future studies in innovation process
NEWS, JULY 2020

Futures Studies in Innovation Processes

NEWS

Future studies in innovationDuring the past 5 months Lina Simme and Linda Eriksson from the master program in Design and Product Development at Linköping University conducted their master thesis together with us at Modular Management. It has been an exciting journey both for Lina and Linda and for us at Modular Management. Knowledge development is a strong passion for us and in the interview below Lina and Linda will share their experience and Colin De Kwant from Modular Management will give his view of the result. At the end you can download the full master thesis.

What has been the topic of your research?

The topic we chose to write about is how you could apply futures studies in innovation processes. The full title is  “The Application of Futures Studies in Innovation Processes Scenario methods as a tool to facilitate flexibility and enable
future resilient products”

Why did you decided to write about this specific topic?

Companies in different industries are under a lot of pressure. We have seen that the environment for all industries is characterised by a dynamic market with a rate of change that is higher than ever especially concerning technological developments. Laws and regulation must be followed and nobody can be certain about what is to come. Innovation has therefore become a must rather than a need and you must be able to respond quickly on the changes in your environment to stay relevant on the market. Therefore we found the combination of futures studies and innovation processes incredibly interesting as a way to prepare for future changes although we know nothing about them!

What did you do in your research?

We studied what was discussed in literature concerning futures studies and innovation processes and tried to understand how we could link these two together in order to create a more flexible and holistic innovation process. We then conducted interviews with three different companies within the manufacturing of vehicles in the Swedish industry of rail and road vehicles to investigate how they have structured their innovation processes and how they make plans for their future. We tried to find ways of how and where futures studies could be incorporated within the innovation process in order enable for companies to produce more future resilient products.

How would you summarize the findings of your research?

Through our study we have found that the conditions for companies’ capacity to innovate depend largely on their internal knowledge sharing as well as their interaction with the surrounding environment. We further found that futures studies are used in companies of the industry of rail and road vehicles, mostly at the corporate level to support planning and develop strategies. Futures studies are also moderately used in early phases if the innovation process with the purpose of detecting promising research projects, future development and product concepts. However, we have identified that there is potential and a need of making more use of the already performed futures studies as well as improving their communication within the organization.future studies

The main issue that we saw with the present futures studies conducted in the industry of rail and road vehicles is that the results are not sufficiently communicated within the organization. One way of improving the integration of futures studies in the innovation process would be to involve employees from all departments in activities aimed at creating scenarios of the future. The result from the scenario activity could then serve as input for several activities: Promote idea generation to achieve more high-quality ideas, to ensure the quality and market fit of the products during the development process and as support for the corporate strategy planning. By using the scenarios of the future for more than one purpose, companies are given a chance to overcome the problems they are experiencing with translating the corporate strategy into specific product teams’ actions as well as aligning the direction of the different departments.

What are the key insights and take-away from this report?

Communication is key! Be awake and alert and stay open minded for all possibilities!

How is your research connected to KTH’s research centre ECO2VehicleDesign?

Our master thesis is supporting the research that Colin de Kwant is conducting at Modular Management which in turn is a part of the research within the ECO2Vehicle Design centre at KTH. This way we became a part of the research center ECO2 and were further able to use it as a platform to find people to interview for our study. We were given the opportunity to participate during some of their gatherings which gave us great information and insights of the Swedish transport system in general. It turned out that the companies in the center made up for perfect candidates to investigate innovation processes as their products are very complex.

Why did you choose to do your thesis with Modular Management?

We met with Modular Management during a career fair at the University of Linköping and were introduced to what they do. As an engineer within the area of design and product development, modularization is something extremely engaging and opens a lot of possibilities. We met some of the employees and got a really good impression of the company so we started a conversation about what kind of master thesis that could be valuable for both Modular Management and us to conduct. Discussions led to an interesting subject that we could shape into something that would fit well with our prior knowledge and competences and which we really wanted to learn more about.

How have you experienced this process and what are your personal take-aways from this?

