NPD Processes

There are a number of different ways of organising new product development and types of NPD Process that have been developed over the years


Developed by Bob Cooper in the mid 80’s, this is now probably the most popular process. Rather than just concentrating on the engineering of a new product, it introduced the idea of including market research in the early stages.


This preceded Stage-Gate, but concentrated on the engineering activities only, as it was developed for large engineering projects, such as chemical plants and space rockets, rather than new products that had to be sold to a market. A Phase-Review type of process is still the cornerstone of general project management practice.

System Engineering

A formalised way of handling complex technical projects


The name for the traditional process that is used in software development that is very similar to system engineering. It takes a step by step approach, starting with establishing all the requirements.


A reaction to the problems and restrictions that some software developers saw in the Waterfall method, the Agile method focuses on ‘working software over comprehensive documentation’. Its main strength is in projects where it is difficult to ascertain the customer’s requirements with sufficient certainty. Therefore the best route is to quickly develop some software and show it to the customer to elicit feedback and this process and up with a more successful product that has been developed more efficiently.

Spiral Development

An iterative process, whereby development ‘spirals’ to the ultimate product design.

Lean Product Development

The adaptation of lean practices to product development, with some changes to recognise that product development is not the same as manufacturing

Knowledge-Based Engineering (also known as Set-Based Engineering)

Toyota’s method, whereby rather than concentrating on one solution as early as possible, as is often done in the West ( a point-based process), they look at a number of possible solutions as late as possible (a set of solutions, hence set-based development). The idea is to build up knowledge and trade-off curves for use in this and future projects, thus eventually making all projects more efficient, because of the bank of readily available knowledge that is available.

Rapid Product Development

Incorporating aspects of Queuing Theory and Batch Size Theory to reduce the Cost of Delay.

Flexible Product Development

Ways of making the Stage-Gate process more flexible.

Simultaneous Engineering

The idea that several tasks can happen in parallel, rather than sequentially, and that multi-disciplinary teams should work together, rather than ‘throwing things over the wall’. Often particularly used to incorporate early manufacturing engineering input, so as to ensure manufacturability.

Concurrent Engineering

The same as Simultaneous Engineering, just another name for it.

Skunk Works

Invented at Lockheed in the 1940’s, one could call this the original ‘agile’ approach. A small dedicated expert team getting on with the job, unencumbered by other pressures.