconfirm that he was willing to participate in the program in the light of the new infor- mation, as the designer would be required to transfer all the rights regarding the design(s) to the collaboration partner for a design fee, possibly lower than prevailing market value. Royal- ties at this point were mentioned not be an option. After reconfirming the willingness to participate in the program, the theme was presented to the designer in the form of a brief. The brief consisted of a short description of the initial concept and the expectations regarding the designer. A more detailed description of the contents of the brief and the contracts is made in the deliver- able section of this thesis. September 2006: Defining the scope The designer was requested to submit a set of design concepts to the design centre, together with a set of supporting mood boards and rough sketches on each of the themes described in the brief, sent to the designer prior to the contract period. The designer submitted four mood boards (Figure 2) with picture collages illustrating each of the four adjectives outlined in the brief, together with some rough sketches of possible product concepts and a visual benchmarking study of European furniture manufacturer’s products. The designer asked the Design Centre and the client to describe which of those would be most at- tractive to the local market and why. The designer resorted to this as he found it challenging to 15
  16. 16. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. design products out of his own area of expertise and to an unknown market. Soon after the Designer Centre gave the designer feedback on the submitted work; the design centre hoped that the designer would concentrate on producing more ideas, wishing to refrain from evaluating any visual material on the bench marked products presented by the designer. To assist the designer, the Design Centre provided him with more detailed information on the specific manufacturing skills of the client company. This accompanied with an indication of the quality of the sketches that they wish the designer to produce and a description three abstract directions e.g. “Sweeping forms with soft impression” from which the designer was asked to produce 10 designs per theme totalling altogether 30 different designs. October 2006: Creating initial concepts The designer sent the design centre and the client 30 new design concepts reflecting on the feedback of the previous presentation. The ideas were presented as 2D visualizations, repre- senting the over all form rather than any explicit design details (Figure 3). All of the designs were drawn from the same perspective and used simple line and colour. The illustrations con- Figure 2. Examples of the Mood boards. 16
  17. 17. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. centrated in the emotional content and the first impression in an attempt to capture the essen- tial idea of the concept. Soon after, the Design Centre gave feedback on the second presentation. The ideas had been presented to the client and they had discussed them together with the Design Centre’s person- nel. Out of the proposed designs, the designs which were not seen to be interesting enough were pointed out, together with the five chosen ones that were seen to have aspects of the attributes outlined in the brief and to be of interest to the client company. The designer was asked to make further development on the chosen designs, before arriving for his first visit to Japan. He was also requested to be prepared to explain the technical details of the concepts: the configuration, structure of each of the proposed parts together with sug- gestions on the materials. At this point the designer was asked to focus on the quality of the ideas and the way they were presented rather than the quantity. Figure 3. Figure Example of the 2D Illustrations. 17
  18. 18. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. October / November 2006: Developing the ideas Upon the arrival to Japan, the designer presented the developed concepts to the design centre staff; the five chosen designs and additional two designs chosen by the designer which had been developed into altogether 18 separate designs (Figure 4). The designs visualized as 3D renders, showed different configuration in structures, materials and finishes of the design con- cepts. The designer was taken around the premises and firstly presented the concepts to the pro- ducer, assistant director and senior coordinator responsible for the Invited Overseas Designers Program. The designs were discussed and feedback was given. The quality of the presentation was seen to be of the required standards. Later on the same day the designer was taken for a visit to a shopping centre to see an ex- ample of an environment in which the designed products would be situated in. On the basis of the given feedback and new information the designer finalized the designs for the following days visit and presentation to be held at the client companies’ premises. Figure 4. Visualizations of the presented concepts. 18
  19. 19. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. The following day the visualized concepts and a brief explanation of the source of the ideas, were presented to the client company. Out of the ideas presented, four were chosen to be fur- ther developed. November 2006: Refining the Ideas The four designs were developed to a level were the actual frame and materials could be dis- cussed in more detail. After being immersed in the local culture it seemed for the designer easier to come up with culturally relevant ideas. The use of colours in objects, the contrast of cultural heritage with modern day consumer culture and other local aspects seemed to be striking and in many ways a very inspiring situation to be in. The surplus of stimulus in the new environment resulted in a situation in which it seemed important for the designer to challenge those somewhat more obvious options that had already been presented. At the now fifth presentation it seemed that the client and the managing counterpart of the design centre had already been accustomed to their role of being surprised and it seemed that this was being almost expected of the designer Figure 5. Visualization of the 5th concept. 19
  20. 20. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. to do so. The designer presented a further fifth concept (Figure 5), something very different from the earlier ideas. The concept was supported with pictures and moving image explaining how the idea had developed. The new concept was seen to have the elements of freshness and nov- elty that the client company had looked for since the beginning. It was decided that the new concept together with one of the refined concepts agreed at the last meeting would be taken into closer detail design. November / December 2006: Deciding on the concept Towards the end of the first visit the it was agreed that the final design concepts (Figure 6) were to be developed into prototypes. At this point it was important to confirm the feasibility of the concept. The designer adapted the design concept to the tested ergonomic dimensions and made some initial technical drawings of the design which were given to the client for them to start working on the frame. December 2006: Making of the Prototypes Figure 6. Development of the Neo-N concept. 20
