UK: Awards and Conferences - Product development to get the recognition it deserves.

UK: Awards and Conferences - Product development to get the recognition it deserves. - Management Today announces the launch of the Awards for Excellence in New Product Development.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Management Today announces the launch of the Awards for Excellence in New Product Development.

British companies have long been coming up with spectacular new products and these may well have earned their originators an award or two for, say, services to exports. But, as yet, they have not been celebrated for excellence in the product development process. The reason? Perhaps surprisingly, until now, there has been no such award. But all this is about to change.

Management Today is pleased to announce the launch of a new award to recognise product development. The scheme, called the Awards for Excellence in New Product Development, will be run in association with the Design Council and administered by the Judge Institute of Management Studies at the University of Cambridge.

A showcase for the best

Why do we need such an awards scheme? Well, as Margaret Beckett, president of the Board of Trade, explains: 'By harnessing our native strengths in innovation, creativity and design, Britain can enter the new century confident in our ability to compete in the global marketplace. These awards will showcase the best companies and help others to profit from their experience.'

She is absolutely right: the development of new products is crucial to the current and future health of the economy but, because new product development is so fraught with pressures and often quite nebulous in its nature, there are many British companies that do not manage it as effectively as they might.

It is worth pointing out, however, that when people think of new products, they generally think of hi-tech gizmos or swish consumer durables such as Dyson's vacuum cleaner. In fact, the remit of the awards scheme is far broader than this. Indeed, as Nick Oliver, reader in man-agement studies at the Judge Institute, says: 'Entries are invited from all companies in the UK who develop and manu-facture products.' The only stipulation here is that a significant amount of the development activity must occur in the UK (although manufacturing may take place overseas).

Entries are being sought from a broad range of industries.

These will include, but certainly are not limited to, electronics, engineering, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food and drink, textiles and household products. The scheme will address consumer and industrial products.

In fact, the only area not covered at the moment says Oliver is 'service products', though plans are afoot to introduce a Service Development Award in the future. Each entry should cover a project that relates to a specific, recently launched product and multiple entries from the same company are permitted.

Like Management Today's other award schemes, the Best Factory Awards and the Service Excellence Awards, winning is certainly a good reason to enter, but it is by no means the only one. Entrants will complete a searching self-evaluation questionnaire.

From these, a shortlist will be drawn up. A team of judges will then visit each of the shortlisted entrants. Finally, the winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony.

Whether they win or not, every entrant will receive a comprehensive feedback report from the Judge Institute of Management Studies, free of charge, benchmarking them against their (anonymous) peer group. As part of the preparation for the scheme, the University of Cambridge has undertaken two studies to develop protocols to assess design and development performance and practice, and a third is currently under way.

Philips Consumer Communi-cations took part in one of these. 'Every company which depends on the development of new products is trying to improve its development process,' comments development manager for Philips Paging Robert Bates. 'It is essential that you know how you are performing compared to your competitors, in order both to drive and prioritise your process improvement initiatives.

'In my experience,' he continues, 'it is also extremely beneficial to see how non-competitive businesses are handling the various processes of product development, since this can often enable you to challenge the ways of working that have become established in your own business.'

A third prestigious award

Building on these studies, The Management Today/Design Council product development scheme is being launched this month, which means that, along with the Best Factory Awards and the Service Excellence Awards, Management Today can now offer British business three sets of prestigious awards.

The Awards for Excellence in New Product Development will provide a unique opportunity for companies to gauge their product development and practice against a range of benchmarks. And, like the other schemes, this one will also provide the opportunity for a unique database to be constructed, which will enable product development performance and practice among UK companies to be tracked in the future.

To obtain further details of the Excellence in Product Development Award scheme, please contact Nick Oliver at the Judge Institute of Management Studies, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AG Tel: 01223 339605 Fax: 01223 339701.

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