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Concept Screening in Product Development

Dive into an in-depth exploration of concept screening in product development, a fundamental phase in engineering. This comprehensive guide offers a thorough understanding of the basics of concept screening, underlining its importance and benefits. You'll journey through each stage of product development, examining concept screening's pivotal role. Discover effective concept evaluation methods, understand how to select the right approach, and understand the criteria for successful concept screening. Lastly, get acquainted with popular tools to aid in concept screening for more efficient product development.

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Concept Screening in Product Development

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Dive into an in-depth exploration of concept screening in product development, a fundamental phase in engineering. This comprehensive guide offers a thorough understanding of the basics of concept screening, underlining its importance and benefits. You'll journey through each stage of product development, examining concept screening's pivotal role. Discover effective concept evaluation methods, understand how to select the right approach, and understand the criteria for successful concept screening. Lastly, get acquainted with popular tools to aid in concept screening for more efficient product development.

Understanding the Basics of Concept Screening in Product Development

Concept Screening Basics: An Introduction

Concept screening in product development refers to a systematic process employed to choose the most feasible concept amongst several alternatives generated during the ideation phase. The end goal of this technique is to ensure successful product development and market acceptance by evaluating potential solutions based on relevant criteria such as feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and market potential.

Initially, a broad range of ideas is gathered and refined in a process often referred to as concept generation. Following this step, the concept screening process takes over to systematically filter and rank those ideas, catapulting the most promising concepts to the developmental phase.

Concept screening: A phase in the product development journey where various concepts are carefully assessed and the most promising one(s) selected for further elaboration.

Concept screening utilizes a weighted decision matrix where each concept is evaluated against set criteria. This is not a one-time procedure but an iterative process, which is often repeated to refine the chosen concept, ensuring alignment with customer needs and market dynamics.

Example: Imagine a company that designs eco-friendly household appliances. During the concept generation phase, they brainstorm ideas for a new energy-saving dishwasher. Ideas could range from a model with AI capabilities to a waterless dishwasher. Next, during the concept screening process, each idea is thoroughly examined and scored based on factors such as cost, market potential, eco-friendliness, technological feasibility, etc. The idea with the highest score proceeds to the next phase of the product development process.

Importance and Benefits of Concept Screening in Product Development

Concept screening plays a pivotal role in the success of product development. It not only saves valuable time and resources that could be wasted on pursuing non-sustainable concepts but also increases the chances of creating a product that meets market and customer needs effectively.

  • Resource Optimization: By screening out concepts that are not viable early in the development process, resources such as time, money, and human efforts are optimized.
  • Risk Management: It helps manage risks by identifying any potential issues in the early stages of project development.
  • Alignment with Market Needs: It ensures the chosen product concept aligns with consumer needs, market trends, and the company’s strategic direction.
  • Faster Time to Market: By streamlining the ideation process, concept screening can help companies beat the competition to market.

The concept screening process, when conducted effectively, can drastically improve a product's chances of success. It helps build a rigorous foundation for the development process and saves subsequent time and effort downstream in the development timeline. Thus, it plays an invaluable role in the sphere of product development.

Deep Dive: A popular tool used in the concept screening process is Pugh’s Matrix, a simple tabular format that aids in the comparison of different concepts against a reference concept (a datum) based on a set of established criteria. Each concept is then evaluated as 'Better', 'Same', or 'Worse' compared to the reference concept. This comparative analysis helps in distinguishing the most promising concept(s) from the pool.

Stages of Product Development and Concept Screening

In the journey of product development, each stage plays a critical role in determining the product's success. Careful weaving of concept screening within these stages sharpens the focus, improves resource allocation and drives the product down the most favourable track.

Overview of Product Development Stages

Product development can be broadly divided into several stages, each having its own significance. While the names and specifics of these stages may vary between industries, the typical development journey proceeds from idea generation to launch and post-launch review. A comprehensive understanding of these stages paves the way to better understand the part played by concept screening in successful product development.