  21. 21. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. In order to test the ideas and finalize of the details of the chosen designs, it was decided that it is important to make some functional and visual prototypes of the chairs. Due to the tight schedule and budget in which the project was to be completed it was then agreed that the designer would use the facilities available to him at the university to make the seats and the client company would take care of making the frame. The seat of the designed chair, made out of very organic forms allowed only for limited range of techniques to be used in order to produce the seat prototypes. After looking at different pos- sibilities, it was decided that the use of fibre glass on CNC-milled polystyrene mould was the best option (Figure 7). This allowed for the ergonomic aspects of the seat to be tested at an early stage, before using the same mould to make the actual seat. The mould for the seat was made as positive, enabling the seat to be tested. After the necessary verifications were made and it was seen that the measurements were correct, the fibre glass was laid in many layers on top of the mould. The layers were built until the seat had sufficient strength, and further it was removed from the polystyrene mould. The seat was finished by filling the imperfections of the Figure 7. Pictures of the model making. 21
  22. 22. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. seat, painted and later packed for safe transport. January 2007: Modifying for Manufacture Back in Japan, the designer presented the models of the seat to the client company together with the technical drawings and images of the model (Figure 8). While the designer had been working in building the model of the seats the client company had worked on the frame. They had made many variations on treatments and finishes, and planned out how the frame could be manufactured in their system. During this visit the last modifications to the frame were made to adjust it to the shape of the seat and also the colours in which the chair was to be manufactured were decided. February 2007: Development Hand-over Towards the end of the second and last visit, the client and the design centre expressed that they were pleased with the results that had been produced during the course of the project. At this point it became important to finalize the details of the designs to that point that it would be possible for the client company with the help of the design centre to commercialize the de- Figure 8. Test model with the frame and the seat 22
  23. 23. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. signs. At this point the lead role of the development of the chairs was transferred to the client company and the designer and the company held negotiations on the terms that the rights of the designs would be transferred to the client company. Summer to Winter 2007: Production Ramp-up and Preparation for Launch Together with the local suppliers the client company negotiated the most efficient way for the chair to be manufactured. At this stage the importance of the design centre in consulting the technical details and the implementation of the design of the chair was vital. The designer’s role at this point was to be involved only if major changes were to be made to the design. Ex- change of e-mails in-between the designer and the design centre were carried on during this period, but many of the decisions in regards to the details were made in situ with the client and the design centre. Due to technical reasons and limitations of the machinery in use at the client company, some compromises had to be made in the case of the frame. Also the form of the seat was modified to be suitable for a greater number of different versions of the same chair. Much of the marketing material (Figure 9) and the photography (Figure 10&11) were made by Figure 9. Marketing material for Neo by Oribe Design Centre. 23
  24. 24. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Figure 10. Photography of the Neo chair by Oribe Design Centre. 24
  25. 25. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Figure 11. Photography of the Neo chair by Oribe Design Centre. 25
  26. 26. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. the staff at the Oribe Design Centre. The writing and translation of the texts, designing the lay- out and theme for the marketing material, together with the photography was all coordinated by the design centre. Experienced Design Management as Guidance The project was conducted by the Design Management section at the Oribe Design Centre. There were altogether six members in this section; a Section Director, two Assistant Directors, and Senior Coordinators and another staff member that is not directly involved in the . Apart from them there was also the Headmaster of Oribe Institute of Design, acting as the general manager of the program and two Project Producers, who managed and are responsible for the design work produced at and through the design centre. According to their own words the col- laboration partner-company and designer were the main parties of the project, never-the-less the staff at Oribe Design Centre had a vital function as a go-between the client company and the designer and making sure that the project was carried out smoothly. Perhaps this was a sign of modesty on their behalf, as during the course of program their role in steering the proj- ect to an acceptable end was of major importance. The Senior Coordinators role was vital as a communication link to the rest of the organization and the client company. She took care of almost all of the translation from Japanese to English and the other way around of the documents, conversations and presentations produced during the program. She also coordinated the daily activities making it easier for the foreign designers stay in Gifu, explaining the right places to eat, helping in organizing trips and in general serving as an irreplaceable link to the local culture,. Despite of the importance of her role in the entire program coordination, all the decisions related to the project itself were taken for approval to her seniors. The Assistant Director, a prefectural government official, was involved in the project for docu- mentation and to see that the project was taken to a correct end. During this project she was in one of her first projects in her new role and due to this was present at all the meetings held. She actively participated when the discussions were held in Japanese. The Project Manager, with a strong background in design management positions in the car industry, was of high importance in affecting the course of the project. During the design stage 26