The process and collaboration with Modular Management has been great! We have had the opportunity to see how a consultancy firm really operates and how collaboration with other companies can be performed. We have been really welcomed at the company by all employees from the very first day and we have felt that we are a part of the Modular Management team. Although Covid-19 has limited us from being at the office for the last couple of months the feeling of being a part of Modular Management never changed. Thanks to the trust, freedom and support they have given us we never experienced any problems combining the criteria from our university noor our own interests with the interests of Modular Management.  – So if you are about to start a thesis, we recommend that you reach out to Modular Management!

What are your plans for the future? 

For the autumn Linda will begin her career at Axfood as a project controller for their IT department, which she is really excited about! Lina is still searching for exciting new challenges, so don’t miss out on the opportunity of grabbing her for your company! But first we will both enjoy the summer months and some time off after five years of intensive studies. Although who knows, anything can happen as the future is uncertain anyways!

Thanks Lina & Linda! Now turning to Colin De Kwant,  VP at Modular Management. You have been the supervisor, together with Arne Erlandsson  for this project and what are your reflections from the result of their research?

The results and attitude to the work by Lina and Linda have been really great. Future studies is a big field of research which is greatly under appreciated both in MSc university studies as well as industry. Not being able to know what the future holds and still being able to prepare for it in a structured way in organizations by exploring and aligning on areas of change as well as certainty builds strategic flexibility in both individuals and organizations. Modularity has since long been a means to create and sustain such strategic flexibility, and we know how to apply it in a structured way. This study helped in formalizing and structure to what ends modularity shall be evaluated and applied to a product: to fit and perform in future environments (aka scenarios). The study also identified ways to extend the use of future studies from corporate strategy and fuzzy front-end development into the full innovation process, including development of products and module systems that may enable or disable innovation and strategic opportunities along the development and module system lifecycle. 

Anything specific that stood out?

I believe the interviews with industry specialists have been really well done and valuable. Our ECO2VehicleDesign centre partners have been really helpful and generous to provide Lina and Linda with insights into their innovation processes. We at Modular Management gain a lot of insight on the role of corporate strategy and product planning when evaluating and guiding the creation of module systems in our engagements with clients. This study was a great example of the complimentary value of our research network: to discuss challenges and the innovation process with industry experts in open and unconditional conversations and structured in a broader context of the innovation process.

How are Modular management involved in KTH’s research center ECO2VehicleDesign.

Colin: ECO2 is a quite unique research center. Like I said about the interviews, the center enable to share and compare future challenges, gain insight from research across rail and road, small and large companies, at detailed technical practical as well as industry level, with academia, research labs, SMEs and even competing OEMs. That is really great. This is actually precisely the culture in which innovations are spawn and images of the future can provide structure to the conversation and diversity of perspectives. Modular Management acts as a sounding board for all of ECO2 research as a member of the center coordination group, but also conducts and shares its own research together  with some of  center partners and gaining feedback from the full center community.

What is your learning and take-away from the report?

The study and report reinforces our belief in the need for structured sustained modelling of future needs and context to guide product and organizational innovation. We believe both exploratory and normative scenarios can act as communication and evaluation platforms for the modularization options at our clients. Before, in early phases, during implementation and along the module system lifecycle. We see the need and challenges to connect corporate strategy with design realization in each of our engagements, not just vehicle industries. Innovative strategies emerge both at the top and bottom of organizations.

How will this be used at Modular Management going forward?

This is the really exciting part: how will we use this work? We are working on a next phase of this research aimed to combine the module system and scenario data to assess the robustness of a modular product system. We’ll look at both new (conceptual) and existing (current) product systems, to guide product planners, strategists and designers in strategic and design opportunities and challenges as the future unfolds.

Thank you Lina & Linda for a fantastic job and we highly recommend you all to read their full report.  You can download it below and we will send it to you.



Blog

Examples of Product configurators and the Importance of Guided Selling

By Alex Ginsburg

INTRODUCTION

In this post Alex Ginsburg, senior specialist with more then 25 years of experience in the field of product architecture and configuration, will share his personal experience when going out on the hunt for a new vacuum cleaner and the frustration he as a customer experienced. Alex will summarize his findings and what we can learn from these companies to improve their customer experience with well-designed product configurators and guided selling techniques.

