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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

July - 2008 - issue > Technology

Lean Product Development: The Next Frontier

Ashutosh Parasnis
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Ashutosh Parasnis
Now the terms ‘lean manufacturing’ and ‘lean enterprise’ are quite popular and well accepted. The ‘lean’ approach is acknowledged as a way of doing business in the present challenging environment. The ‘lean’ principles are easy to understand and accept. The challenge is in implementing them.
Such an approach revolves around concepts which have been talked about since time immemorial. However, it is only recently that the ‘lean manufacturing’ and enterprise concepts have been given a serious look as businesses combat the ever increasing pressures of customer satisfaction, cost reduction, globalization, compliance, time to market, growth, and profitability.

Lean manufacturing aims to ‘do it right the first time’, while minimizing waste (this refers not just to the physical waste but more importantly to non-value add processes as well) and being open to change. Toyota led this effort by what is now the well known Toyota Production System (TPS). The global manufacturing industry went about researching, learning, or adopting similar practices only to find out that they did not achieve significant business success, like gaining competitive advantage.

The reason for this most probably lies in the fact that emulating only the manufacturing practices is not enough. This can put a company’s manufacturing practices at par with other leaders. But what about the products themselves? If quantum improvements are needed in areas such as competitive advantage and market share - which can lead to higher revenue growth and profitability - companies need to build winning products! Thus, Toyota’s leadership today is not only because of TPS.
Leading companies around the world recognize this fact and are applying the ‘lean’ principles to other activities of the value chain. ­Examples of activities even before a product is manufactured are product development, planning, parts sourcing, purchasing, and so on. It is in this context that most companies are realizing that Lean Product Development is the next frontier, since it provides a greater level of opportunity for improvement. Lean manufacturing still delivers significant value but is no longer a competitive differentiator.

In Focus - Product Development

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