  27. 27. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. he evaluated proposals and explained the required quality and quantity of the work to the de- signer. He also attended all the meetings with the client and most of the internal ones with the project group or the Headmaster. After the contract period ended the Project Manager visited the client company giving them advice on the modifications to be made during the technical product development. The Headmaster of the Oribe Design Centre and the General Manager of the program is an accomplished designer that used to run his own design studio in Tokyo. His role in the whole of the program was of crucial significance as he has a lot to say in regards the management of the projects and was also often involved in evaluating the design proposals During the project he had a significant role in particular at the concepts stage when parallel ideas where presented and the direction for the whole project was decided on. The designer met the Headmaster in total three times during the course of the project; in the beginning when the designer had just arrived for first his visit to Japan and presented the preliminary ideas, at the end of that same visit when the direction for the development of two ideas were decided on and a third time during the second visit when the designer presented the prototypes to the staff at Oribe Design Centre. From the client company the President and the Superintendent were actively involved in the project. The President of the company, previously involved in and in charge of designing their new products, without perhaps a formal design background, had a great deal of information about their own local markets. The Superintendent, in charge of the manufacturing side of the company, had a very signifi- cant amount of knowledge about the possibilities within the manufacturing capabilities of their company and their manufacturing collaborators. Both of them took a great deal of time during the course of the visits to explain about their existing products and their factory. They were very active in looking for new solutions, and took all the technical problems given by the designer as challenges to really show what they were able to do. The Many Needs of the Deliverables A project such as the Invited Designers Program produces many different kinds of outputs dur- ing the course of its development. Some of them are made by those taking care of the manage- 27
  28. 28. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. ment of the project, and some by those in the operative roles such as in the designer and the client company. These deliverables varied from briefs or reports from individual meetings as well as to visual presentations and test models. There were a number of legal documents that were made and signed during the course of the project. These included contracts such as the Design Assignment Contract, a Commis- sion Contract and an Agreement for Design Development of New Products. The role of the contracts was crucial in making sure that the design centres operations, the client companies’ investment and the designers work was secured and that everybody knew their rights and re- sponsibilities right from the beginning. The Brief as a Starting Point One of the most important documents from the point of view of the designer was the brief. It had an important role in determining the scope and direction of the project. As a document, it tied in the clients and the design centres view on what the to-be-developed products should be like and how they would be evaluated. The brief gave a short description under the titles of design concept, target end-user, key words to be used, an approximate retail price, and depiction of the design and technical consider- ations, making it a solid starting point for the designer. Through a short description of the products and the context in which they were to be used and an explanation of the end-user, including the type of family unit, their income level and type of housing, the brief gave the designer the possibility to start envisioning the way the products in development would be used and what would be required of them. The direction for the seman- tic values for the chair was given through the use of some general and abstract words describ- ing the emotions that the products should convey and support. The brief also defined through an approximate retail price, the relation to other products in the same category. This gave the designer a point of reference when considering the extent of the possible options in the use of materials, manufacturing techniques, components, and mechanisms, highlighting those in particular which could not be used. It also accentuated the important considerations to do with safety and structural strength of the products at hand. Together with the product and user related issues, the brief also explained how design and 28
  29. 29. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. product development had previously been carried out in the client company, their core compe- tence and skills and a description on their hopes on the results of the project. Careful Documentation for Future Projects Together with the brief, a detailed schedule was sent to the designer. In this document there was the day based progression describing the activities taking place before, during and after the official participation of the designer. The schedule also described the dates on which the each of the presentations were to be handed in, when the different contract became effective and when they expired, the deliverables of the presentations, the dates when the designer could expect to receive some feedback and initial dates for the overseas visit of the designer. The development of the project was recorded by the Oribe Design Centre staff in the form of re- ports. These included memos which were made after a meeting was held with the collaboration partner, stating what was discussed and agreed, as well as a more extensive report compiled after each time the designer’s stayed in Gifu. These reports were not public in the sense that they would have been translated and sent to the designer, but were filed to be used as a record on future projects and to evaluate the Invited Overseas Designs programs performance. Written Communication Prevents Misunderstanding Communication played an important role in determining the direction of the project. Most of the daily communication was carried through the internet, resulting in a large number of e-mails. This could be seen as something quite natural, as the distances in-between the different par- ties were long and in top of that there were the standard challenges often seen in cross-cultural projects, such as language and cultural barriers which increase the possibility of misunder- standing. Perhaps seeing the project from this point of view, it could be said that one of the strengths of such project is that almost all of the communications was carried out in the form of emails, giving the counterparts a chance to go through the statements and refer back to them. The emails as such operated as a log of the decisions made during the course of the project. Visual Material to Illustrate the Development of the Idea The designer produced during the course of the project a large number of presentation mate- rial. Examples of this material can be seen in the chapter describing the stages of the project. 29
