Most organizations use new product development (NPD) processes that consist of activities and review points. Activities basically solve problems and gather and produce information about the viability of successfully completing the project. Interspersed between the development activities are review points where project information is reviewed and a decision is made to either go on to the next stage of the process, stop it prior to completion, or hold it until more information is gathered and a better decision can be made. The review points are for controlling risk, prioritizing projects, and allocating resources, and the review team typically is cross-disciplinary, comprising senior managers from marketing, finance, research and development (R&D), or manufacturing. Over the past four decades, research has greatly advanced knowledge with respect to NPD activities; however, much less is known about review practices. For this reason, the present paper reports findings of a study on NPD project review practices from 425 Product Development & Management Association (PDMA) members. The focus is on three decision points in the NPD process common across organizations (i.e., initial screen, prior to development and testing, and prior to commercialization). In this paper, the number of (1) review points used, (2) review criteria, (3) decision makers on review committees and the proficiency with which various evaluation criteria are used are compared across incremental and radical projects and across functional areas (i.e., marketing, technical, financial). Furthermore, the associations between these NPD review practices and new product performance are examined. Selected results show that more review points are used for radical NPD projects than incremental ones, and this is related to a relatively lower rate of survival for radical projects. The findings also show that the number of criteria used to evaluate NPD projects increases as NPD projects progress and that the number of review team members grows over the stages, too. Surprisingly, the results reveal that more criteria are used to evaluate incremental NPD projects than radical ones. As expected, managers appear to more proficiently use evaluation criteria when making project continuation/termination decisions for incremental projects; they use these criteria less proficiently during the development of radical projects, precisely when proficiency is most critical. At each review point, technical criteria were found to be the most frequently used type for incremental projects, and financial criteria were the most commonly used type for radical ones. Importantly, only review proficiency is significantly associated with performance; the number of review points, review team size, and number of review criteria are not associated with new product performance. Furthermore, only the coefficient for proficiently using marketing criteria was significantly related to new product program performance; the proficiency of using financial and technical information has no association with performance. Finally, across the three focal review points of the NPD process in this study, only the coefficient for proficiency at the first review point, (i.e., the initial screen) is significantly greater than zero. The results are discussed with respect to research and managerial practice, and future research directions are offered.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation