Platform-Driven Development of Product Families: Linking Theory with Practice


Halman, Johannes I.M. and Hofer, Adrian P. and Vuren, Wim van (2003) Platform-Driven Development of Product Families: Linking Theory with Practice. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 20 (2). pp. 149-162. ISSN 0737-6782

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Abstract:Firms in many industries increasingly are considering platform-based approaches to reduce complexity and to better leverage investments in new product development, manufacturing, and marketing. However, a clear gap in literature still exists when it comes to discussing the problems and risks related to implementing and managing product families and their underlying platforms. Using a multiple-case approach, we compare three technology-driven companies in their definition of platform-based product families, investigate their reasons for changing to platform-driven development, and analyze how they implemented platform thinking in their development process and which risks they encountered in the process of creating and managing platform-based product families. The field study shows that the companies involved in the study use a homogeneous concept of platform-based product families and that they have similar reasons to turn to platform thinking and to encounter comparable risks. However, the companies analyzed use mainly product architecture as a basis for their platforms (and ignore many of the platform types advocated in literature), while on the other hand they show divergent applications of the platform concept regarding the combinations of product families and market applications. Through this exploratory study, some important white spots in literature became evident as well. In the discussion part of this article these white spots are discussed and directions for future platform research are proposed. The article concludes that given its importance, platform-driven development of product families clearly deserves further research to provide more insight into strategic planning for new products.
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Copyright:© 2003, Blackwell Publishing Ltd
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