Product Design Audit
The purpose of this product design audit is to look at how products are managed within the business and to identify where improvements can be made which may lead to increased productivity, profitability, reduced risk and to increase customer satisfaction. The audit focusses on three basic principles;
- The existence of complete product design
- Simplification of product structure (not content)
- Single point of reference
The audit has five sections;
This section looks at what is important to the company, their customers and key markets. How is the company structured and the what is expected from all products? It is important to consider the expectations from different markets, and the solutions each product delivers. If it is a competitive market what characteristics would make the product more competitive. Would reducing lead times, or eradicating errors be a factor in increasing market share? How are products sold currently? Is it necessary for engineering to provide sales additional support when specifying products or can sales access all product information directly? It is important to look at how the company is performing and how this is influenced by the products delivered. This section of the audit looks at the high-level objectives for the business and the structure of the business to deliver products, ideally, this part of the product design audit should collect the views of senior management.
This section looks in detail at the products, and in particular how they are designed and who is responsible for that design. It is important to look at how information is prepared, saved and communicated throughout the business. How many products are there? and what difficulties occur during the sizing and selection, detailing parts and the final issue of information. Who is involved in the product design? and how is this information checked and validated? How long does it take to engineer a solution and what is the resulting cost of this work? The audit takes into account the processes for product improvement, new product development and how this activity links to market demand.
This section looks in detail at how products are sold, the information used to prepare quotations and the accuracy of the information used. Attention is given to the quality of information used and the time to retrieve and process this information. It also looks at how costs are acquired or estimated during the preparation of customer quotations. How long does it take to prepare a quotation? and what technical or commercial support is required? What is the order conversion ratio and what is the overall cost to the business supporting these customer enquiries?
This section looks at how Engineering manages products and whether the approach is proactive or reactive. The audit looks at how products are managed throughout their lifecycle to meet the demands of the business and the customers they serve. It looks at how workload fluctuates, and the impact of customer orders and sales enquiries. Do bottlenecks occur in engineering, and if so how are these managed? How are existing products developed? How well is product knowledge communicated?
In this section of the report, recommendations are made for a product strategy and suggestions of how to achieve greater productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction which will reduce risk and cost to the business. Solutions would focus on the impact of successful product standardisation and the possible introduction of product configuration and design automation systems. Management may use this product design audit as part of a wider business plan. The information gathered in the audit constitutes highly confidential information and all information remains confidential.
For more information on product standardisation, see our articles on