Product development with customer focus: charting and analysis of processes concerning market information input to the product development system at Volvo Car Corporation

Involving the Voice of the Customer early in the product development process creates opportunities for high product quality and customer satisfaction. In the product development work at Volvo Car Corporation (VCC) customer focus is important and considered throughout the development process. VCC belongs to the Ford Motor Company family of brands, and has just recently adjusted their product development system to show more similarities with the rest of the family. The new system is called the Global Product Development System (GPDS 2.1).

The Market Intelligence department (MI) at VCC is responsible for continually collecting and analysing information about customers and competitors. The department is involved in a number of activities in GPDS 2.1, and they have asked for assistance in specifying contribution and timing for theses.

To clarify the expectations on MI, five of its main contributions to GPDS 2.1 have been studied and analysed. The first of them is a delivery called the Voice of the Market, and it describes the potential customers and competitors for a vehicle that is being developed. The other contributions are called research Clinics, and that means organized evaluation meetings with customers that are conducted at specific milestones in GPDS 2.1. The four Clinics in GPDS 2.1 are called Directional Clinic, Concept Clinic, Theme and Packaging Clinic, and Marketability Clinic.

These five mentioned product development sub-processes have been charted, and the result has been presented as instruction templates in order to be able to help the personnel at MI in their future work. Improvement suggestions concerning the processes have also been given to increase the quality of their result.

Areas that can be improved in the Voice of the Market process are; handling information flow, working with continual improvements, securing the process, and motivating the personnel. Suggested solutions include working closer to the internal Client, evaluating the process continually, educating the personnel regularly, and giving feedback to the people involved in the process.

The research Clinics should also be evaluated regularly in a more structured way. Furthermore, routines for ordering a Clinic should be more formally set and the Client be informed about what input should be provided to MI when he/she places the order. Finally the audience at the presentations of Clinic results could increase if MI promoted their work at for example meetings with the product development project group. If more people attend the presentations, the importance of the Voice of the Customer could be spread through every department at VCC.

Author: Johansson, Jenny; Lundmark, Asa

Source: Lulea University of Technology

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