Understanding customer needs

I have been working with product development all my adult life – more than 25 years. All good products stem from a profound understanding of customer needs. To develop a perfect product, a company needs to know where, how, when, why, how often the product is used, cleaned, maintained, stored, etc.

There are multiple tools and methods to capture customer needs and translate them to specifications containing functions, features and performance levels of the product. Few companies use these methods in a consistent and structured fashion, but most still manage to develop tacit knowledge within their product development teams. To a smaller extent the develop organizational structured knowledge in the form of target segmentation models with customer personas, check lists and other assets. Therefore, most companies have, if not great, at least an acceptable knowledge about their customers’ needs and have the capability to translate them into some form of product specifications.

The process from specification-to-design is often the more consistent and structured. There are documented methods in how to break-down specifications from systems to components and how to calculate, simulate and test to make sure specifications are met.

 

If the product and system level specification is well done, a development team only needs to verify against this specification. They don’t need to verify against the actual customer needs. An example is the customer requirement that the product must be portable. There is a clear specification for the max weight, the max distance of centre of gravity from the body of the person carrying the product, the shape and material of the handle and the max height from product base to the handle. If the development team meets these specifications the product should be portable.

If I am a professional, repetitive buyer of a certain product I have probably gained enough knowledge and experience with the product to be interested in many of the details of a very technical specification. But when I’m a one-time, novice buyer of a certain product, those details are meaningless to me. I have at least some idea about how I will use the product. I know if I want it to be easily portable. But if learn that it has an Ergo-handle covered with Tri-flex rubber and if the centre of gravity is 30 cm from my body when carrying, it doesn’t help me make a decision.

So, how come many companies are fairly successful in developing products that are fulfilling customer needs, but they are terribly bad in guiding the buyer in the purchasing situation. How come they are throwing a lot of mainly meaningless specification values, technical terms, internal brand and model names at us. Why not ask me about what I need and present the best match?

My plan is to share both mine and my colleagues’ experiences, knowledge and observations related to needs-based selling, also referred to as guided selling. I will start with my experience when buying a vacuum cleaner, but I will also discuss some more complex and industrial products. So here we go…

Example: customer experience buying a vacuum cleaner

I will start by sharing a recent personal experience when buying a new vacuum cleaner for my home. Although I actually participated in developing a new vacuum cleaner platform long time ago, I have mostly forgotten the details. Therefore, I am considering myself a regular vacuum cleaner buyer. I know the where, why and how I need to vacuum, but I am not very interested in special vacuum cleaner features or technical specifications.

My family has two vacuum cleaners. The first one is always “on display” in the kitchen to be easily at hand. It is used several times a day for small jobs. Most importantly, with this vacuum cleaner, is that it needs to look nice. An ugly product “on display” would drive me nuts. Secondly, it needs to be light and easy-to-use. It doesn’t need any exceptional high performance, and I only expect it to last 3-4 years. It definitely should not be expensive. Since it used frequently and has a short expected lifetime, the environmental aspects such as power consumption and material selections are also important to me.

The second vacuum cleaner, which this story is about, is the bigger one used every second week. It is used to vacuum the entire house and to do the occasional “big, dirty jobs” like cleaning the cars. I have destroyed one of these vacuums by cleaning the dust after having plastered a room. The last one was destroyed when my kids used it to clean an outdoor sofa from leaves. They reasoned that there could be big spiders among the leaves, and after completing the job, they left it outside in a heavy rain – game over again.

Consequently, my top priority for a replacement vacuum cleaner is that it is sturdy. At the same time, I absolutely don’t want it “on display”. It must fit into my rather narrow cleaning cupboard, preferably without half of it falling out every time I open the door. I don’t have any indoor pets and my family does not have allergies, so a normal level of cleaning performance is enough. Absolutely no extra rotating brushes or wet cleaning is necessary and, in my impression, will only jam and break down. Since it is used infrequently and I expect it to last at least 15-20 years, the previous environmental aspects and price are of less concern.

