Title: Efficient front-loading through knowledge integration

Authors: Simge Tuna; Georg Windisch

Addresses: Department of Management, Technology, and Economics (D-MTEC), Chair of Technology and Innovation Management, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland ' Department of Management, Technology, and Economics (D-MTEC), Chair of Technology and Innovation Management, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract: 'Front-loading', proficiency in new product development (NPD) early planning, is commonly acknowledged to improve performance. However, there is little empirical evidence on the micro-processes that improve NPD-specific efficiency outcomes. This paper analyses the specific front-loading capabilities needed to reduce waste in NPD. We investigate 53 NPD projects pursued between 2007 to 2012 by a company in the factory automation and control industry. Archival project documents are used to identify front-loading activities and efficiency outcomes; interviews were conducted with project managers and engineers. The results show that projects with systematic knowledge integration at the front-end show significantly better schedule attainment than projects with no systematic knowledge integration at the front-end. Front-loading capabilities are best described as knowledge transfer from past projects. There is also evidence that knowledge integration from downstream functions and testing has a joint impact on time efficiency.

Keywords: front loading; knowledge integration; NPD front end; new product development; lean product development; project management; waste reduction; factory automation and control industry; knowledge transfer; time efficiency.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPD.2014.064878

International Journal of Product Development, 2014 Vol.19 No.5/6, pp.286 - 306

Received: 01 Jul 2013
Accepted: 21 Apr 2014

Published online: 19 Sep 2014 *

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