Approach to Evaluate Complexity in New Product Development Projects

Approach to Evaluate Complexity in New Product Development Projects

G. Schuh M. Riesener C. Mattern 

RWTH Aachen University, Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL), Germany

1 October 2016
| Citation



Manufacturing companies respond to the customers’ demand for more individualized products and enhanced functionality by increasing product variety and integrating multiple technologies in their products. Consequently, complexity in new product development (NPD) projects increases as more and more interdependencies and framework conditions have to be considered. A systematic evaluation of the parameters that drive the complexity of an NPD project prior to project kick-off would enable project management to identify critical issues up-front and adjust the project setup accordingly. There are several recent studies that analyze project complexity and identify complexity drivers. However, there is still a lack of a holistic approach that helps project managers to analyze the complexity of NPD projects and at the same time derive specific measures in order to adjust project complexity.

This paper presents an approach for complexity evaluation of NPD projects during project preparation. The approach is based on complexity drivers that have been determined through literature research, classified according to their impact on the complexity of NPD projects and influenceability by project management as well as on the analysis in terms of their interdependencies. Through individual assessment of the complexity drivers and through portfolio analysis, the focal points of complexity in an NPD project can be identified. Measures to level complexity according to the company’s positioning can be derived from studying the portfolio of complexity drivers taking into account their impact on first order interactions between complexity drivers.


complexity drivers, complexity evaluation, engineering, new product development, project management


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