Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Decision-aiding tools in innovative product development contexts


The complexity and uncertainty that exist in New Product Development (NPD) processes require a comprehensive approach to deal with a problem that involves people, technology and organisations. An effective approach should integrate tools that facilitate communication, the interpretation of different individual visions and collective problem structuring with tools that analytically study the process activities of NPD. This paper presents the results of a study that began from an observation of the phenomena involved in an NPD process and from the analysis of some tools from different domains (Product Lifecycle Management, Management Science/Operation Research, and Knowledge Management). The analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of the tools suggested a general framework, the Hybrid Approach, for the systematic integration of tools, from different perspectives, where typological decision-aiding situations are recognised and modelled and where context and communication in design are considered.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. 1.

    The term “Development” thus represents not only a basilar decision process but also a CoA as described in Sect. 2. In the first case, the activity owner is the problem owner; in the other case, the activity owner is the analyst. For example, when development represents the decision process, this means that the problem owner must construct solutions but has clear objectives. In that case, the analyst can help him by completely developing in his place (Dev CoA) or only by verifying the link between objectives and solutions (Contr CoA).


  1. Adler PS (1995) Interdepartmental interdependence and coordination: the case of the design/manufacturing interface. Organiz Sci 6(2):147–167

  2. Adler PS, Mandelbaum A, Nguyen V, Schwerer E (1995) From project to process management: an empirically-based framework for analyzing product development time. Manag Sci 41(3):458–484

  3. Allen TJ (1977) Managing the flow of technology. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA

  4. Archer LB (1984) Systematic method for designers. In: Cross N (ed) Developments in design methodology. Wiley, Chichester

  5. Baxter D, Gao J, Case K, Harding JA, Young RI, Cochrane SD, Dani S (2007) An engineering design knowledge reuse methodology using process modelling. Res Eng Design 18(1):37–48

  6. Birkhofer H (2008) Tidy up design methods—an approach using elementary design methods, In: Marjanovic D (ed) Proceedings of the 10th international design conference—DESIGN, Dubrovnik, Croatia, pp 1–8

  7. Birkhofer H, Kloberdanz H, Berger B, Sauer T (2002) Cleaning up design methods: describing methods completely and standardised. In: Marjanovic D (ed) Proceedings of the 7th international design conference—DESIGN. Dubrovnik, Croatia, pp 17–22

  8. Boland RJ (1978) The process and product of system design. Manag Sci 24(9):887–898

  9. Boland JR, Tenkasi RV (1995) Perspective making and perspective taking in communities of knowing. Organiz Sci 6(4):350–372

  10. Brown SL, Eisenhardt KM (1995) Product development: past research, present findings, and future directions. Acad Manag Rev 20(2):343–378

  11. Büyüközkan G, Feyzioğlu O (2004) A fuzzy-logic-based decision-making approach for new product development. Int J Prod Econ 90:27–45

  12. Cannon-Bowers JA, Salas E, Converse SA (1993) Shared mental models in expert team decision making. In: Castellan NJ Jr (ed) Individual and group decision making. LEA, Hillsdale

  13. Chekland P (1981) Systems thinking, systems practice. Wiley, Chichester

  14. Chen J, Reilly RR, Lynn GS (2005) The impacts of speed-to-market on new product success: the moderating effects of uncertainty. IEEE Trans Eng Manag 52(2):199–212

  15. Christensen CM, Rosenbloom R (1995) Explaining the attacker’s advantage: technological paradigms, organisational dynamics and the value network. Res Policy 24:233–257

  16. Clark KB, Fujimoto T (1991) Product development performance. Harvard Business School Press, Boston

  17. Clausing D (1994) Total quality development: a step by step guide to world class concurrent engineering. ASME Press, New York

  18. Coates G, Hills W, Whitfield RI, Duffy A (1993) Design coordination for enabling concurrent engineering. J Eng Des 4(4):251–265

  19. Cooper RG, Edgett S, Kleinschmidt E (2001) Portfolio management for new product development: results of an industry practices study”. R&D Manag 31(4):361–380