  30. 30. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. A major part of the work was in the form of visual presentations from free sketches to 3d dimen- sional renderings as well as 3D geometry which was used in making the technical drawings and prototypes. During the course of the project also a number of photographs and moving im- ages such as video recording and downloaded advertisements were used to explain the ideas that the designer was working on. These types of deliverables, typical to the work of a designer, proved that visual media is the most efficient way of communicating ideas. This was of particular importance as the project team faced the challenge of afore mentioned cultural and language barriers. The ideas were presented as desirable images and often the changes to the designs were explained through the use of free sketching as a tool of communication and agreement on the next steps to be taken in the development of the designs. Learning-by-Seeing The client company on the other hand, responded to the designs by making a large number of test models and attempts on new finishes proposed by the designer. During the course of the project they produced hundreds of different options of how the frame could bend using their manufacturing techniques. In many occasions the designer was also taken in person to see the production facilities and the process of making the frame, illustrating to the designer the chal- lenges proposed by designs presented to the client company. During the course of the project this hands on method proved essential in testing the extents to which the proposed ideas were feasible and for the designer to be able to modify the designs into manufacturing and finally to a commercially viable product. 30
  31. 31. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. 3. Theory: New Product Development process The following chapter discusses the main ideas behind the new product development process. By the end you will have gained an understanding behind the definitions, main advantages and the elements out of which a new product development process is made out of. These ideas are further illustrated by couple of the main literature examples and comparison on how they differ from each other. All of this is done in order to get to the root of what constitutes a successful new product development process. Definition of New Product Development Process Process as a concept has many different meanings and ways of being explained. Encyclopae- dia defines process as “a naturally occurring or designed sequence of changes of properties or attributes of an object or system…” or alternatively “a sys- “A Process is a se- tematic series of actions directed to some end.” What ever quence of steps that one chooses, both of the definitions have in common that transforms a set of they have a starting state, which is transformed into some- inputs into a set of thing else through a series of actions. outputs.” Eppingers (2003 / p.12)definition simplifies the meaning of process into three different simple entities: inputs that are transformed into outputs through a series of steps. Another way of seeing it can be as an organized way of transformation. In prac- tice companies employ processes and in particular New product Development processes to “conceive, design and commercialize a product” (Ulrich & Eppinger / 2003 / p.12) “New product devel- opment processes Reinertsen uses in Managing a Design Factory (1997 / p.119) are used to conceive, the analogy of languages to describe the nature of a New design and commer- Product Development. He presents a comparison to pro- cialize a product” cesses by describing the function of words being the build- ing blocks from which according to agreed rules of order, Ulrich & Eppinger words are combined to form sentences. As with languages he describes the importance of creating common rules without killing the flexibility to create something truly original. He argues that flexibility is a key issue when designing New Product 31
  32. 32. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Development processes, in particular in the design intensive industry where rarely one project is similar to another one. Ulrich & Eppinger argue (2003 / p.12-13) that a well defined New Product Development pro- cess helps to assure quality by specifying the phases and checkpoints allowing us to confirm that everything is in line with general level agreed in the company. “A process is a methodology that is developed to replace the old ways and to guide corporate activity year after year. It is not a special guest. It is not temporary. It is not to be tolerated for a while and then aban- doned” Cooper on Thomas H. Berry, Managing the Total Quality Transformation( 2001 / p11) This comment underlines the nature of the process in relation to time. It is something that is developed overtime, something that is learned and must be nurtured for it to increase its value and benefits it can yield. The Main Advantages of a Well-defined Process The following chapter describes the many advantages that a well-defined New Product Devel- opment Process can be seen to have. Eppinger (2003 / p.13) argues that new product development processes can be seen to have three main uses. He argues that it can be seen as an agreed order or procedures which serve to narrow down the available product concepts and by this increase the amount of specifica- tions until an organization can safely confirm that the product concept can be produced without the danger of failing. This means that an efficient process helps a company make the right decisions, by giving the right reasons to qualify and disqualify options. According to Ulrich & Eppinger the can also be seen to operate as an information produc- tion system, by which strategic objectives, market needs and capabilities are transformed into product concepts, marketing plans, sales pitches. These are deliverables that help us to go through the necessary steps so that we are able to satisfy the needs of an organization before it faces the risks involved in launching a new product. 32
