Effectively Using Systems Thinking in New Product Development (NPD)

Effectively Using Systems Thinking in New Product Development (NPD)

Brian J. Galli (Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director, Master of Science in Engineering Management Industrial Engineering, Hofstra University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJAL.2018070104
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This is a case study concerning technology start-up companies involved in systems thinking during new product development. It is found that systems thinking is pivotal to assisting project managers in moving a project from start to successful completion. The essence of systems thinking is getting all teams in a company to work together as one, to push forward new product development. The study reveals some of the challenges associated with implementing the systems theory in new product development for these companies. This area of study holds promise for continued future research. However, there are still some implementation issues in the real world that have been identified and perhaps are in need of further exploration.
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It is well known that products and services have a life cycle. As the market develops over time, products and services can weaken or become obsolete. Some products and/or services cannot adapt to such a constantly advancing market (Caldwell, 2012). However, the inability to adapt allows companies and industries around the world to have new opportunities to redesign existing offerings and to create brand new offerings to stay competitive in the marketplace. Product development teams are aware that new and innovative ideas are essential to staying relevant within the marketplace. Product development, which is known as “new product development (NPD)” to entrepreneurs, relies on processes that design, create, and support a product throughout its lifecycle.

Today, New Product Development (NPD) is fundamental not only for a company's survival, but also for its ability to gain a competitive advantage. The process benefits many aspects of an organization, such as its cultural environment. Furthermore, New Product Development projects can benefit a company and its customers from raw materials to final distribution, as well as all areas of a supply chain and logistics. Therefore, new product development needs to be discussed from a systems perspective in terms of logistics and supply chain.

Logistics is defined as the itemized association and implementation of a multifaceted operation, but in general marketing, it is the management of what is between the origin point and the utilization purpose whilst aiming to meet prerequisites by pursuing the goal (Galli, 2017a). Physical things can be applied to the assets that are supervised in logistics. For example, food, drinks, materials, time, creatures, and data are all physical things. These also include resolving the data stream, which features security, looking after content, bundling, generation, warehousing, and transportation.

Systems thinking addresses how various roles, disciplines, and systems are interconnected, as this system is based on how parts work collectively. Thus, systems thinking focuses on the integrated whole, so it easily fits into new product development because a project manager can more easily see the process of product development from a systems perspective. In other words, the product development would be viewed as multiple parts merging to create innovation and expansion. A project manager must work with different teams to lead a product through the different phases of concept, market, and operations. So, a project manager should be able to see every aspect from a systems thinking perspective, as it seems natural for this role to entail systems thinking.

Not much literature is available on how systems thinking and new product development relate, but both subjects have their own significant amount of literature. It is detrimental to businesses that the connection between systems thinking and new product development has not yet been explored. New product development is necessary for most companies to exploit market opportunities, to drive growth, and to drive profitability. One cannot only study new product development in reference to project management or innovation studies, as systems thinking is capable of being utilized to a larger extent than it has been (Galli, 2017a).

The focus of this research will be how systems thinking works within new product development. However, this study will also discover ways of applying systems thinking to new product development in the future. Primarily, there will be a focus on a case study, which features a software company that is developing a new product. Due to confidentiality reasons, we cannot divulge the name of the company or product, but it can be said that this is only the company's second product. Though the company's first product was extremely successful, it did not have a process, but this second product has the company considering a process. As a result, this has the potential to be a good case study about how companies approach systems thinking today. Most importantly, we can find if systems thinking will be more frequently applied in the future development of this product and the process behind it (Galli & Kaviani, 2017a).

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