Success Factors for Quality in Product Development

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för industriell ekonomi; Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för industriell ekonomi

Abstract:

Background: Today’s fast-paced product development cycles and increasing complexity of automotive products require new processes, methods and tools to manage product development organizations. Besides that, reduced cost and higher product quality calls for increased product development effectiveness and efficiency since product development stands for significant part of the quality costs. This implies a need for holistic approach by sharing and creating new knowledge and faster problem solving in projects. Purpose: The aim of this thesis is to examine the factors that affect product quality, development cost and development time in automotive product development organizations. This thesis reviews existing literature in fields of quality management, lean product development and knowledge management with special focus on the factors that affect product quality, cost and development times. Three factors that affect product quality, cost and time are identified as:  Cross functional teams  Knowledge Integration  Knowledge Flexibility Method: A qualitative research case study is performed at a major automotive manufacturer in Sweden. Semi structured interviews are used to collect as much information as possible from respondents at two automotive product development companies. Collected data is analyzed using pattern matching techniques where the theoretical model is tested against the observed or actual model. Member checking and peer reviews are used to further enhance the credibility of this study. Main findings: The outcome of this study is that product quality can be improved by using the cross-functional teams, work force with knowledge in multiple fields and by integrating previous product knowledge during the product development. Knowledge creation and sharing are fundamental in innovative product development. As such organizations need to develop processes to facilitate knowledge sharing and knowledge creation. Information integration may not be effective during innovative product development due to the lack of previous product knowledge. Both cross functional teams and knowledge integration appears to have strong influence on product quality and development cost. However, knowledge flexibility is not fully supported for development of innovative products. It appears that both generalists and specialists are needed to not end up in quality issues or loss of innovations. Project leaders with skills in more than one field will improve correct and timely decision making as well as integrating different views in cross functional teams which will lead to improved product quality and lower development cost and time.

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