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Cost Competitive Products: Managing Product
Concept to Marketplace Reality
Phillip R. Witt, Reston Publishing Co., Reston, USA, 1986.
At times, a significantly important book is published which
seems to have very little impact on its intended market.
Cost-Competitive Products is one such book. Since its entry
into the logistics marketplace in 1986, there have been few
academicians or practitioners that even seem to be aware
of its existence. That is indeed unfortunate, because the
book is one of the very few that examines the importance
of logistics in the new product development process.
Written by a long time IBM executive, Phillip R. Witt, the
book draws heavily on the corporate experiences of the
author. It presents a clear, straightforward approach to
utilising logistics effectively in the development, production
and marketing of a new product. The approach presented
by the author is termed "Logistics Early Involvement"
(LEI).
In a relatively modest 254 pages, Witt explains the LEI
process, utilising numerous examples and illustrations. LEI
is defined as:
a structured approach for considering all the areas that influence or
comprise the Logistics Process so that the most efficient process
is developed to support the specific new product requirements. LEI
is a road map for mutually considering, in a participative mode, all
of the decisions affecting logistics, early enough to implement the
Logistics Process for the production period.
Written from a practitioner's perspective, the book is easy
to read, flows logically and consistently from one chapter
to the next," and provides many "how to" insights for
readers. A total of 15 chapters examine such issues as
product goals and strategies (Chapter 3), physical
requirements and design review (Chapter 4), marketing
channels and ordering processing (Chapter 5), supply plan
development (Chapter 7), internal manufacturing process
(Chapter 8), forecasts and schedules (Chapter 10), product
pipelines (Chapter 11), and product release (Chapter 14).
The book is intended to be a general road-map and not
a detailed and exhaustive examination of all the facets of
logistics and new product development. However, it is
specific enough to provide the reader with sufficient
direction and guidance for developing an LEI system within
their own firms.
While the intention of the book is to examine logistics in
new product development, it would have been valuable for
the author to include a chapter or two describing the
extension of LEI to later stages of the product life cycle.
The development process is perhaps the most crucial but,
as products move into later stages of life, logistics plans,
programmes and activities must still be implemented. A
discussion of these efforts and how they would relate to
earlier LEI activities would have been most useful.
The utilisation of LEI can offer firms significant benefits.
As presented by the author, the specific benefits of LEI
include:
(1) Enhancement of the likelihood of planning the most
efficient logistics process for the product.
(2) The risks of major mismatches of design, strategy,
and process are avoided.
(3) The development and introduction of the product
are more rapid and productive.
(4) Costly later revisions of product, strategy, and
process are substantially reduced.
While the above benefits can be difficult to measure and
may be subjective in some instances, the author makes
a convincing argument that inclusion of logistics in the
earliest stages of new product development is one of the
easiest ways to eliminate many of the logistical problems
associated with new product introductions. If the reader
uses the book as nothing more than a checklist for ensuring
that certain logistical activities are included in the new
product development process, then the author will have
been successful in achieving his objectives for the book.
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