The purpose of this activity is to define the direction of the project, to understand the market that the project targets and to plan for gathering needs from customers within that market. Effective new product development requires an understanding of the market that the product is targeting. This includes specifying who the customer is, uncovering the demographics of the market and analyzing the competition. It also requires an in-depth understanding of the context. For example, for a medical device it requires understanding the disease state that is related to the product and how the disease is currently. In addition, product development requires understanding customer needs through observations and interviews of the intended users.
In the Ulrich and
Eppinger text, read Chapter 4 (Product Planning) and Chapter 5 (Identifying
Customer Needs).In Chapter 4 there is an overview of pre-project planning (see Step 4).
2. An in-class presentation followed by discussion.Email (PDF format) to your company contact and to your faculty mentor. Upload (PDF) to the course Moodle site. Only one member of the team has to upload to Moodle.
Your report can be in the form of a PowerPoint slide deck (meant for reading, not presentation) or in the form of a more traditional report. As for length, your report should be content rich, keeping in mind that nobody wants to write or read a long report. Because you are graduate students, it is expected that your writing will communicate your ideas and be free of mechanical errors.
Title Page -- Include a title page that has title, authors, date, the company logo (if any), UMN logo, and an indication that the document is confidential. Include page numbers.
1. Project Overview – Include a brief description of the product and its intended benefits, and a brief description of the business goals of the project. For this, see the section on Mission Statements in Chapter 4 of the U&E text.
2. Project Background – Include a concise tutorial on the context of the project. For example, if the project is a medical device, provide a description of the disease state, epidemiology data for the disease and a description of current treatment options and procedures for managing the disease state. As appropriate, include references to key review articles in the academic literature or key reports and tutorials from government sources. Graphics and tables are useful for presenting complex information.
3. Market Analysis – Describe the primary and secondary markets (see U&E text on mission statements). Present numbers on the approximate size of the market segments, citing credible sources. State who the primary user of your future product will be (can have more than one). Be specific. “Interventional cardiologist” is specific, “doctor” is not. “Male college students in the U.S.” is specific, “student” is not. Justify why it makes sense to target this user(s).
4. Competitors – Identify the major players targeting the same problem. Identify competing products, both direct and indirect competition.
5. Plan for Identifying Customer Needs – In this section present your plan for identifying customer needs. The plan result from considering the Kimmel lecture and handouts on discovering customer needs as well as Chapter 5 (Identifying Customer Needs) of the textbook. Your customer needs research plan should contain (1) the objective of your needs finding exercise, (2) which user, stakeholder and decision maker categories you plan to interview or observe and why, (3) how many people you will interview or observe in each category and the date by which those interviews will be completed, (4) how you will find the interviewees (be specific) (5) the research objective(s) for your interviews or observations, and (6) how the interview and observation data will be analyzed and presented. Items 1-6 should be about two pages in length. In an appendix to the report, include the interviewer guide that includes the interview questions (see Kimmel lecture and handout).
In class, your team will present the highlights of your report. Length is 10 minutes (no more), followed by 5 minutes of questions.