Nilfisk vacuum cleaner

I am thinking something sturdy, half-industrial, like Nilfisk , but it must be a different form factor to be stored in my small closet. I’m not planning to rebuild the closet for a vacuum cleaner.

I started to look around the internet, and almost all vacuum cleaner manufacturers had the same approach. I have included images below from the Bosch  webpage as an example. On the landing page, Bosch starts with heavy marketing of some features and innovations that do not match what I need. I start by selecting a type of vacuum cleaner and model, often with some possibility to filter on some pre-selected features or specification values such as “HighSpin motor” or cord length.  I am presented with a list of model names with some images, highlights and the specifications.

Some of these models could be a good match for me, maybe not. The issue here is that I really don’t know. What I am sure of is that none of the models presented spoke to me or my needs.

Example: when product configurators are empowered with guided selling

Out of the maybe 15 manufacturers that I looked at, Miele was the only one taking a different approach. At the start I was asked the same questions about the type of vacuum cleaner – canister with bag, bagless, upright… Afterwards, I was asked how I will use the vacuum cleaner and about some of my priorities.

At the end, I was presented with my best match (I was laughing out loud): Compact C1 Cat and dog powerline with turbo-brush and odor filter.

Miele has by far the best needs-based selection tool of all the brands I looked at. They approach guided selling in a very nice and easy-to-use manner. Unfortunately, they don’t have a product that fits my needs. I’m thinking that they have made a strategic decision to target specific segments and applications that do not include me. I fully understand that a company will not be excellent if they try to be everything to everyone.

But I was curious, so I went back and changed some of my selections. I found that my changes didn’t affect the result. I went back again and changed my selections in a more random way. It seemed that behind the nice customer-facing tool, they only have a very narrow and rigid product range. By narrow, I mean there are a few basic models to select between. By rigid, I mean that there are few possibilities to add or remove features and options per basic model.

5 insights to improve guided selling together with your product configurator

I liked Miele’s front-end, but I left disappointed with their product offering. And, when I thought about it, Miele didn’t learn anything from my interaction. They can probably track my visit, making a first set of selections followed by back-and-forth changes in more and more random ways. I don’t see how they can’t possibly guess why I left without purchasing a vacuum cleaner. They missed the opportunity for free and truly honest buyer feedback.

To summarize my insights from my vacuum cleaner purchasing experience I to:

  1. Make it easy to find the right product by explicitly asking customers about their known needs and then present the best match.
  2. Also target unknown needs by asking broader questions about how, when, where, why, how often the product is used. For example, I might have discovered that I needed a waterproof vacuum cleaner that can be forgotten outside in the rain. I never would have thought of something like that before writing this post.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions even if there is a risk of not having an answers today. If buyers are asking for combinations that don’t match today’s products, the information can feed into new product development, helping to develop a better and more flexible future product range.
  4. Have one entry point for all interchangeable products. With interchangeable, I mean that they have the same basic function and a customer could replace one with the other. In the vacuum cleaner example, I don’t care if the vacuum cleaner is canister with bag or bagless. That is an annoying, irrelevant selection to me. I want the best match from all types.
  5. Finally, balance the above recommendations on asking more and wider questions with simplicity for the user. Personally, I would never spend the time to answer hundreds of questions. The solution is to expand to more detailed selections in areas of potential high interest, but the expansion into more detail must be voluntary. I would happily answer a series of questions related to max storing dimensions, because I was trying to make sure the new vacuum cleaner would fit into my small cleaning closet. On the other hand, many other buyers probably wouldn’t care and would find these questions annoying.

