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Case Study:  Business Process Improvement

This Case Study illustrates how Gagnon Associates used its Business Process Improvement capability to optimize a client’s new-product development process:

The Company

A formerly high-flying, enviably profitable surgical products division of a major health care company.  Makers of state-of-the-art, reusable and disposable devices for the rapidly-growing, least-invasive surgery market.

The Problem

Declining profits due to increased costs associated with a lack of discipline and lack of customer focus in screening new product ideas, initiating new-product development projects and managing the new-product life cycle in the post-introduction phase.

The Approach

Management enlists Gagnon Associates consulting support to lead the effort to:  a) assess new-product screening, new-product development, and post-product introduction processes and related issues, and b) reengineer these interrelated processes for improved efficiency/effectiveness.

Four “boundaryless,” client teams are created, including representatives from finance, R&D, marketing, sales, purchasing and other functions.  Three teams focus on one each of three previously mentioned processes.  The fourth team analyzes a recent unsatisfactory surgical pump introduction for additional insights into deficiencies in the new-product introduction process.

Over three days of an intense, highly-interactive, four-day intervention, teams work both independently and in close coordination, as needed, to:  a) define existing process deficiencies, b) reengineer processes, and c) address key process interrelationships.  Throughout, Gagnon Associates catalyzes and facilitates the process by providing online, work-group leadership as well as “just-in-time” training and coaching on underlying process reengineering tools and techniques.

The Results

Teams completely reengineer new-product screening and new-product development processes and develop a more formal process for managing the post-introduction phases of the product life-cycle.  On the fourth day of the engagement, the division’s management team reviews and approves the newly reengineered processes in an interactive forum, attended by all team members and moderated by Gagnon Associates consulting staff.

Management is so pleased with the newly redesigned processes that it commits to testing approximately 120 new product development projects currently in the pipeline against the new model and estimates that, as a result, some 40 to 50 resource-draining projects of questionable value to the customer will be eliminated.