Hybrid Development : Composing a Product Development Process for an R&D Company
Törnroos, Kenneth (2019)
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The case company is small-sized company operating in the Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) industry. The company has been growing for some time and has also recently moved into a new market segment with semiconductor manufacturing customers. The growth and the new market have caused the product assortment to increase. This progress has created a need for a documented development process. Thus, this study was initiated to create a process for developing the existing product assortment in the case company. This study utilizes Design research as its research approach. In Design research, the researcher is an active participant. The purpose of the approach is to not only understand a phenomenon, but also to influence it and create a change. With the objective of the thesis for creating a process, the Design Research method is viewed as a suitable approach. The study started with creating a conceptual framework as a tool based on selected elements from relevant literature onto which the current state analysis was reflected upon. The current state analysis was performed by collecting data through interviews with targeted company stakeholders and from company quality documents. After mapping out the current state, the study set forth to co-create an initial proposal for the proposes for developing existing products through workshops with the company stakeholders. The initial proposal was validated by the company management and revised based on the management comments. The outcome was a final proposal to achieve the objective of this study. The final proposal for developing existing products borrows its shape from two major development methods – the Stage Gate method and the Agile method. The result is a hybrid process also known as an Agile-Stage Gate method. The core element in this process is a linear stage-gate consisting of an upper-level design stage, a detail-level design stage and ending with a test stage. The stages are performed sprinting with issues collected from a Product Backlog. The process for developing existing products created by this study was approved by the management and the study succeeded in demonstrating that the method can be used in other company development processes as well. The Product Backlog introduced by this study has already been taken into use by the company.