One of the main benefits of a product platform is the ability to reuse important assets in your company and share them across a family of products. Therefore, a platform gives you the opportunity to divide your processes in two main categories: preparation and execution. In a way we introduce the paradigm of mass production to the design departments in order to avoid differences and inventing the wheel over and over again.
Most of the work done when designing the product platform can be seen as a preparation phase. The platform serves as a design template, thus enabling faster and more efficient activities while executing customer specific products. Thus, when heightening the amount of preparation you may cut down resources and time spent on executing. Many of the processes involved in bringing products to the marketplace, such as development, design, purchasing and production activities can be removed from the critical path, if you consciously split the activities in to preparation and execution.
Many different assets can be prepared on a general level and made ready for reuse in customer specific projects.
This will have an impact on the different processes in the value chain all the way from conceptual development through production and
supply chain and all the way out to the sales departments.
Concepts, physical designs, subsystems (often referred to as modules), production processes, packaging, semi-finished goods and raw materials, sales material, text bits and pictures are examples of reusable assets that can be prepared for customization.
Scoping the product platform is an important part of this preparation, while choosing which assets to reuse and which benefits to strive for. Often, if you try to satisfy every single customer need with your platform, your will end up with a product too expensive for the low cost segments and too bad for the high end segments.
Once the customer needs and demands are clarified in a specific project, the platform can be used as a template for bringing products fast and efficient to the customers. Customer specific design processes will take place, along with the initiation of customer specific processes in the production and supply chain, e.g. by ordering semi-finished goods from a stock. Because the design is based on known technology and there is a high degree of reuse in the production, it is an easier task to hand over products from design to manufacturing.
Usually, companies experience a dramatic reduction in the critical lead time, because the execution phases are cleaned from time consuming processes that were once on the critical path but are now done in advance.