The product development process

The PD Process coordinates the specific research activities such as product design, process development, engineering plant design, marketing strategy and design with the aim of producing an integrated approach to the development of new products. The overall aim is to create a product that an individual consumer or a food manufacturing company or a food service organisation will buy. The two parts of product development - the knowledge of the consumer's needs/wants and the knowledge of modern scientific discoveries and technological developments -are both equally important. The PD Process combines and applies the natural sciences with the social sciences to systematically produce innovation in industry.

The PD Process is a system of research for the individual product development project and the product development programme. It varies in detail from project to project but overall retains the same structure of four main stages, subdivided further into 7-9 stages in some product development models (Cooper, 1996; Earle, 1997). The four stages are product strategy, product design and process development, product commercialisation, product launch and evaluation. Between the four stages, there are critical evaluations and top management decisions on the project and the products, called stage gates (Cooper, 1990) or critical points (Earle, 1971). Critical points are an essential part of the PD Process. For the critical decisions to be made, certain knowledge has to be generated in the research - the outcomes from the various stages. To build this knowledge, specific research is needed - the activities of the various stages. The project teams choose different procedures for these activities - the techniques used in the activities. There are important interrelationships in the four main stages between:

Critical decisions ^ Outcomes ^ Activities ^ Techniques

This PD Process can be called the Critical PD Process because it is based around critical decisions, and because there is critical analysis of the activities/ techniques and the outcomes throughout the project.

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