In today’s technology-intensive manufacturing sector, new product development often includes technology development, rendering technology an integral part of the firm’s strategic outlook. While a great deal of planning and decision making goes on among senior managers concerning the products and markets the firm will invest in to maintain its competitive advantage, many additional decisions reside at the product development level regarding the manufacture of those products.
Manufacturing process technologies can represent a critical investment of development resources, a challenge to existing process capabilities, and/or a significant reduction in production costs. Decisions about adopting new technologies can therefore have strong competitive consequences,
especially if they involve the choice between techniques that trade off cost, schedule, and performance. With market share and company profits at stake, these decisions require input as to the organization’s strategic goals. And yet, since the senior executives who typically formulate strategy are organizationally removed from the engineers and low-level managers who grapple with
the day-to-day details of product development, effective communication between these two groups may be a challenge.