  33. 33. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. As such it can be also seen as a risk management system through which uncertainties related to new ideas are reduced, securing safer investments and better market approval. The im- portance for a careful planning is reinforced by the claim that according to estimates (Jones / 1997 / p.82 on a study carried out by Berliner & Brimson / 1988) up to 70 to 90 percent of the decisions regarding the costs created in commercializing a new product are made during the pre-development stages of the project Cooper describes the notion of a process as a road map (2001 / p.13), a description of the path to take into account in order to efficiently take an idea to the market, ensuring that the pauses are taken in the right places as well as for the right reasons. It is also useful to create coordination among team members or organization as it describes to everybody at which moment in time their is contribution required. For the management this is vital in order for them to be able to delegate the right areas of responsibility and tasks among the team. For the operative team member it is on the other hand vital to understand the impor- tance and relevance of their own tasks. A systematic process also helps to plan the milestones and phases according to the general schedule of the project. This makes it easier to keep track of possible delays and problems during the development and respond to them in the appropriate manner, ensuring the delivery of the project at the right time. Overtime a well documented development process helps the management to evaluate projects in relation to each other, to foresee possible problem areas up front and to make the necessary actions and adjustments to organize the appropriate resources to resolve the problems. It also helps the product development organization to learn from previous mistakes and improve in order to not to repeat the same mistakes in future projects. Jones (1997/ p.81) ties these ideas together by saying; ”Projects have to be well planned, managed, and controlled. Only by carefully setting achievable targets and realistic objectives and scheduling a development program according to its specific needs can the necessary budgets be defined and resource requirements identified and made available at the appropriate time. “ 33
  34. 34. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Additionally Cooper argues that Stage-Gate process (A New Product Development process that he has named to take possession of the methodology that he has created) is designed to speed the process of product to market (2001 / p.142). He claims that through the use of his method, companies can shorten the time-to-market of a new product. This can be seen as pure sales pitch made to sell more books, but it also reinforces that the value of New Product De- velopment process is in making companies more efficient in commercializing new ideas. This is perhaps one of the strongest arguments speaking in favour of the use of an established and studied process, as increasingly time equals money, separating those companies that survive from those that don’t. Breaking Down the Process Despite the fact that there are many versions of the New Product Development process, all of them share the objectives are related to the commercialization of new and profitable Ideas. The following chapter describes building blocks out of which the processes are constructed of. For the purpose of this study I have chosen three different approaches to New Product Devel- opment. Ulrich & Eppinger, Jones and Cooper all present their views of what is an efficient con- struction of a process to develop new products. Their arguments share some similarities but also have some fundamental differences in the way ideas their ideas are presented, depending on the emphasis that the authors have chosen to give. All of the models presented here are made out of stages or phases depending on the terminol- ogy that is chosen. Stages are those steps that were described earlier; and they are made of sets of parallel or sequential activities that share a common theme, an objective. Depending on the author the number of these stages varies. Ulrich & Eppingers Model is made out five phases with an additional sixth phase, which is called the zero phase which is dedi- cated to the planning of the project. This model is often seen in many different publications and could be considered a generic process within the product development literature. Cooper describes a process that has five stages and an additional pre-process Idea Discovery Stage and Post-launch Review that as such are not recognized permanent part of the process. On top of that he also describes a further stage called the Strategy Formulation Stage, which is not generally involved in the in the generic Stage-Gate model, but is seen to be highly impor- 34
  35. 35. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. tant in enabling an effective product development. The model presented by Jones is perhaps the most different out of the models presented here. He has divided the process into three phases and subsequently into component stages that have their distinctive outcomes. By simplifying the process into three phases he makes it pos- sible for his model to be adjusted to many different kinds’ product development projects. The Generic Product Development Process by Ulrich & Eppinger As mentioned earlier the model presented by Ulrich and Eppinger has five main phases and a zero phase which precedes the actual product development process (Figure 12). The Zero/Planning phase precedes the actual project approval and launch. At this stage the suitability of possible projects are evaluated against Corporate Strategy and market objectives and it is also when the assessment of technology developments is made. The requirements for this phase is to create a description of the company’s attitude in relation to the new project, in other words to create a mission statement. After the direction is chosen and the project is launched, follows the first actual phase of product development. This stage is called the Concept Development Stage or in other words the Front-End (Ulrich & Eppinger / 2003 / p.16), and sometimes also called the Fuzzy Front End (Cagan&Vogel / 2002 / p.107) of the process. This stage is defined by its nature in having many interrelated activities which determine the direction which the particular project is going Ulrich & Eppinger Stages Gates 0. Planning. Mission Approval 1. Concept Development. Concept Review 2. System-Level Design. System Spec Review 3. Detail Design Critical Design Review 4. Testing and Refinement. Production Approval 5. Production Ram-up. Figure 12. The Generic Product Development Process (Ulrich & Eppinger) 35