  • Idea Generation: This initial phase is characterised by brainstorming and ideation. Here, diverse ideas for a new product are gathered, often inspired by market trends, consumer needs, or technological advancements.
  • Concept Development: Once ideas are gathered, they are refined into more concrete product concepts. These concepts are detailed proposals describing the product's functionality, features, and benefits.
  • Concept Screening: The concept screening phase then assesses these product concepts based on relevant criteria such as feasibility, cost, and market potential. This stage optimizes resources by pruning out weak concepts early on.
  • Development: At this stage, technical and marketing specifics are decided, prototypes are designed, and initial testing is performed.
  • Testing and Validation: Here, the product and marketing plan are tested in real or simulated markets. Any required adjustments are made before finalising for production.
  • Launch: In this breakthrough stage, the product is introduced to the market, alongside appropriate marketing initiatives.
  • Review: Post-launch, the product's market performance is evaluated regularly to adapt to any changes in market dynamics or consumer behaviours.

Product Development Stages: Specific phases a product goes through, from the initial idea to market launch and review, each phase offering an opportunity for evaluation, refinement, and decision-making.

Pivotal Role of Concept Screening in Each Stage

Concept screening, situated after ideation and concept development, has critical implications for the subsequent stages of product development. It shapes the trajectory for the remaining development process, underlining its significance.

Example: In the development stage, without a well-executed concept screening phase, teams could waste resources developing a technically complex product that does not align with market needs. In other words, concept screening provides a clear roadmap for development activities and decreases the risk of misguided efforts.

In the testing and validation stage, concept screening plays a crucial role as well. Here, the product and marketing plan are tested extensively. However, if the concept screening process hasn't been conducted effectively, unrealistic concepts may reach this stage leading to investment of time and resources in validating a product that might not feasibly meet the market requirements.

Furthermore, in the critical launch stage, a product resulting from an unsubstantiated concept (due to lax concept screening) may not resonate well with customers, impacting the product's initial reception and sale performance. Similarly, during the post-launch review stage, if the product's concept was not well-screened initially, it could underperform or not align with market/brand dynamics causing additional revisions or even product failure.

Concept Screening: A decisive process after concept development that evaluates and selects the most promising product concepts based on multiple criteria such as technical feasibility, cost implications, and market dynamics.

Given the far-reaching impacts of concept screening on every stage of product development, it is deemed as one of the most pivotal aspects of successful product development. It's not just an evaluative mechanism but a significant determinant of the product's market viability, acceptance, and ultimate success.

Effective Concept Evaluation Methods for Product Development

Concept screening wouldn’t accomplish its objectives without effective evaluation methods. These procedures act as the adjudicators in the journey from a mere idea to a successful product in the market. Let's delve deeper into understanding and choosing optimal evaluation methods for successful concept screening.

Understanding Different Concept Evaluation Methods

The concept evaluation stage of product development encompasses various methods, each with its distinct benefits, consideration factors and approach. The methods often used are Pugh Matrix, Feasibility Analysis, and Integrated Product Development.

The Pugh Matrix or Pugh’s Decision Matrix is a popular and simple analytical tool used to compare and weigh multiple options against defined criteria. The matrix includes all the concepts that need to be evaluated, with each corresponding to a row. The columns represent the criteria, which are often predetermined on the basis of project requirements, market dynamics, and product functionality. Concepts are then evaluated as either 'better', 'the same', or 'worse' than a selected reference concept (datum), and scored as '+1', '0', or '-1' respectively. A final score for each concept, the sum of each criterion score, then becomes the basis for concept selection.

Pugh Matrix: Constructed by creating a grid of concepts against success criteria. Each concept is compared with a standard reference concept (datum), and assigned a score based on its relative performance.

For example, consider the following Pugh Matrix:
CriteriaConcept 1Concept 2Concept 3
Cost+10-1
Feasibility0+1+1
Market Potential-1+10
TOTAL0+20

Feasibility Analysis, on the other hand, is another frequently used concept evaluation technique. Here, the key objective is to assess whether the development and manufacture of the proposed concept are viable, realistic and achievable within set constraints such as time, budget, technological capacities, and regulatory requirements. It may involve both qualitative and quantitative evaluations.

