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The Impact of Product Complexity and Waste in Manufacturing

The complexity of any business and its products is heightened with each new expansion and iteration. The introduction of new products requires the adjustment of production schedules, inventory, and supply networks. This is intensified by the increasingly complex products that result from the recent trend of mass customization. The costs can be difficult to quantify as they spread across all stages of production, including secondary costs such as increased overhead and slowed manufacturing. Product roadmap software that can help predict these costs, such as the Gocious platform, is underutilized in the industry.

Recent research has explained that the costs of these manufacturing complexities exceed most businesses’ calculations. Often, negative impacts on customers and profit go unassessed.

Industry experts have described a phenomenon in which adding value-generating customizations is offset by value-destroying complexity. Along these lines, prioritizing complexity in the process first, as opposed to complexity in the product, can introduce further unnecessary complications. It is necessary to balance customization against complexity, and advisable to focus on the product before the process.

Complexity naturally grows over time in the manufacturing of a product. Accelerating this with additional complexity is a decision that should be thoroughly assessed for direct costs as well as hidden costs. Gocious, a company behind innovative project roadmap management software that provides intuitive modeling for product lines, lists several factors to consider before introducing a new product or customization. These factors include the experience of the end-user, how the new product or customization will impact the value of other products as well as its place in the market, the change in overhead and operation costs, and whether this new product will affect compliance with regulations.

Companies frequently fail to adequately evaluate these factors, resulting in an overestimation of the value added by a new product or customization. The importance of evaluating the target market and conducting industry research is less intuitively understood than many companies assume, as reported by Gocious. Because companies prioritize process complexity over product complexity, they overlook actual buyer feedback. This contributes to the overestimation of the new product.

The management of complexity is directly tied to the value added by-products. Mass customization has reached a point, for many businesses and products, where product managers lack the resources to fully understand and contend with the complexity of their products. Many companies still attempt to describe and manage their mass customization products through spreadsheet data and emails, having not updated their processes to match the complexity of their product lines and manufacturing scale. Lack of proper software and adequate tools can lead to the failure of a product line that should have, if more thoroughly researched and more closely managed, added significant value.

Modern solutions, such as product roadmap software, minimize lost value by helping to minimize product complexity, account for the intersections of timelines, cost, and compliance, and analyze information to provide value propositions. Companies utilizing these solutions to minimize complexity have the advantage of streamlining the manufacture of more efficiently designed products.

With the proper software platform, which allows for analysis of all these factors and their interactions with one another, product managers are much better equipped for the mass customization that defines modern manufacturing. The company that best uses the added value of customization while minimizing the lost value of complexity is the company that will achieve the best outcomes.

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