Integrated Product Development

Integrated Product Development (IPD) is a framework to help management and active project teams reach innovation goals. Originating in government systems, IPD is a management theory that promotes simultaneous integration of multi-disciplinary teams and concurrent engineering. By utilizing the life cycle concept of development and involving all team members early in the design phases, products are more customer-focused and achieve operability objectives with less rework and waste.

When new product development (NPD) processes are characterized in two dimensions — management philosophy and team structure — IPD is considered an integrated waterfall system. IPD processes, such as systems engineering, rely heavily on documentation and formal reviews. These gateways must be passed before a project can move to the next phase. Thus, IPD systems are typical examples of waterfall processes.

On the other hand, because IPD processes take advantage of cross-functional teams, they are characterized by integrated team structures. Team members from purchasing, maintenance, and other services participate in early design phases alongside the R&D, development, engineering, and marketing departments.

There are eleven principles supporting IPD.

#1 — Understand Customer Needs

As in any product or process development system that is successful, customer needs must be determined upfront. Most IPD processes, like systems engineering and project management, place emphasis on gathering complete customer requirements early in the development effort. Customer requirements include desired functionality and quality.

#2 — Plan and Manage the Product Development Effort

Planning any product development project should address overall, long-term strategic goals. IPD adds a focus to the specific business and innovation plans as well as longer range technology acquisition and development.

#3 — Use Integrated Teams

It should be apparent that in a rapid development environment that cross-functional teams better serve project efficiency. Manufacturing and maintenance participation during development of product specifications can smooth the transition to production and facilitate quality implementation. Empowered project teams will take ownership of the product goals, resulting in a more successful commercialization.

#4 — Integrated Process Design

As indicated, manufacturing, purchasing, and customer service personnel should be involved with product design. Excluding support disciplines when setting requirements and design specifications can reduce the product’s performance and result in costly delays. Worse yet, problems encountered post-launch are more difficult to resolve if the support staff is unfamiliar with the product. By integrating all disciplines in the design effort, product performance is optimized over its life cycle.

#5 — Manage Cost from the Beginning

An additional advantage of using integrated teams (principle #3) and integrated process design (principle #4) is that a product’s life cycle cost is more accurate. Target new product costs should be set early in the requirements phase and the project should be managed within this constraint. Early phase design changes are less expensive and effective planning can help to manage non-recurring development expenses.

#6 — Involve Stakeholders Early

Products are not commercialized without external project participants. IPD stresses that by involving vendors, suppliers, distributors, and other stakeholders early in the design process can reduce cost and development schedules. Understanding vendor limitations and capabilities enhances the team’s ability to predict cost and time-to-market.

#7 — Develop Robust Designs

One of the reasons an IPD system is successful in product development is that the process drives toward optimized and robust designs. Many tools are available for the teams, such as design of experiments, failure mode and effects analysis, and lessons learned reviews. Risk in product development is minimized by applying knowledge from past experiences and by tapping into the broad backgrounds of the cross-functional team members.

#8 — Integrated CAD/CAM Tools

Today much of product development and design can be done digitally. These tools, like computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacture (CAM), should be utilized fully in cross-functional product development efforts. IPD systems emphasize modeling not only for the product but also for construction, manufacturing, engineering, and maintenance. Computer-aided design tools can streamline development processes.

#9 — Simulate the Product Performance and Manufacturing

Building on the use of computer-aided engineering tools (principle #8), IPD processes utilize simulation for quality control and performance validation. Checking for variations in digital mock-ups can save cost in construction and maintenance. Today, 3D printing models are relatively inexpensive to produce and can help to validate product and operational variables early in the design process as well as to garner customer feedback.

#10 — Create an Efficient Development Approach

One rule of project management teaches us that as the number of team members grows, the number of communication channels can nearly double. Efficient development teams should be limited to the required number of participants to make decisions. Policies, procedures, and paperwork ought to be minimized for the team to focus on the product development goals. Empowered teams (principle #3) can reach higher performance levels when unencumbered by bureaucracy.

#11 — Continuously Improve the Design Process

IPD systems encourage improvement by re-engineering the design process to eliminate activities that do not add value. Benchmarking other NPD processes and industry participants sets objective goals for life cycle development and time-to-market standards. Team members should be trained in innovation and these IPD principles to recognize waste and opportunities for improvement.

IPD Principles

The goal of IPD is to minimize later stage design changes, reduce project risks, and keep costs low. By incorporating these 11 principles into an IPD process, a company can realize the benefits of full life cycle design alongside the efficiency of multi-disciplinary teams.

To learn more about innovation processes, please check out self-study and other NPDP Workshops. Feel free to contact me at or 281–280–8717. At where we want to help you gain and maintain your professional certifications. You can study, learn, and earn — it’s simple!

Reading Recommendation

One of my favorite new books on innovation is The Power of Little Ideas by David C. Robertson and Kent Lineback. Another good book focusing on customer perspectives is Strategy from the Outside In by George Day and Christine Moorman. We also discuss application of strategy via disruptive innovation in NPDP Certification Prep: A 24-Hour Study Guide, and you can find additional references at

Study. Learn. Earn. Simple.


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I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. My passion is innovation and helping others improve their new product development ecosystems.