Feasibility Analysis: A studio analysis of how a product concept matches existing constraints and potential future constraints.

Finally, the Integrated Product Development (IPD) method facilitates concept evaluation by leveraging cross-functional team expertise. It includes various product development phases, such as concept generation, concept evaluation, detailed designing, and testing. The principle of IPD relies on gathering a broad spectrum of expertise to inform decision-making at every step in the product development journey.

Choosing the Right Evaluation Method for Concept Screening

Choosing an appropriate method for concept evaluation is as critical as the process itself. The chosen method should align with the product’s objectives, requirements, and constraints, and be in harmony with the organization's strategic direction. Several factors impact this choice, including the nature of the product, target market characteristics, available resources, project timeline, and complexity of the concepts.

Here are a few guiding principles for the selection:
  • Nature of the Product: Some products may require complex technological assessments or legal considerations, favoring a Feasibility Analysis approach.
  • Market Dynamics: If a product caters to a quickly evolving market, the IPD method may be useful due to its comprehensive and iterative nature.
  • Resources: The availability or limitation of resources such as time, money and workforce can influence the choice. Faster and less intensive methods such as Pugh’s Matrix could be optimal when resources are limited.
  • Projected Timeline: The project timeline is an important factor, with quicker methods favoring early product realization.
  • Concept Complexity: For complex concepts involving multiple variables, comprehensive analysis techniques could be more beneficial.
At the end of the day, it is essential for the chosen evaluation method to serve its purpose of advancing the most promising, viable, and cost-effective product concepts. A well-chosen method is like a lit torch guiding the journey from an idea to an appreciated, used, and loved product.

Criteria for Successful Concept Screening in Engineering

Threshold criteria and objective criteria are essential for successful concept screening in engineering, aiding in effectively ranking the various product concepts. Using these criteria, engineers evaluate whether concepts meet minimum thresholds and align with the project's objectives. As engineers generate and develop multiple concepts during the product development process, specifying and applying these criteria enables them to choose the most promising concepts for further development.

Essential Screening Criteria in Engineering: A Guide

Threshold criteria, which form the first level of concept screening, include mandatory requirements that a potential concept must meet for consideration. These are non-negotiable aspects that a concept needs to fulfil to pass the first screening gate. They might include parameters like cost, safety, or compliance with strict regulations or technical standards. For instance, if the product is a piece of medical equipment, one threshold criterion might be adherence to specific health and safety regulations.
  • Cost: The concept must align with the project's budget and offer a profitable proposition. High-cost concepts are eliminated unless they bring exceptional benefits or unique selling propositions.
  • Safety: Safety parameters vary for different products, especially for those impacting human health or relating to hazardous materials. Any potentially unsafe concept is removed at the outset.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Products must comply with relevant industry standards and regulations. For example, food products need to meet the food safety standards set by regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration or European Food Safety Authority.

Threshold Criteria: Minimum standards or requirements a product concept must meet to pass the initial screening phase.

Objective criteria are the distinct measurable attributes and specifications of a product concept that help differentiate one from another. Parameters might include novelty, technological feasibility, market potential, ease of manufacture, or potential return on investment. Mapping these attributes allows objective comparison and ranking of concepts to identify the most promising ones for further development.
  • Novelty: Innovative or novel features in a concept can differentiate the product in the market, contributing to its unique selling proposition.
  • Technological Feasibility: The concept must be feasible in terms of present technology and the company’s technological capabilities.
  • Market Potential: Concepts with higher market potential are favoured. This potential can be in terms of size, profitability, sustainability, or growth potential.
  • Ease of Manufacture: If a concept is easier to manufacture, it can lead to reduced production costs and time, resulting in increased profit.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Concepts with high ROI projections are valued as they ensure the product's eventual profitability, considering the initial investment and the potential return.

Objective Criteria: Measurable attributes of a product concept that allows for its assessment and comparison with other concepts during the screening process.