  20. Corning PA (1998) Complexity is just a word. Technol Forecas Soc Change 59:197–200

  21. Costa CA, Young RIM (2001) Product range models supporting design knowledge reuse. Proc Inst Mech Eng Part B J Eng Manuf 215(3):323–337

  22. Cover TM, Thomas JA (2006) Elements of information theory. Wiley, New York

  23. Cross N, Roozemburg N (1992) Modelling the design process in engineering and in architecture. J Eng Des 3(4):325–337

  24. Dahan E, Hauser JR (2001) Product development: managing a dispersed process. In: Weitz B, Wensley R (eds) Handbook of marketing. Sage Publications, New York

  25. Dey A, Kokinov B, Leake D, Turner R (2005) Modelling and using context, LNAI 3554. Springer Verlag, Berlin

  26. Duffy AHB, Duffy SM, Andreasen MM (1995) Using design complexities in validating the design coordination framework. Proceedings of the joint final conference of ESPRIT working groups CIMMOD and CIMDEV—cooperation in manufacturing: CIM at work conference, Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands, pp 16–40

  27. Durfee EH, Lesser VR, Corkill DD (1989) Cooperative distributed problem solving. In: Barr A, Cohen PR, Feigenbaum EA (eds) The handbook of artificial intelligence. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co, Readings

  28. Eppinger SD (1991) Model-based approaches to managing concurrent engineering. J Eng Des 2(4):283–290

  29. Eppinger SD, Whitney DE, Smith RP, Gebala DA (1994) A model-based method for organizing tasks in product development. Res Eng Design 6(1):1–13

  30. Ettlie JE (1995) Product-process development integration in manufacturing. Manage Sci 41(7):1224–1237

  31. Finger S, Subrahmanian E, Gardner E (1993) A case study in concurrent engineering for transformer design. In: Rosenburg NFM (ed) Proceedings of ICED-93. Heurista Zurich, Switzerland, pp 1433–1440

  32. Friend J (1989) The strategic choice approach. In: Rosenhead J (ed) Rational analysis for a problematic world: problem structuring methods for complexity, uncertainty and conflict. Wiley, Chichester, pp 121–157

  33. Fung RYK, Tang J, Tu PY, Chen Y (2003) Modelling of quality function deployment planning with resource allocation. Res Eng Design 14(4):247–255

  34. Galbraith JR (1977) Organization design. Addison-Wesley, Reading

  35. Goldenberg J, Mazursky D, Solomon S (1999a) Toward identifying the inventive templates of new products: a channeled ideation approach. J Mark Res 36:200–210

  36. Goldenberg J, Mazursky D, Solomon S (1999b) Templates of original innovation: projecting original incremental innovations from intrinsic information. Technol Forecas Soc Change 61:1–12

  37. Griffin AJ, Hauser JR (1993) The voice of the customer. Mark Sci 12(1):1–27

  38. Griffin AJ, Hauser JR (1996) Integrating mechanisms for marketing and R&D. J Prod Innov Manage 13(3):191–215

  39. Gutman J (1982) A means-end chain model based on consumer categorization processes. J Mark 46(2):60–72

  40. Hari A, Weiss MP, Zonnenshain A (2004) ICDM—an integrated methodology for the conceptual design of new systems, Proceeding of system engineering/test and evaluation conference, SETE 2004. Adelaide, Australia

  41. Hatchuel A, Weil B (2009) C-K design theory: an advanced formulation. Res Eng Design 19:181–192

  42. Hauser JR, Shugan SM (1983) Defensive marketing strategy. Mark Sci 2(4):319–360

  43. Helfat CE, Raubitschek RS (2000) Product sequencing: co-evolution of knowledge, capabilities and products. Strateg Manag J 21:961–979

  44. Henderson RM, Clark KB (1990) Architectural innovation: the reconfiguration of existing product technologies and the failure of established firms. Adm Sci Q 35(1):9–31

  45. Holtzblatt K, Beyer H (1993) Making customer-centered design work for teams. Commun ACM 36(10):93–103

  46. Hunt FH, Mitchell R, Phaal R, Probert DR (2004) Early valuation of technology: real options, hybrid models and beyond”. J Instrum Control Eng 43(10):730–735

