Analysing product development best practices and improvement of associated activities with an application to a South African company
Thesis (MScEng)--University of Stellenbosch
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The dynamic and highly competitive environment that most product development organisations find themselves in demands a method to constantly assess the maturity of the organisations' product development processes and systems. Many of these organisations are in the product development business and for this reason a need was identified for a method that can be used by managers to identify areas in need of improvement on a continual basis. . This thesis included a literature study of product development best practices and organisational measurement techniques, as well as the application and evaluation of a tool that enables the business managers to assess the state of these product development activities against the benchmark of these said best practices. The theoretical approach taken in this thesis, was to define the scope of the organisations and products to be included in the thesis, to investigate the current best practices within both the academic and industry arenas and identify the needs of product development organisations in terms of measuring their product development process maturity and then an evaluation of the tool that enables the identification of shortcomings in the organisations' development systems. Included in the literature study were a variety of Business and Quality Philosophies, existing standards and measurement tools, as well as a brief look at Organisational culture and how it affects Product Development Activities. The results of this literature were then used to substantiate the tool that was used for the actual evaluation and case study. The literature provided a good basis of evaluation, particularly in the way that the tool employs measurements and scoring techniques to assess an organisation's position in terms of product development best practices. The case study then took an existing tool that is currently used by DRM Associates (USA) in assessing the state of an organisation's Product Development Best Practices and used it to assess a Business Unit within a South African company. The results were analysed and the tool thus evaluated in terms of accuracy, user-friendliness and value for the South African market. It was found that the tool is very accurate in terms of identifying areas of weakness both with respect to the strategic performance of the organisation as well as the individual best practices. It is easy to understand, but the scoring system utilised is not that easily employed. It was felt that the scoring systems needed to be more generic as those of ISO 9004 and the South African Excellence Model The idea is that managers do the assessment once in conjunction with a group of consultants and then again as part of a continuous improvement drive, on their own. Managers with limited knowledge of product development best practices and philosophies would find the assessment difficult to do on their own due to the ambiguous scoring criteria. It was felt that a generic system would be easier to use by non-technical people. Once the assessment had been completed and the tool itself evaluated, the value of such a tool for South African product development organisations was also evaluated. In this evaluation it was found that the tool could be more valuable as a guide for future education (an educational roadmap) than as a benchmarking and assessment tool.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ... punte toekenning sisteem meer generies moes wees, soortgelyk aan die van ISO 9004 en die 'South African Excellence Model'. Die idee is dat bestuurders die evaluering een keer saam. met 'n groep konsultante moet doen en dan weer op hulle eie as deel van 'n deurlopende verbeterings-program. Bestuurders met 'n beperke kennis in beste praktyke en filoso:fië van produk ontwikkeling sou die evaluering moeilik gevind het as hulle dit op hulle eie gedoen het weens die dubbelsinnige punte toekenningskriteria. 'n Meer generiese sisteem sal makliker wees vir mense wat nie tegnies aangelê is nie. Toe die gevallestudie voltooi was en die model self evalueer was, was die waarde van so 'n model vir Suid Afrikaanse produkontwikkelings-ondememings terselfdetyd evalueer. Dit was gevind dat die model meer waardevol kon wees as 'n opleidingshulpmiddel vir ondernemings, in plaas van 'n evalueringsinstrument teenoor opgestelde grondslae.