From time to time, AIM likes to share success stories to illustrate how our methodologies are being applied.
Case Study: Oils well that ends well
A New Product Development Example
Sorry for the bad pun, which you will understand in a moment. You see, one AIM client, Saint-Gobain, makes products that aid in refurbishing metal parts of all kinds, from jet engine turbine blades to automotive engine valves. With so much growth in drilling for oil and gas, they wondered if their products could be used successfully to help refurbish drill bit componentry used in extraction.
Not knowing much about the industry, the team of approximately 6 (mix of engineering, sales and marketing professionals) embarked first on Market Research, exploring the internet, purchasing studies and interviewing a few industry experts. From there, they had enough information to know they were on the right track, narrow their target segment focus and gain confidence that, with the right new product, the segment was both winnable and worth winning.
Next, they conducted Discovery Interviews with multiple potential customers in offices and in the field, collecting hundreds of “desired outcomes” from customers and numerous “top picks” or high-priority outcomes. After filtering these top picks to a list of top 10 outcomes, they conducted Preference Interviews to quantify customer priorities in terms of importance and satisfaction. This process illuminated just one or two performance elements customers indicated that, if enhanced, they would highly value – and pay for.
Then, the focus of the project turned from the outside (customers) more to the inside (analysis and planning). Saint-Gobain conducted Side-by-Side Testing, comparing competitor offerings to their existing offerings, leading to the setting of Product Objectives for the new product…the exact performance goals for several key attributes.
Only then did the client conduct Technical Brainstorming in order to develop approaches to meet the aggressive product objectives desired by potential customers. Why didn’t they develop a solution sooner? Because Blueprinting puts customer needs (outcomes) first and that’s what drives our ideas. So you hear the words “what if we…” towards the end of the process, not at the first customer meeting. In this case, our client was able to develop specific technology enabling them to meet performance goals of a new product for the oil and gas industry.
Finally, a Business Case was developed in order to gain management approval for new product investment and to enter their official Stage-Gate development process. Since they had been collecting information to include in the business case during the duration of the up-front project, it was relatively easy filling out information on the market, potential customers, value proposition and estimated sales. On the cost side, the client opted for a creative approach to early product production. Since a full manufacturing line would be costly and their product was not yet proven in this new market, they proposed producing the first product batches by hand. This reduced risk by introducing a future milestone at which sales would be evaluated prior to further investment.
This case is so new that our client’s product is now in the market test phase. The time from the project team’s initial training in Blueprinting to the actual market test was about 10 months. During this period, the team diligently viewed additional training via the AIM e-Learning Center’s online modules. Using a real project, they “learned by doing”, setting up and conducting interviews, utilizing the Blueprinter software’s analytical tools and taking advantage of the built-in business case generator. We think this is a great example of how smoothly and effectively a Blueprinting project can go…even for brand new users. We find lots of cases like this one in our training. In fact, we didn’t have to dig too deep to find this example! Sorry, another bad pun.
If you have questions or would like to hear of additional case studies, please contact us.