Development of a product audit tool
Proceedings of the Institution of mechanical engineers. Part B, journal of engineering manufacture
The creation of new products that satisfy the needs of customers and the company is widely acknowledged as an important contributor to a firm's ongoing success. In principle, the design process, as part of the wider new product development (NPD) process, should result in products that are 'well-designed'. But, what does a well-designed product look like? This paper presents a tool to enable a design team to evaluate their products against a range of criteria, with a view to targeting design
... ovements. This 'product-audit' tool is based on literature and has been iteratively developed using a mixed research approach, including detailed exploratory cases and application in action research mode. Previous assessment tools have tackled a narrow set of product issues, such as usability. This tool addresses the 'whole product' and captures aspects of product design in a concise and usable form. The product audit does not seek to be a benchmarking tool. Aspects such as novelty, desirability, usability and producibility are expanded as simple checklists, to enable perceptions towards product characteristics to be assessed. This novel assessment tool encourages greater consideration of design issues within the wider context of NPD. By focusing attention on the tangible output of the design process -the product -practitioners are better able to understand the way in which design decisions influence product usability, desirability and producibility. Case evidence confirms both the value and originality of this tool.