How to Apply Screening Criteria in Concept Evaluation

Once the threshold and objective criteria are defined, they are successively applied to eliminate and rank concepts. One convenient way of applying these criteria in concept screening is through a screening matrix, like the Pugh matrix, or a decision tree. Such matrices allow systematic evaluation of concepts against the criteria set. Let's consider a hypothetical Pugh Matrix to understand how it works:
CriteriaConcept AConcept BConcept C
Cost+10-1
Safety+1+1+1
Regulatory Compliance+1+10
Novelty-1+10
Feasibility0-1+1
Market Potential+1+1+1
Ease of Manufacture+10-1
ROI0+1-1
TOTAL+3+3-1
In such a matrix, the threshold criteria are applied first to identify the concepts failing any of the non-negotiable factors. Those concepts are eliminated from further consideration. For instance, if Concept C does not comply with critical regulations, it is eliminated in the first screening gate, irrespective of its score on other grounds. The remaining concepts are then evaluated based on objective criteria. As per the scores in the different parameters, a total score is calculated, and concepts with higher overall scores are considered favourable for further development. In our example, Concepts A and B, having the highest total score, are chosen for furthering the product development process. Given the pivotal role of concept screening in the product development journey, understanding and applying the correct screening criteria in an efficient manner can significantly streamline this journey, ensuring that only the most promising, aligned, and viable concepts advance further.

Tools to Aid in Concept Screening in Product Development

Concept screening in product development is a multifaceted process, and it can significantly benefit from the use of dedicated tools. These tools, including specialized software and decision-making matrices, facilitate the effective application of threshold and objective criteria in sifting through numerous product concepts. They can boost the efficiency of the concept screening process and improve the objectivity and accuracy of results.

Popular Concept Screening Tools: An Overview

To simplify the concept screening process and enhance its effectiveness, a variety of tools have been developed within the engineering and product development domain. Some are software applications designed to manage the process, and others are decision-making frameworks or models.
  • Pugh Matrix: This is a scoring matrix used for concept selection and prioritization. It allows comparison of multiple concepts against each other based on predefined and weighted criteria. Each concept is scored relative to a baseline concept across all the criteria, then all the scores are summed up for a total sum.
  • Quality Function Deployment (QFD): Often represented as a House of Quality, QFD is a framework that translates customer requirements into specific product measures. It provides a systematic process to help set and prioritise design targets.
  • Morphological Analysis: It's a method for exploring all the possible solutions in a complex problem space. In product development, it's used to generate product concepts by combining different product attributes.
  • Concept Selection Software: There are several software applications, like QFD Designer and Decision Matrix, that facilitate the screening and selection process. They provide a digital platform to enter, compare, and rank concepts based on predefined criteria.
These tools allow engineering teams to visualise, assess, score, and compare product concepts against defined criteria, making the process of concept screening more streamlined and systematic.

For instance, in a Pugh Matrix, if you're scanning three product concepts for a new electronic device, you would score each concept against criteria such as cost, power usage, market potential, and technological feasibility. Each of these criteria would have predefined importance weights. Using this scoring matrix, you can easily compare and evaluate each concept based on their scores, thereby aiding in the selection of the most suitable concept.

How to Effectively Use Concept Screening Tools for Better Results

Making the most of concept screening tools involves more than just correctly applying them. It also requires a clear understanding of how to set up and interpret the results generated by these tools.

For instance, when using the Pugh Matrix or any decision-making matrix, ensure that the criteria used for screening and their weights accurately represent the product requirements and objectives. This can significantly affect the accuracy of the concept evaluations.

With Morphological Analysis, the selection of the different attributes or qualities that will be combined to generate new concepts is crucial. These should be as comprehensive as possible to explore the entire problem space but must still be pragmatic and relevant to the product's context.

Software applications for concept screening usually offer a range of features that can improve the efficiency and accuracy of the process. However, to exploit these features to their best, you must:
  • Ensure Data Quality: The reliability of the software's output depends on the quality of the data input. Make sure that the data related to concepts and criteria is accurate and complete.
  • Training and Expertise: Use software tools only if you are familiar with them or if training is provided. Incorrect usage can lead to misleading results.
  • Interpreting Results: Results provided by software tools need to be correctly interpreted in the context of the product development process. For instance, a concept with a high score in a decision matrix software should still align with other non-quantifiable aspects under consideration.
These pointers can considerably enhance the effectiveness of concept screening in product development by making the tools more valuable.

