Project Management and Lean Thinking: Similarities and Differences in New Product Development

After discussing role of lean thinking in the New Product Development (NPD) process here, alongside with the role of the project management for the same purpose here, it is the time to examine the similarities and differences between the two approaches. Within this context, NPD is defined as

” the sequence of steps or activities which an enterprise employs to conceive, design and commercialize a product” (Ulrich & Eppinger 2008, p.12).

A successful new products development effort is characterized by five factors (Ulrich & Eppinger 2008, p.2):

  1. Product quality;
  2. Product cost;
  3. Development time;
  4. Development cost;
  5. Development capability.

The below Venn diagram summarizes the similarities and differences between Lean and Project Management in the NPD process.

venn

As a conclusion, although the two approaches agree on the importance of having cross- functional team that work proactively to manage the NPD, and using the existing knowledge and skills in the companies in order to fulfill the requirements of all stakeholder, lean is better in achieving the five characteristics especially in uncertain conditions and high innovative products. Eliminating the waste from the NPD process will result in better quality of the final product, less product cost, less development time and cost and eventually better team’s capability in handling future NPD process. On the other hand, there are no wide researches on how traditional project management can achieve those results especially under the high complexity and innovation (Pons 2008). More approaches are needed as discussed earlier here.

References

 Pons, D., 2008. Project Management for New Product Development. Project Management Journal, 39(2), pp.82–97.

Ulrich, K. & Eppinger, S., 2008. Product Design and Development 1st ed., Boston,Mass: McGraw-Hill.

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