Organizing the New Products Creation Process

When consistent application of the process control philosophy even in the serial and Rx Production had not always been evident, it became a real challenge to use it for the Marketing and R&D working processes to create new products. Creative people do not like documents, which seem to dictate them how to organize their work, because they are afraid that their creativity will be restricted and consequently the number of documents describing the way how to define and develop new products are rather limited in Marketing and R&D departments.

In R&D the Director for New Product Projects together with the head of R&D Quality had already started to prepare a guide book for project managers. But this was only an internal R&D document, the product creation process however is a so called transverse process where different disciplines as Marketing, R&D, Engineering and Production share responsibility. Marketing proposes a product plan and delivers functional specifications. R&D conduct the feasibility study and develop the product. Engineering prepares the industrial production. Thus it was necessary to write a procedure document organizing these activities in its different successive stages as R&D program, Pre-Project, Active Project and defining conditions to open and to close these phases. These conditions are on one hand the decision making organizations and on the other hand the documents (functional and technical specifications, letter of intent …..) to start a project phase or to validate the successful end of a project phase. This procedure was edited by a multidisciplinary working group and finally approved by the Directors of Marketing, R&D and Operations. Essilor’s project organization was extremely professional and was able to manage 20 to 30 new product development projects parallel and to deliver in time. The signed procedure document was the official commitment of the big upstream departments to respect  organizations and rules fixed in these papers.

Having gathered much experience in this field, it is hard to observe and understand the mismanagement of  Germany’s  Mega Projects as the new airport in Berlin, the underground railway station in Stuttgart, the amusement park project ”Nürburgring” and others. Final costs, which are double or triple of the initial budget, permanent postponements of project completion and delays counting in years. Even taking into account, that the political context is complicated, lack of professionalism in the management of public projects, is frightening.