Inderscience Publishers

Accelerating the fuzzy front-end of NPD projects: methods and management

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In rapidly changing competitive conditions, firms competing on the basis of their new products need to be proficient in accelerating their product development programmes. Several research studies have suggested that the entire NPD process can be improved. In this paper, however, we focus on the 'upfront' or 'fuzzy front-end' (FFE) phase. We review several studies which reveal useful insights into speeding the FFE. Next, we examine the benefits of accelerating the FFE as well as the challenges encountered. We then advance several approaches for speeding the FFE. If firms excel in managing and accelerating their FFE activities, it offers firms the opportunity to more rapidly develop and commercialise their new products. A major goal of our paper is to examine the importance of streamlining the FFE as well as to suggest various methods for accelerating this critical phase of the innovation process.

Keywords: fuzzy front-end, internal FFE, external FFE, speed of development, first-mover advantages, fuzziness level, fuzzy curves, FFE competency, approval gap, NPD, new product development, product innovation

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