Decision Making and Decision Support Within New Product Development

Decision Making and Decision Support Within New Product Development

Bart MacCarthy (University of Nottingham, UK) and Robert Pasley (University of Nottingham, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4478-6.ch014
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There is an extensive literature on new product and process development (NPD). However, the analysis of decision making and decision support requirements in this area is less well researched. Here we discuss decision making in the context of NPD and identify decision types and decision attributes relevant to the NPD context. They illustrate the approach by analyzing NPD decisions in three industrial cases with a focus on early stage NPD decisions. They create a set of attributes with reference to the decision making literature. They find these attributes can be used to codify decisions in order to characterize them. They find the design decisions in these case studies to be creative and brainstorming-led with a low level of structure. The results provide insights both on decision making in NPD in practice and on the requirements for group decision support systems (GDSS) in this area. The authors suggest that an argumentation-based GDSS that allows structure to be developed may be suitable for these decisions. The cases are used to illustrate the application of the approach and show an interesting set of example decision types, but do not cover the range of NPD decisions that may be evident in a larger set of companies.
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A new product development (NPD) process requires decisions to be made about many aspects of the product and related production processes. Decisions are also necessary about the product development project itself, e.g. deciding whether or not the development project should continue. These decisions are often made by groups that may be co-located in time and space, or not co-located in either dimension. Decisions can be strategic, tactical or operational. Some decisions may be urgent, risky or, both. Decisions can, and frequently do, involve group members in partner organizations. An organization also has to make decisions about the portfolio of NPD projects it manages. In order to facilitate these decisions a Group Decision Support System (GDSS) may be helpful.

Here we consider the types of decisions that may arise in NPD. We present a set of decision attributes that are relevant in this context. Decisions can be characterized using this set of attributes. We illustrate the approach by analyzing early stage NPD decisions in three industrial case studies in which we find that the attributes identified are suitable for research into the process and content of NPD decision-making. The approach provides insights into the nature of NPD decision-making and uncovers aspects of decisions that are relevant to identifying the requirements for, and the design of, GDSS for NPD.

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