  36. 36. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. to take. This stage includes studies such as customer need identification, benchmarking stud- ies on competitive products, and must include economic analysis on the viability of the project. This is also the stage at which concept generation and identification is carried out. After this stage, the project is planned out and sufficient resources must be allocated to the project, in order for it to carry on. Ulrich & Eppinger also argue that this stage benefits from early prototyp- ing, sort of proof-of-concept prototypes. The second Stage, the System-level Design Stage looks at the product architecture, i.e. func- tional and physical elements of a product and further dividing the product into smaller sub- systems, planning out how the product would be taken into the manufacturing and assembly process (Ulrich & Eppinger / 2003 / p.165). In the third, Detail design stage, the product is developed to a stage at which the design can be frozen which means that the different part geometry, materials and tolerances in production are decided on. At this stage it also possible to start with the tooling design and acquisition of the correct equipment to begin later with the production. In the fourth Stage of this model the developed product is further taken into testing and re- finement. This stage often produces a large number of test versions which are evaluated and enhanced to meet the required standard. The suppliers are facilitated with information about the new product, enabling their ramp-up. Some changes in the design are still possible at this stage but decreasing in number as the time goes by. At this stage also the sales plans are drawn and the promotion and launch materials are developed and the workforce is trained to receive the new product. The importance of this stage is to ensure through the implementa- tion of Beta-prototypes, i.e. preproduction prototypes the reliability and performance of the new product. The fifth and final stage is the production Ramp-up Stage, where the developed product is taken into production first in smaller amounts and tested with the key customers. At this point the remaining flaws are evaluated and further corrected before the upcoming launch. The New Product Development Process by Jones. The model proposed by Tim Jones constitutes out of three phases: Inception, the Pre Devel- 36
  37. 37. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. opment phase before any attempts to visualize the concepts is made, the Creation Phase at which the concepts are created and developed into visual and functional prototypes and the final Realization phase at which the finalized design is taken into production and launched to the market (Figure 13). In the Inception or Pre-Development Phase, market research and R&D take an important role Tim Jones Phases Stages Gates Inception-Pre-Development New product opportunity Project Field Need Identification Project Brief Idea Generation Screened Ideas Feasibility assessment Project Definition Project planning Specification and schedule Creation-Development Concept Concept Definition Design Detailed Design Development Design Definition Modeling Prototype Testing Design verification Realization- Post-development Production preparation Pilot build Product introduction Manufacture Distribution Product launch Operation Product feedback Evaluation Figure 13. The New Product development process (Jones / 1997 / p.xii) 37
  38. 38. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. in carrying out the major tasks. Design and senior management together with marketing exam- ine the product opportunity against appropriateness to organization, technological capabilities and market, resulting in a description of the extends of the opportunity for the new product. After this the initial brief is created defining the key problems, product opportunities, potential market and users. Idea generation is started, an activity lead by R&D together with Marketing, Design and other New Product Development functions. The Ideas are generated and screened assessing them against market, technological feasibility by parameters agreed by the majority of the functions. After this the most promising ideas are selected using an agreed product cri- teria. Towards the end of this phase the development of the product is planned and a product specification is compiled. The second phase, the Creation Phase Jones’s model , is the time when the product is devel- oped to what it is to become. This phase is mainly lead by design to produce a range of prod- uct concepts. Out of these concepts the most appropriate are selected and further developed into preliminary prototypes. Only the product concepts that answer the identified specifications are developed. The product detail is designed and assessed against feasibility and Customer reactions. At this point often user clinics are formed at which the key product attributes are investigated through tests and market analysis tools, thus resulting in the production potential to be determined. When the necessary information requirements are fulfilled the products are allowed to go into production During Realization, the post development phase which is the third and final phase of Jones model, the product is introduced to manufacturing. A pilot product is built, manufacturing, dis- tribution and promotion is planned and the plans are assessed. At this point also an economi- cal and reliable production is established and product support is activated for launch. At the moment at which the product is launched, market research is activated and the product per- formance is measured, and possible problems areas are determined and recorded for future development. The Stage-Gate model by Cooper Coopers model is made out of five to eight stages, the latter number if the Idea Discovery, Post Launch Review and Strategy Formulation Stages are considered to be parts of the process. 38
