Challenges of Implementing a Product Life Cycle Process : A Study at Stora Enso

University essay from KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM)

Abstract: Today, there is a great need for companies to be dynamic and cope with the fast-changing environment to stay competitive, stressing the need for well-defined processes for innovation and product portfolio management. For larger companies, it has been proven to be difficult to change traditional ways of working and adjust to new changes. Stora Enso is a large company, consisting of six different divisions with individual products, markets and processes for innovation and managing product life cycles. The lack of a common process causes problems in communicating, comparing results, and sharing resources between the divisions. In order to work in a more unified way, the company decided to introduce a cross-divisional process called Product Life Cycle Process (PLCP). The purpose of this study is therefore to analyze how a large company works with and manages the implementation of a new process and identify what challenges the company might face when dealing with this type of change. A literature study was performed in order to collect information regarding change management, innovation and product portfolio management processes as well as the implementation of these. Since the PLCP should be used in all divisions, information was collected by qualitative interviews from all six divisions to understand their plans, challenges and success factors. The results showed that all divisions were positive about the implementation of the new PLCP on a divisional level and saw benefits with the PLCP having similarities to their old ways of working, making the adaptation somewhat easier. The greatest challenges mentioned were lack of defined ownership and roles, employee resistance, lack of resources, flexibility, and support from management. All the divisions were also positive towards the company having one joint process and could see potential benefits like an overall common understanding and improved transparency between divisional products and projects. However, the greatest challenge mentioned was the fundamental differences between the divisions due to different products, projects, and strategies. To be able to meet changes in trends, needs, and requirements from customers, the study proved that Stora Enso is going in the right direction with the implementation of a joint process. Introducing the PLCP enables the company to speed up innovation and to commercialize products faster. Following are future recommendations provided for the company to further manage the implementation and work with the PLCP. Stora Enso needs to communicate a clear vision for how the company should handle the implementation and implement one IT-tool that includes managing products, support infrastructure, and performance measuring. They should also provide all managers and employees training and collect feedback from all divisions throughout the implementation. Stora Enso should also create and define clear product definitions and ownership roles for each division and take into consideration the different prerequisites of the division when planning the implementation of the PLCP. The company must therefore provide different time plans and financial support to the divisions based on their preconditions.

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