Within the manufacturing world, product planning teams are chartered to define new products to meet customer and market needs. These products are often made up of countless individual feature sets, packages, and options, adding to the complexity of products. There is a strong need for decision analytics to help inform decisions, reduce complexity, and increase speed to market.
A product planner's goal is to define a product that customers and the market demand, that engineering can design, and that manufacturing can produce. There is a new way of analyzing a product's definition across an entire product line, offering data visualizations to help planners make informed decisions like never before. We refer to this as product decision analytics.
What are product decision analytics?
Imagine if you could ask product feature questions against all the possible feature scenarios of a product you are planning and instantly gain insights that help you make better decisions.
We have developed the first tool on the market to deliver this kind of instantaneous information. We empower product planners to spend more time contemplating options, and less time sifting through incredible amounts of raw data.
There are two aspects to this process. 1) Data is calculated based on the project variants entered 2) Visualization of the data is automated for planners to contemplate and manipulate for further discovery.
There are four key decision analytics and visualizations we can deliver.
- Specification Reports - Allows planners to consider a range of numerical elements, such as weight or cost, from lowest to the highest value.
- Product Walk - Allows planners to consider the capabilities of products or product features in a product line.
- Scoring - Allows planners to weigh variants based on set criteria.
- Buildable Combinations - Allows planners to aggregate product data to reveal how many possible buildable combinations exist based on the number of specifications and features.
So how exactly do these analytics help product planners make good decisions?
Spec reports compare the specifications of the different product offerings being considered. It's the range of roll-up calculation of numerical attributes of the features across all buildable variants of a product. You can use this to look at products within a product line to analyze and validate variables such as cost, weight, horsepower, decibels of a sound system, etc. across your product line.
For example, the BMW 3-series is a product line with multiple products (i, i with xDrive, etc.). With a spec report, you can look across products within a product line and see the range of specific variables (eg, horsepower or weight.). You can further drill down and see sample variant content that makes up the product's lowest and highest value for that specification. In this example, you can see the BMW i configuration with the least and highest horsepower or weight.
Below is an example of a snapshot-view specification report based on cost. These types of quick-view analytics help product planners efficiently weigh what's possible with customer and market demands.
Product walks let planners play with product data to see how products in a product line change from one product to the other. This feature helps explain the difference between each product in a product line. Using a good product decision analytics platform can see this process automated. Changes to product, package, and feature rules can be automatically reflected in the product walk.
Scoring products and product features is incredibly powerful, particularly with hard goods that have many features. For example, if you're building a camera, you will have different product versions based on lens types, with different focal lengths, pixels, and screen options. Being able to weigh your options makes decision making manageable. And scoring can include scoring against competitor products and product features. So if you work for Canon, you can compare a camera you are developing to a particular Nikon model.
Below is a sample of a scoring module, where presets and standard features are being weighed against other variants, with higher scoring indicating the likelihood that the product will perform well on the market. The product score is a number between 0 and 10, with 10 showing that you meet or exceed all your specification targets, while a score closer to 0 shows that you are far from meeting the set objectives.
For example, you may have targets which state that your product has to cost no more than 2,000 USD, have a range of 200-miles, be a maximum weight of 900 lbs., and maintain a minimum horsepower of 250. The product score considers all possible variants and provides a single weighted score that shows how far the product is from meeting all the above targets
The scoring removes planners from having to sort through siloed data and trying to weigh hundreds of variants manually. A robust platform can seamlessly perform this task and create a quick overview for planners to assess market fit.
A large part of product manufacturing is taming complexity. Too many product features can quickly create a bloated number of buildable combinations that will not all sell equally well.
Project Manager Jon M Quigley, who has worked in product development for nearly 30 years, says:
"Some of the things we can learn about reducing complexity is to learn as much as we can about the product, as quickly as we can, without spending a lot of time thinking about complex things to do that well."
The scale of the situation can be seen in the graph below. Every feature introduced brings with it an exponential (really, a factorial) amount of buildable combinations. Simplifying the complexity is smarter, more effective product planning.
Limiting complexity also saves on production costs and allows for more process standardization across product lines.
A Fast & Reliable Platform
The Gocious product decision-analytic platform quickly and easily produces insights you can use to create successful market products. Simply input variables, set targets, and identify how product features score. You can then run different scenarios to find the optimal mix of features for end customers.
Gocious enables quick what-if (product walk) scenarios, with variants easily adjusted, removed, or added, revealing instant recalculations on spec reports, scoring, and buildable combinations.
From cars to smartphones, we help organizations and teams decide with certainty which product features matter most to customers within the business and marketplace constraints. To learn more about how we help product planners, please visit our product page.
To learn more about reducing complexity and financial waste in product manufacturing, please see our new eBook below.