  39. 39. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Never-the-less the author claims that “Each stage is designed to gather information needed to progress the project to the next gate or decision point.” The key stages within the process are defined as the pre-stage of Discovery, Scoping, Building the Business Case, Development, Testing and Validation and finally the actual Product Launch (Figure 14). (Cooper / 2001 / p.133-141) Another major difference in-between these three models is “Each stage is de- the emphasis that is given to the steps in-between the stag- signed to gather in- es and phases. Cooper stresses the significance of these formation needed to steps what he calls gates (2001 / p.131-132). These in-be- progress the project tween stages are moments of evaluation when it is judged to the next gate or whether each stage and their relevant activities have pro- decision point.” duced the correct outcome enabling the project to proceed Cooper to the next stage. Cooper defines these check points as Go or Kill points; quality control checkpoints at which all the information is brought together and the next steps are decided on. These gates’ role in prioritizing the information and helping to make the correct decisions is significant. They are moments of evaluating the deliverables against a standard menu of criteria that is agreed at the beginning of the project or at the previous gate. This criterion, a set of “Must meet or knock-out questions” are there to get rid of any unfeasible ideas and outputs, at the same time forcing the project team to create an action plan, a list Cooper Stages Gates Pre-Stage: DISCOVERY Gate 1: IDEA SCREENING Stage 1: SCOPING Gate 2: SECOND SCREENING Stage 2: BUILDING THE BUSINESS CASE Gate 3: GO TO DEVELOPMENT Stage 3: DEVELOPMENT Gate 4: GO TO TESTING Stage 4: TESTING AND VALIDATION Gate 5: GO TO LAUNCH Stage 5: LAUNCH Figure 14. Stage-Gate Process by Cooper 39
  40. 40. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. of the deliverables to be produced and to set a deadline for the next stage. The management of these Gates he attributes to senior management. The other two models have included the evaluation as generic part of the stages, in which the viability of the project is evaluated at the point at which the each deliverable is produced. At the discovery stage the fundamental technical research is carried out seeking new techno- logical possibilities, and by working with users to discover unarticulated needs. At the same time strategic planning exercises are performed to uncover disruptions in the marketplace identifying market gaps and possible significant opportunities. At the first gate ideas are screened, subjecting the idea to a set of “must-meet” and “should- meet” criteria. This is done to test the strategic alignment and feasibility of the project, to un- derstand the magnitude of the opportunity and possible market attractiveness against product advantage and fit with company policies. If the developed product manages to pass this criteria and is found worthy of the chase, it is allowed the go ahead. The first actual product development stage in Cooper’s model scopes the project defining the extents of the development tasks ahead. At this stage both market and technical information is gathered. Through carrying out preliminary market, technical, business and financial assess- ments recommendations are drawn for the next steps. At the second gate a further screening is carried out evaluating the project in the light of the new information. Again the product concept is assessed against a “must-meet” and “should- meet” criteria. In addition to these also sales forces, customer reaction and other technical, legal and regulatory “Killer variables” which might affect the viability of a successful product launch are assessed. The second, Business Case Stage is the stage which opens the door to product development. This stage involves a detailed investigation of what defines the product, verifying the attractive- ness of the product concept. Cooper defines this as the “Critical homework stage” at which the intended target market, the description of the product concept and the specification of a product positioning strategy are decided on, together with the product benefits to be delivered. This is the stage where the value proposition is formulated, spelling out of the essential and desired product features, attributes, requirements and specifications. A competitive analysis is 40
  41. 41. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. carried out together with a concept testing and technical appraisal confirming the “do-ability” of the product concept. The third, Go to Development gate determines whether the project goes to actual develop- ment. This generally means that the project goes into heavy spending. At this point it is vital to review the activities carried out in stage 2, checking the quality of the execution and results, the development, preliminary operations and marketing plans. If the project passes the review a project team is designated. At the third, Development Stage the emphasis is on technical work but also on carrying out par- allel marketing activities such as market research and customer feedback surveys. Prototypes and working models should be used to ask the users to get more reliable information about their views of the product in development. After the necessary information has been gathered, including all the tests results, market launch, production and operation plans, a description of the production facilities requirements, updated financial reviews and legal regulatory, legal and patent documents, the project is allowed to into the next evaluation. The fourth gate prepares the project to go into more of a thorough testing. At this point the development and continued attractiveness of the product is checked together with the consis- tency of the product features with what was established at the gate three. From the collected and revised financial analysis based on more detailed data, a decision is made to approve for the project to the next stage. Stage four checks on the entire viability of the product. It looks at the planned production pro- cess, possible customer acceptance and the economics of the whole project. These results are produced through for example in-house product tests or other user or field trials. The trials are performed through limited production or pilot production, allowing also pre-test marketing, test market or trial sell to see the customer reactions. On the basis of the information gathered a revised business and financial analysis are made. The fifth gate is the last gate before launch and hence the last point in which the project can still be terminated. After this, Cooper explains, it is very hard to turn back. This gate checks on the results of the previous stages and makes sure that everything is correct. Stage five is all go, at this point it is just the case of a skillful implementation of the previously 41