Every tool brings unique aspects to the concept screening process. The Pugh Matrix is a well structured, comparative method that encourages holistic thinking among the engineering team. On the other hand, software can handle complex calculations and vast amounts of data, providing quick and accurate results. The choice among these tools is dependent on several factors like number and complexity of concepts, availability and familiarity with software, and nature and scale of the project.

Remember, the crux of using concept screening tools effectively lies in understanding your own product development process and requirements and then aligning the use of these tools with them.

Concept Screening in Product Development - Key takeaways

  • Product Development Stages: These are specific phases a product goes through from the initial idea to market launch and review. Each phase offers an opportunity for evaluation, refinement, and decision-making.
  • Concept Screening: A decisive process after concept development that assesses and selects the most promising product concepts based on multiple criteria such as technical feasibility, cost implications, and market dynamics.
  • Concept Evaluation Methods: Procedures that explore the viability of product concepts in the journey from a mere idea to a successful product in the market. Some common methods include Pugh Matrix, Feasibility Analysis, and Integrated Product Development (IPD).
  • Screening Criteria in Engineering: These are essential for successful concept screening and include threshold criteria (minimum requirements a product concept must meet to pass the initial screening phase) and objective criteria (measurable attributes that allow for assessment and comparison with other concepts during the screening process).
  • Concept Screening Tools: These are utilized to apply screening criteria and may take the form of a screening matrix, like the Pugh Matrix, or a decision tree. These tools allow for the systematic evaluation of concepts against the set criteria.

Frequently Asked Questions about Concept Screening in Product Development

Concept screening in design engineering is a process used to evaluate and narrow down a range of product design ideas. It involves critiquing each concept against a set of predefined criteria to select the most promising options for development.

Concept screening fits into the early stages of product development. It is used following the idea generation phase, helping to review and evaluate the preliminary concepts before proceeding into the detailed design, testing, and production phases.

In Design Engineering, concept evaluation methods include the Pugh Matrix, Decision Matrix Method, Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), Quality Function Deployment (QFD), and concept testing through prototypes and simulations.

Common criteria used in concept screening include technical feasibility, market viability, cost-effectiveness, compatibility with existing products or systems, meeting regulatory requirements, and environmental sustainability.

Design Engineering can utilise tools such as Pugh Concept Selection, morphological analysis, SWOT analysis, decision-matrix methods, and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to assist with concept screening in product development.

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

What is the concept screening in product development?

What are some of the benefits of incorporating concept screening in product development?

What is Pugh’s Matrix in the context of concept screening?

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What is the concept screening in product development?

Concept screening in product development is a process employed to select the most feasible concept from several alternatives generated during the ideation phase. It uses a weighted decision matrix to evaluate potential solutions based on criteria such as feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and market potential.

What are some of the benefits of incorporating concept screening in product development?

Concept screening helps optimise resources by screening out non-viable concepts early on, manages risks by identifying potential issues in early stages, ensures the chosen product concept aligns with market and customer needs, and can hasten the time to market by streamlining the ideation process.

What is Pugh’s Matrix in the context of concept screening?

Pugh’s Matrix is a tool used in the concept screening process. It's a simple tabular format that helps to compare different concepts against a reference concept (a datum) based on a set of established criteria. Each concept is then evaluated as 'Better', 'Same', or 'Worse' compared to the reference concept.

What stages does product development typically go through?

Product development usually proceeds from idea generation, concept development, concept screening, development, testing and validation, then launch, and finally post-launch review.

What is the role of concept screening in product development?

Concept screening evaluates and selects the most promising product concepts based on criteria such as technical feasibility, cost implications, and market dynamics. This shaping the trajectory for the remaining development process by reducing risks and optimizing resources.

Why is concept screening considered a determinant of a product's success?

Concept screening is crucial as it optimizes resources by ruling out weak concepts early on, reducing the risk of misguided efforts in development, testing, and launch stages. Hence, it is a significant determinant of a product's market viability, acceptance, and ultimate success.

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