Managing Distributed Product Development. An Information and Knowledge Perspective
Product development is one of the most important activities in an industrial company, in order to strengthen the position at the market and achieve competitive advantages. Companies are under pressure to bring new products to the market faster, at a lower cost and with increased performance. In this demanding environment, companies frequently focus on their core competencies, search for external complementary knowledge and look for partners who can share the risk and cost, in order to stay competitive. Increased outsourcing results in a need to co-ordinate the work between multiple actors. Distributed product development is also dependent on the ability to manage information exchange between interfaces for upstream and downstream tasks, different sub-systems and different organisational functions.
The overall objective of this research is to enhance the knowledge of how sub-suppliers can be integrated with main suppliers and to provide guidelines and support for distributed product development. This research focuses on the distributed product development system, primarily on the relationship between main and sub-suppliers. Increased complexity stresses the need for models and methods that can be used for design teams to develop a shared understanding. In order to deal with this demand a holistic view is needed. This research applies a combination of systems theory and an actors' approach, with the aim of dealing with complex problems.
The results of this research are based on six different case studies, presented in seven appended papers. This research presents an interface model that can be used for main and sub-suppliers, with a structured procedure for improving their collaboration. This research work also contains increased knowledge for what the sub-suppliers can do in order to be integrated with the main supplier. A model for analysing the knowledge process between main and sub-suppliers has been developed. The potential for better utilising the sub-suppliers' knowledge has been confirmed.
A phenomena model has been developed that could support distributed product development. The model aims for a common understanding of involved stakeholders, requirements, functions and sub-systems during the design of the product. The knowledge of integrated product and process modelling has been further developed, in order to bridge, or at least minimise, the gap between product and process domain.
The results have industrial relevance as well. The thesis primarily addresses those managers, project managers, decisions-makers, planners and designers who are, or expect to be, responsible for distributed product development projects.
distributed product development
collaborative product development