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A model of product development performance

Duffy, Alex H. B. and O'Donnell, Frank J. (1998) A model of product development performance. In: Designers. Springer, pp. 269-283. ISBN 9781447112686

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The overriding aim of much product development research is to improve the performance of the Product Development Process (PDP). Yet we seem to know very little of how to measure improved performance or how performance metrics relate. The whole concept of performance as applied to this area is currently without underlying theory and no consensus exists on its definition or the most appropriate metrics to reflect performance. This has resulted in improvement efforts focused on isolated performance aspects without consideration of overall goals. For example, considerable work has aimed specifically at the reduction of product development cycle time even though there is evidence to suggest that this reduction does not correlate directly with success of the product in the market place. This paper presents a review of research in PDP performance to illustrate the various issues that have received attention and present existing work in this area. A definition and model of performance is proposed which is directed at developing a fundamental understanding of the phenomenon. The model contains the main elements of performance: efficiency and effectiveness, and provides a basis upon which to identify, formalise and analyse suitable performance metrics. To assist a company in achieving its goals the model supports specified objectives at any level or range in the product development process. A technique for assessing the factors influencing performance is also presented which is aimed at targeting key areas for performance improvement. It is concluded that, although the model relates the main elements of performance, further research is necessary to truly formalise performance and specify a suitable approach for its measurement.