Publication Details

Couchman, P. (2004). Accelerating new product development: the experience of concurrent engineering in Australia. CIMOC 2004 : Unleashing the Potential of Asian Firms Through Innovation and Knowledge Management. : Proceedings from the Inaugural CIMOC Symposium, Hong Kong (pp. 156-181). Hong Kong: Center for Innovation Management and Organizational Change, University of Hong Kong.


Concurrent engineering (CE) is a distinctive approach to the organisation and management of new product development (NPD) which seeks to achieve cross-functional integration, product life cycle design integration and high levels of project task concurrence in order to reduce development lead times. To address the limited research to date on CE in the Asia-Pacific region, the paper presents findings from a survey of Australian manufacturers (n = 150) and from five in-depth case studies on the application of CE in Australia. The survey found that just over one-half (54%) of the companies surveyed used CE to some extent and that, while adopters had obtained benefits, there was still room for improvement. The case studies revealed differing approaches to the introduction of CE, and identified three main problems with its implementation: confusion about CE, a lack of senior management commitment, and an underestimation of the difficulties associated with the successful introduction of CE. Although CE could be simply dismissed as a passing management fad or fashion, its promotion has had a positive effect by focusing attention on key problems with NPD processes and contributing to the solution of those problems. The paper concludes by arguing for more detailed case studies on NPD and by claiming that the general approach of CE, as a guiding framework for managing NPD rather than a prescriptive methodology, has much to offer many manufacturing firms.