  47. Jones JC (1970) Design methods. Wiley, London

  48. Kolmogorov A (1965) Three approaches to the quantitative definition of information. Probl Inf Transm 1:1–17

  49. Konda S, Monarch I, Sargent P, Subrahmanian E (1992) Shared memory in design: a unifying theme for research and practice. Res Eng Design 4(1):23–42

  50. Kontio J, Lehtola L, Bragge J (2004) Using the focus group method in software engineering: obtaining practitioner and user experiences. In proceedings of the ACM-IEEE international symposium on empirical software engineering (ISESE 2004). Redondo Beach, CA

  51. Krishnan V, Ulrich KT (2001) Product development decisions: a review of the literature. Manage Sci 47(1):1–21

  52. Legardeur J, Boujut JF, Tiger H (2010) Lessons learned from an empirical study of the early design phases of an unfulfilled innovation. Res Eng Design 21(4):249–262

  53. Lewin R (1994) A simple matter of complexity: does life have to become more. New Sci 1911:37–41

  54. Lindemann U (2005) Methodische Entwicklung technischer Produkte. Springer Verlag, Berlin

  55. Loch CH, Terwiesch C, Thomke S (2001) Parallel and sequential testing of design alternatives. Manag Sci 47(5):663–678

  56. Lynn GS, Akgun AE (1998) Innovation strategies under uncertainty: a contingency approach for new product development. Eng Manag J 10(3):11–17

  57. Madhusudan T (2005) An agent-based approach for coordinating product design workflows. Comput Ind 56(3):235–259

  58. Majchrzak A, Cooper LP, Neece OE (2004) Knowledge reuse for innovation. Manag Sci 50(2):174–188

  59. Marples DL (1961) The decisions of engineering design. IRE Trans Eng Manag EM-8(2):55–71

  60. McDonough EF III, Barczak G (1992) The effects of cognitive problem solving orientation and technological familiarity on faster new product development. J Prod Innov Manag 9:44–52

  61. Meyer MH, Utterback JM (1995) Product development cycle time and commercial success. IEEE Trans Eng Manag 42(4):297–304

  62. Mintzberg H, Raisinghani D, Theoret A (1976) The structure of the unstructured decision process. Adm Sci Q 21(2):246–276

  63. Mizuno S (1988) Management for quality improvement: the 7 new QC tools. Productivity Press, Cambridge

  64. Montagna F (2007) Managing a dispersed process: decision aiding and knowledge management tools in innovative NPD contexts, PhD thesis, Politecnico di Torino

  65. Montagna F, Norese MF (2008) A hybrid approach to model design and development processes and evaluate innovation opportunities. Int J Manuf Technol Manag 14(3–4):379–396

  66. Montagna F, Vittone R (2008) Decision aiding tools in product development: a case study, Design 2008 conference. Dubrovnik, Croatia

  67. Nonaka I, Takeuchi H (1995) The knowledge creating company: how Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation. Oxford University Press, New York

  68. Norese MF, Montagna F (2008) An application of MACRAME to support a multiunit project, IEEE international engineering management conference. Estoril, Portugal

  69. Norese MF, Ostanello A (1988) Decision aid process typologies and operational tools. In: Ricerca operativa e intelligenza artificiale. Proceedings of the AIRO ‘88 Meeting, Pisa, Italy, pp 661–680

  70. Norese MF, Montagna F, Riva S (2007) A multicriteria approach to support the design of complex systems, 66th meeting of the EURO working group on multicriteria decision aiding (MCDA66), Marrakech, Morocco

  71. Parasuraman A, Zeithaml VA, Berry LL (1985) A Conceptual model of service quality and its implications for future research. J Mark 49(4):41–50

  72. Parasuraman A, Zeithaml VA, Berry LL (1988) SERVQUAL: a multiple-item scale for measuring customer perceptions of service quality. J Retail 64:12–40

  73. Popovic V (2004) Expertise development in product design-strategic and domain-specific knowledge connections”. Des Stud 25(5):527–545

