Managing Collaborative Product Development : A Model for Identifying Key Factors in Product Development Projects

Abstract: The increasing complexity of products and systems today has forced new processes, methods, and tools for managing the development of products. It has also forced the development of complex organisations and diverse relationships among functions and peoples within product development organisations. This implies a need for integrated processes. There is a need to study collaborative product development (CPD) from a holistic perspective, where internal as well as external collaboration are studied as integrated parts of CPD settings.Thus, the main purpose of the research project is to facilitate the efficient execution of collaborative product development projects in the manufacturing industry. Further, the objective is to provide a supporting model for analysing and setting up projects in CPD settings. This will enable successful product development in terms of lowering costs, increasing the perceived quality of the product, and improving the timing to market. The focus is on the CPD projects, linking internal and external collaboration.A systems approach is applied to the research project to obtain the holistic view needed for addressing the CPD setting. Within the research project, case study research is used as the primary method when gathering empirics. The results from four case studies are tested and analysed in a concluding survey.The results show that shared visions and goals, the decision-making process, tools and methods, requirement management, and involvement are the most important factors for efficient CPD projects. If the collaborative complexity is high, the first four factors are especially important. The results are presented in a model to be used as a support when setting-up and managing CPD projects. The model is applied together with a process for managing CPD projects.