  42. 42. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. made and agreed plans. After the project is launched and the product performance reviewed, a critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the whole project and the end results is carried out. Roles in the Process All of the authors agreed that multi- and cross-functional teams are most beneficial for new product development process. The main functions were seen to be marketing, design, manu- facturing due to their continuous involvement in the process, but it was also seen that other functions such finance, sales, services and research and development played key roles in the new product development (Ulrich & Eppinger / 2003 / p.13). Figure 14 is a description of the activities carried on in Ulrich and Eppinger Generic New Product Development Process during the different stages in reference to the functions within a company. The multifunctional approach to new product development was seen as a strength, as by eliminating iterations and by making the different functions work on the same project from the beginning, project development times could be shortened and the process made more efficient. The authors argued that an efficient process involved a range of concurrent activi- ties that must be performed simultaneously. Nevertheless it was seen that during the different stages, different departments must take a leading role in pursuing the new product develop- ment (Jones / 1997 / p.xiii). Figure 15 shows the different functions lead roles in regards to the phases and stages of the process described by Jones. Jones model made of the three Phases described in the previous chapter, argued that in the first, Inception Phase, is when the R&D and market research departments should be in charge (Jones / 1997 / p.xiii). These functions, together with marketing, design and top management should take care of the early stage new product opportunity identification and other tasks de- scribed in the earlier chapter (Figure 16, p.46). Jones further suggests that in the second, the creation phase should largely be lead by the Design department of the company. At this phase the design department, consulting with the other functions conceives the new product concepts and develops them through to the proto- type stage. The third and final, Realization Phase attributes the leading role to production engineering, 42
  43. 43. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. sales and marketing, whilst decreasing the design functions involved to that of a consultative role. This order of functions during the process was seen to be somewhat agreed by all the authors. They also agreed that it was important, that all of the functions were involved throughout the process despite that the lead role was changed during the stages. (Jones 1997 p.xiii-xv) Another important role identified by the authors was the role of the management. Cooper referred to a study (carried out by Song, Montoya and Schmidt Cooper/p.57) in which 300 of the top companies where interviewed about organizational issues in regards to new product development process. Through the results of this study it was seen that the management played an important role in the new product development process. The top managements’ role in “championing” the project and to provide strategic direction, as well as creating policies and procedures to enable an internal culture of cross-functional cooperation was seen of crucial significance. All of the authors brought out the importance of a clear organizational structure in developing the projects. Ulrich and Eppinger described two different organizations; a functional organiza- tion and a project organization (2003, p.25). In the first organization model, the departments would be made out of professionals with similar training and experience. A project organization in which teams, composed of different disciplines, focused in the development of a specific product or product line. The authors went to further describe other types of organizations, such as project and balanced matrix organizations which were made out of different combinations of these two extremes. It seemed like a consensus that the successfulness of the type of an organizational structure depended strongly on the case, but the organizations that combined strong management culture and multifunctional project teams were seen to be most efficient ones (Cooper/ 2003/ p.58). Deliverables Produced During a Process. This chapter looks at the different kinds of deliverables produced during the New Product De- velopment process. They often are many numbers and for that reason it is crucial for us to see their uses and the function in taking the project further by recording, assessing, communicating the process and the item developed. 43
  44. 44. Critical Success Factors in a Furniture Development Process- Furniture design process review through a Finnish-Japanese design project. Screening the possibilities In early stages of the development process, that is to say the Fuzzy Front end of the process, the stages from discovery to development where there is emphasis on project planning and opportunity identification, the deliverables are geared towards explaining the results of the different analysis and the identification of the possible opportunities. The authors agreed that different kinds of market research or voice of customer research as defined by Cooper and benchmarking studies should be carried and documented. (Cooper / 2001/ p.179) The documents establishing the opportunity of the new project were defined with different names by the authors. Ulrich and Eppinger named this as the Project Mission Statement, which includes a description of the target market, business goals, key assumptions and con- straints ((Ulrich & Eppinger / 2003 / p.13). This document is also called at times the Business Case or New product Investment Applications as named by Jones (Jones / 1997 / p.83), a name representative of the nature of the document in describing the right to exist . This type of documents are generally started at the beginning of the project and specified as the project progresses and more information is gathered. Other examples of such continuously developed documents are the different kinds of risks analysis and plans used often in projects which are large, complex and carry a high risk factor. Brief as a Tool for the Designer Another result of the early stages is a brief, one of the major documents to be delivered to en- able a successful product development. Briefs are given many names in different contexts such as job ticket or design and creative briefs. A brief generally includes the following subheadings; project overview and background, and category review, company portfolio, business objectives and design strategy, project scope, time line, and budget, and at times also other more detailed research data which is included in the appendix (Phillips, 2004 p29). At times also another, separate and more detailed project schedule is drawn, describing all the important events tak- ing place during the stages of the project, the deliverables to be handed in and so forth. Reports and Assessments to Serve the Different Stakeholders Towards the end of the front end stages of the process, when the concept is starting to be defined to a point that it can be shown and explained, the authors suggest that different kinds 44

×