  74. Presley A, Sarkis J, Liles DH (2000) A soft-systems methodology approach for product and process innovation. IEEE Trans Eng Manag 47(3):379–391

  75. Pringle LG, Wilson RD, Brody EI (1982) A decision-oriented model for new product analysis and forecasting. Mark Sci 1(1):1–29

  76. Pugh S (1990) Total design. Addison-Wesley, Reading

  77. Rashid MM, Ismail HS (2007) Generic tool for measuring the reliability of product development processes. J Model Manag 2(1):71–93

  78. Reich Y (2010) Editorial: my method is better!. Res Eng Design 21(3):137–142

  79. Reich Y, Levy E (2004) Managing product design quality under resource constraints. Int J Prod Res 42(13):2555–2572

  80. Reich Y, Subrahmanian E, Cunningham D, Dutoit A, Konda S, Patrick R, Westerberg A, The n-dim group (1999) Building agility for developing agile design information systems. Res Eng Design 11(2):67–83

  81. Rokeach M (1973) The nature of human values. Free Press, New York

  82. Rosenhead J (1989) Rational analysis for a problematic world: problem structuring methods for complexity, uncertainty and conflict. Wiley, Chichester

  83. Roy B (1996) Multicriteria methodology for decision aiding. Kluwer, Dordrecht

  84. Saaty TL (1980) The analytic hierarchy process: planning, priority setting, resource allocation. McGraw-Hill International Book Co, New York

  85. Sanchez R (1996) Strategic product creation: managing new interactions of technology, markets, and organizations. Eur Managt J 14(2):121–138

  86. Schilling MA (2005) Strategic management of technological innovation. McGraw Hill, Boston

  87. Schvaneveldt SJ, Enkawa T, Miyakawa M (1991) Consumer evaluation perspectives of service quality: evaluation factors and two-way model of quality. Total Qual Manag Bus Excell 2(2):149–162

  88. Sharma A (2005) Collaborative product innovation: integrating elements of CPI via PLM framework”. Comput Aided Design 37(13):1425–1434

  89. Shenfiels A, Fleming PJ (2005) A service oriented architecture for decision making in engineering design. Congrès advances in grid computing, European grid conference, Amsterdam, February, 3470, pp 334–343

  90. Souder WE, Song XM (1998) Analysis of US and Japanese management processes associated with new product success and failure in high and low familiarity markets. J Prod Innov Manag 15:208–223

  91. Steward DV (1981) The design structure system: a method for managing the design of complex systems. IEEE Trans Eng Manag EM-28(3):71–74

  92. Subrahmanian E, Konda SL, Levy SN, Reich Y, Westerberg AW, Monarch IA (1993) Equation aren’t enough: informal modeling in design. Artif Intell Eng Design Anal Manuf 7(4):257–274

  93. Subrahmanian E, Monarch I, Konda S, Granger H, Milliken R, Westerberg A, The n-Dim Group (2003) Boundary objects and prototypes at the interfaces of engineering design. Comput Support Cooper Work 12:185–203

  94. Suh NP (1999) A Theory of complexity, periodicity, and design axioms. Res Eng Design 11:116–131

  95. Tatikonda MV, Rosenthal SR (2000) Technology novelty, project complexity, and product development project execution success: a deeper look at task uncertainty in product innovation. IEEE Trans Eng Manag 47(1):74–87

  96. Thomas RJ (1993) New product development. John Wiley, New York

  97. Thomson A, Kumar B, Chase S, Duffy A (2005) Measuring complexity in a design environment. In: Johnson J, Zamenopoulos T, Alexiou K (eds) Proceedings of the ECCS 2005 satellite workshop: embracing complexity in design, Paris, France, pp 67–75

  98. Tiwana A, Ramesh B (2001) A design knowlegde management system to support collaborative information product evolution. Decis Support Syst 31:241–262

  99. Tushman M, Anderson P (1990) Technological discontinuities and dominant designs: a cyclical model of technological change. Adm Sci Q 35(4):604–633

