Product development includes not only the creation and launch of new products but also modification or updates to existing products and initiatives to introduce changes to the overall development program including quality improvements, reduction of time to market, enhanced collaboration with suppliers, plant modernization and technology updates. Regardless of the focus the goal of the product development process should be to find new and innovative ways to meet customer needs that are not currently being served by the company. Successful product development is essential for launching a company and for ensuring that the company continues to survive and prosper as competitive conditions and customer requirements change over time, and while a good deal of product development efforts focus on building the company’s existing product line they can also be used to vault the company into an entirely new set of activities, markets and/or industries. In many industries product development is a core competency that must be acquired and nurtured in order for a company to remain in business and companies have come to realize that they must commit a substantial amount of their investible R&D funds to new product development. No one academic or organizational discipline can claim complete ownership of product innovation and it has attracted the interest of researchers whose primary focus includes economics, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, operations research and organizational behavior.
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