Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What in hell is the fuzzy front end?

No, it's not a new way to customize Honda Civics. According to the Product Development and Management Association, the Fuzzy Front End is a model describing what happens in the earliest stages of new product creation.

So "front end" is taken care of. Now, why "fuzzy"? Because it's unpredictable, nonsequential, inconsistent and hard to measure. That being said, there's an increasing belief that this phase can be improved, and through such improvement great leaps can be made in increasing the returns from new products and services.

The article linked above describes the fuzzy front end and a way to formalize (to the extent something fuzzy can be formalized) the model to provide more consistency and predictability in companies' product creation efforts.

First, some important definitions from the article:

  • Opportunity: A business or technology gap, that a company or individual realizes, that exists between the current situation and an envisioned future in order to capture competitive advantage, respond to a threat, solve a problem, or ameliorate a difficulty.
  • Idea: The most embryonic form of a new product or service. It often consists of a high-level view of the solution envisioned for the problem identified by the opportunity.
  • Concept: Has a well-defined form, including both a written and visual description, that includes its primary features and customer benefits combined with a broad understanding of the technology needed.
To be continued...

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