  100. Ulrich KT, Eppinger SD (2004) Product design and development. McGraw-Hill, New York

  101. Urban GL, Hauser JR (1993) Design and marketing of new product, 2nd edn. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs

  102. Urban GL, Katz GM (1983) Pre-test-market models: validation and managerial implications J Mark Res 20(3): 221–234

  103. Utterback JM, Abernathy WJ (1975) A dynamic model of process and product innovation. Omega 3(6):639–656

  104. Von Hippel E (1986) Lead users: a source of novel product concepts. Manage Sci 32(7):791–805

  105. Ward AC, Liker JK, Cristiano JJ, Sobek DK II (1995) The second toyota paradox: how delaying decisions can make better cars faster. Sloan Manage Rev 36(3):43–61

  106. Whitfield RI, Duffy AHB, Coates G, Hills B (2002) Distributed design coordination. Res Eng Design 13(4):243–252

  107. Zaltman G (1997) Rethinking market research: putting people back in. J Mark Res 34(4):424–437

  108. Ziv-Av A, Reich Y (2005) SOS: subjective objective system for generating optimal product concepts. Des Stud 26(5):509–533

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Francesca Montagna.

Appendix: list of tools (or families of tools) proposed in Table 5

Appendix: list of tools (or families of tools) proposed in Table 5

  1. 1.

    Real Options Valuation (ROV) methods

  2. 2.

    Portfolio Management methods (Cooper et al. 2001)

  3. 3.

    “Score card” Method (Cooper et al. 2001)

  4. 4.

    “Roadmap” Method (Hunt et al. 2004)

  5. 5.

    Strategic choice Approach (STRAD) (Friend 1989)

  6. 6.

    Focus Group Methods (Kontio et al. 2004)

  7. 7.

    Experiential Interviews Techniques (Griffin and Hauser 1996)

  8. 8.

    Kano Model (Clausing 1994)

  9. 9.

    Empathic Design Methods (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  10. 10.

    Contextual Inquiry Techniques (Holtzblatt and Beyer 1993)

  11. 11.

    Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) (Zaltman 1997)

  12. 12.

    Kansei Analysis Method (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  13. 13.

    The Mind of the Market (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  14. 14.

    “Means-End Chain” (Gutman 1982) or “Value-Systems” (Rokeach 1973) Methods (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  15. 15.

    Affinity Diagrams or K-J Analysis Methods (Mizuno 1988)

  16. 16.

    Customer-based Needs-Grouping Methods (Griffin and Hauser 1993)

  17. 17.

    Web-based Methods (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  18. 18.

    Soft System Methodology (SSM) (Chekland 1981) (Presley et al. 2000)

  19. 19.

    Analytic Hierarchy Process (Saaty 1980) (Thomas 1993; Presley et al. 2000)

  20. 20.

    Quality Function Deployment (QFD) Method

  21. 21.

    Function Analysis System Technique (FAST) Diagrams

  22. 22.

    Brainstorming (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  23. 23.

    Morphological Analysis Technique (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  24. 24.

    Group Sessions Method (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  25. 25.

    Forced Relationships Method (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  26. 26.

    Six Hats Method (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  27. 27.

    Inventive Templates Technique (Goldenberg et al. 1999a, b)

  28. 28.

    Lead users Method (Von Hippel 1986)

  29. 29.

    Set-based Design Method (Ward et al. 1995)

  30. 30.

    Subjective objective system (Ziv-Av and Reich 2005)

  31. 31.

    Synthesis by morphology (Hari et al. 2004)

  32. 32.

    Controlled Convergence Method (Pugh 1990)

  33. 33.

    Value Engineering method

  34. 34.

    33b. Conjoint Analysis and Web-based Conjoint Analysis Methods (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  35. 35.

    Cost-benefit Analysis Method

  36. 36.

    Multi Criteria Decision Analysis methods (e.g., ELECTRE methods (Roy 1996)

  37. 37.

    Freehand drawings

  38. 38.

    Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems

  39. 39.

    Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) systems

  40. 40.

    Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) systems

  41. 41.

    Structured Analysis and Design Technique (SADT)

  42. 42.

