Got a good idea? Have a word with procurement

19 January 2011
Yet more evidence that involving procurement from the start can result in a better and more cost-effective product. They don’t actually say so, but if you read between the lines, that’s the result…Research has found that the biggest challenge faced by manufacturers of consumer products is how to manage quality in product development, while simultaneously keeping costs down. The study – by Redshift Research on behalf of design technology company Autodesk – polled 300 “decision makers and influencers” in the UK, Germany and France. Nine out of 10 said this was their chief challenge. A total of 74 per cent highlighted the importance of keeping a tight control on manufacturing costs, while trying to get innovative new products to the market quickly. The answer, the research suggested, was being able to see what a final design looks like early in the process, because this helps to reduce inefficiencies and costs associated with going back to the drawing board. As Autodesk says: “While many in the survey said that cutting costs was a priority, doing so in the wrong place can severely damage an organisation.” The study, which is ongoing, perhaps unsurprisingly concludes that companies should use technology to design prototypes. I would be surprised if they don’t already do this, but perhaps what they don’t do – and should – is seek input from procurement early on about possible materials, manufacturing processes, supply chain logistics – and of course, the design technology itself. These aspects can all make a massive difference to the cost (and in turn, the profit) that a new product line can bring.
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