Guidance in developing a sustainability product portfolio in manufacturing companies

Abstract: During the last decade, manufacturing companies have experienced an increased demand for solutions that promote socio-ecological sustainability. To succeed in the sustainability transformation, companies need to systematically and strategically implement sustainability performance in their product portfolios. Many companies decide which services, products, and technologies to include in their product portfolios using evaluation criteria related to, for example, cost, quality, risk, revenue, time, and market position. However, often, sustainability aspects are not integrated into such criteria. Incorporating sustainability aspects in the portfolio evaluation criteria could ensure the development of sustainability-promoting solutions. This should be done in the early stages of the product development process, where there is more room for innovation than later in the process. The aim of this research is to provide a better understanding of how sustainability performance can be implemented in the product portfolio process of manufacturing companies and thereby support the companies’ sustainability transformation. The research has focused on: 1) how to define the concept of sustainability product portfolios based on the state of the art and the state of practice, 2) determining the current situation in industry related to implementation of sustainability performance in product portfolios, 3) identifying the most used criteria and tools for product portfolio evaluation, and 4) determining how product portfolios are planned, implemented and managed. Literature reviews, interviews and workshops were used to collect data from seven large manufacturing companies located in Sweden, one small company located in Colombia, and several research groups and master level student groups. The collected data from industrial cases was organized, processed, analyzed, and verified to provide academic and industry background, to guide the implementation of sustainability performance in the product portfolioThe results from the studies provided a basis for creating guidance in developing a sustainability product portfolio in a company. The guidance includes: i) a definition of the sustainability product portfolio concept; ii) a list of common product portfolio evaluation criteria to be used for a  selection of  portfolio components; iii) key factors to succeed with the integration of sustainability aspects in portfolio development and to implement sustainability performance in the product portfolio; iv) an initial conceptualization model to support the sustainability implementation process in product portfolios; and, v) a digitalized and game-based prototype of the strategic layered double-flow scenario modeling for sustainability risk and portfolio management (STARDUST) method, to guide companies in the implementation of sustainability in their product portfolio. With the outcome of this research, practitioners can be supported in their decision-making, especially in the planning stages, with a strategic sustainability perspective to identify sustainability hotspots. Moreover, evaluate portfolio components with a sustainability-informed market-success perspective, compare solutions, and identify benefits and risk that might modify the product portfolio over time.  

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