    Simulation and Combinatorial Methods (Loch et al. 2001)

  43. 43.

    Virtual Prototyping Models

  44. 44.

    Rapid Prototyping Methods and tools

  45. 45.

    Assembly Modelling Techniques

  46. 46.

    Multi-objective Optimization Methods

  47. 47.

    Collaborative Optimization Methods (CO) (Norese et al. 2007)

  48. 48.

    Group technology Approaches

  49. 49.

    Graph theory Diagrams

  50. 50.

    Virtual Manufacturing Techniques

  51. 51.

    Rapid Manufacturing Methods and tools

  52. 52.

    Computer-aided Production Engineering (CAPE) or Computer Aided Production Planning (CAPP) systems

  53. 53.

    Structured Group Management techniques (Thomas 1993)

  54. 54.

    Gantt Charts

  55. 55.

    Critical Path Diagrams and PERT Diagrams

  56. 56.

    Action Plans or Time tables

  57. 57.

    Projects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) Methodology (Rashid and Ismail 2007)

  58. 58.

    Activity Based Management (ABM) or Activity Based Costing (ABC) Methods

  59. 59.

    Risk Management Methods and techniques

  60. 60.

    Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) methodology

  61. 61.

    EDM (Engineering Data Management), PDM (Product Data Management), PIM (Product Information Management), TDM (Technical Data Management), eBOP (Electronic Bill of Processes) systems

  62. 62.

    Tools or systems for visualisation without file format changes (i.e., JT)

  63. 63.

    Tools or systems for data exchange with different formats (i.e., Intermediate data exchange formats)

  64. 64.

    Tools or systems for data exchange with meta-formats

  65. 65.

    MS COM/DCOM, CORBA e J2EE technologies

  66. 66.

    IGES, VDA-FS, STEP-ISO 10303 etc.

  67. 67.

    Open Standard, Open Source and Peer to Peer communications tools

  68. 68.

    Design Structure Matrix

  69. 69.

    Cooperative Distributed Problem Solving Methods (Durfee et al. 1989)

  70. 70.

    Agent-based Approaches (Madhusudan 2005)

  71. 71.

    Collaborative Knowledge Management Systems (Tiwana and Ramesh 2001)

  72. 72.

    Shared Mental Models (Cannon-Bowers et al. 1993)

  73. 73.

    Boundary objects (Boland and Tenkasi 1995)

  74. 74.

    Product Range Models (Costa and Young 2001)

  75. 75.

    Knowledge Connection Models (Popovic 2004)

  76. 76.

    Mintzberg Model (Mintzberg et al. 1976)

  77. 77.

    Trial/Repeat Analysis Method (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  78. 78.

    Recursive Analysis Method (Dahan and Hauser 2001)

  79. 79.

    Econometric methods (Pringle et al. 1982)

  80. 80.

    Pre-Test-Market Models (Urban and Katz 1983)

  81. 81.

    Preference Distribution Models (Hauser and Shugan 1983)

  82. 82.

    PZB Model (Parasuraman et al. 1985)

  83. 83.

    SERVQUAL Model (Parasuraman et al. 1988)

  84. 84.

    Two Way Model (Schvaneveldt et al. 1991)

  85. 85.

    Lot sizing algorithms and techniques

  86. 86.

    Dynamic Lot sizing algorithms and techniques

  87. 87.

    Statistical Inventory Models

  88. 88.

    Multi-period Models

  89. 89.

    Aggregate Production Planning

  90. 90.

    Heuristic algorithms and techniques

  91. 91.

    MRP systems

  92. 92.

    MRPII systems

  93. 93.

    ERP systems

  94. 94.

    Integrated Management Systems (IMS)

  95. 95.

    JIT techniques (e.g., Kanban techniques)

  96. 96.

    Scheduling Algorithms

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Montagna, F. Decision-aiding tools in innovative product development contexts. Res Eng Design 22, 63–86 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00163-011-0103-z

Download citation


  • NPD
  • NPD management
  • Decision-aiding tools
  • Product lifecycle management (PLM)