Like nearly every other process in manufacturing, product design and development has gone global. Companies are partnering with other firms to improve design, gain better access to new markets and speed up time to market. Others are offshoring or outsourcing to reduce costs. Whatever the reason, "the strategy to design products across a global network of companies and individuals continues to grow," according to a study from analyst firm Aberdeen Group.
The best companies are doing this so well they are 52% more likely to meet product launch target dates and 28% more likely to meet product development cost targets than industry-average firms, the consulting firm says.
Design collaboration in a global environment continues to present challenges, protection of intellectual property being just one. However, following certain steps can help improve the collaborative design process. Aberdeen recommends the following in its benchmark report "Profitable Design Chains: Global Product Design Comes of Age":
- Enable the design chain to operate in parallel to accelerate innovation while minimizing the impact of rework.
- Coordinate the design chain through formal project management, formal review processes and centralized product design data to standardize and automate product development processes.
- Implement software solutions that protect intellectual property while enabling global design chains to collaborate.
A white paper from product lifecycle management solution provider PTC offers several additional tips:
- Be sure to understand the value drivers of the global collaboration.
- Align key stakeholders.
- Identify improvements.
- Set clear measures for success and determine a timeline of events.