Globalizing Product Development

A leading provider of welding equipment was experiencing significant structural changes in its markets -- the industry was becoming global in nature, cost pressures were mounting, and new innovators were emerging. The company still operated on a regional basis with multiple and parallel product development efforts, and was unable to provide new product leadership or support on a global basis.

In collaboration with the client, Analysis Group began with a diagnosis that identified the current regional processes for selecting and developing new products as well as the actual differences between the regional products. In the next step, strategy clarification, we looked at how the company was currently competing and how this needed to change going forward. What were the driving forces in the emerging marketplace, and how could the company best leverage its strengths to maintain its leadership?

Finally, in a significant change-management initiative, we recommended that the senior management of the company work together as a team to lead their respective regions to the optimal decisions from a global perspective.

Analysis Group found that perceived differences in products across regions were driven by a lack of common language and understanding rather than by real differences in customer needs or product design and performance. This discovery enabled senior management to agree on which product components would become global platforms and which would remain as regional derivatives. Furthermore, our consulting team provided the client with a single decision-making process with explicit roles and responsibilities, as well as a simple tool set, to help the company manage product development globally. We helped the client to compete more effectively in a global marketplace, and we helped a pilot global team meet an aggressive 50% cost reduction in cycle time.