Scania as an example on guided selling in complex product configurators

I will finalize this post by giving a good example of guided selling for a more complex product: Scania trucks. Scania’s configurator is not applying 100% perfect guided selling, they do have some steps in the configurator where you need some expertise to select items like wheel configuration. I guess most truck buyers would know what they want here. But Scania’s main approach is very good. They don’t ask to select a model or specification values such as a motor type or size. They ask how the truck will be used. For example, there are questions about max load and the type of roads the truck will travel. Based on these answers Scania proposes a complete product configuration including the correct motor size. Every truck they deliver is unique to meet a customer’s specific needs.

Try it yourself at Scania’s home page 

The strongest combination: when customer needs match an available product configuration

By far, the strongest combination is both a good front-end with easy-to-use guided selling and a truly configurable product that meets different customer needs with a perfectly matched offering.

There are two fundamental ways to get started:

  1. The Miele “front-end” way that starts directly with guiding a customer to the best matching product. In some cases, the product assortment and product flexibility doesn’t allow a good match with a customer’s needs. But please make sure to think about how you can learn and improve the matching over time. If you are interested in all aspects of Mass Customization, you should read [link to Mass Customization white paper] covering the Product Design, Information System and Supply Chain aspects of truly fulfilling unique customer needs. (PC: car config assessment)
  2. the Scania “back-bone” way that starts with a modular product, documented and handled in the IT-systems for easy mix and match and assembly on a flexible line for each customer order. Scania’s modularity has been one of their most valuable assets for decades, but it is only in recent years that they have started to offer their product range through guided selling. If you want to read more about Modularization – how to design a product that has the flexibility to meet a wide variation of customer needs, you should read [what is a good modular system].

 

Summary

To summarize, product managers, sales managers and sales reps should start by thinking about the principles used in selling a product. Is the product pushed to customers, or are the needs of customers pulled to align and propose the right solution?

Download Guide: How to Achieve Mass Customization
Alex Ginsburg
AUTHOR

Alex Ginsburg

Principal, Manager & Partner

 

 
Blog

When the Product Architecture is a System of Modular Systems

By Tobias Martin

INTRODUCTION

This is my second post in a series of blogs around modular systems. The first post, called What makes a Good Modular system is found here… 

In this post, I will move beyond the idea of good, balanced module systems into how they can be leveraged across multiple product platforms to generate even greater profitability. I will continue with the same example company who started with independent module systems and transitioned to ones that are broadly shared.

What is a Modular System?

A modular system is a collection of building blocks that can be configured in different ways, adapting for different customer needs. Over time, some modules will be developed to serve new purposes or to improve performance in some aspect. Optimization and cost-cutting can be done within modules without the typical ripple effect throughout the product and, when done well, without reducing the value to customers. Many companies use modularization as a tool to reduce product complexity or to make the customer order process more efficient by configuring-to-order rather than engineering-to-order.  

If you are interested to know how a Modular design differs from traditional design, feel free to download this explanatory guide Modular Design VS Traditional Design

The most obvious and traditionally known way to create modular systems is to group a number of product platforms that share technical properties (technology and sizing) and supply chain properties (factory footprint and supplier base) into a systems. The system, in this case, is scoped as end-to-end products. Functions that exist across other platforms are not typically evaluated or shared.

This inevitably leads to sub-optimization where functions are customized and re-evaluated towards the specific platform, rather than optimized from a holistic point of view. In the worst case, the customizations are not necessary from a performance perspective and may even decrease customer value. In all cases, they become a barrier for supply chain and aftermarket efficiency improvements that would benefit from greater commonality

High-Level Product Architecture and Shared Modular Systems

Some leading companies have taken it to the next level by defining a wide-scope product architecture. They have a  system of modular systems that can be shared across multiple product platforms. Actually, the product architecture is a configurable system of modular systems, enabling massive benefits for scale and flexibility.

One example of such a leading company is Volkswagen Group (VW), the world’s largest auto manufacturer. VW has consistently pushed the boundaries of product platforms and architecture, marking the direction of the whole industry. I often use them as an example of all sort of benefits connected to modular systems. In this blog post I will use VW to explain the concept of high-level product architecture and shared modular systems.

1997 Volkswagen Golf

1997 Volkswagen Golf

In the early 1990’s VW pioneered the use of shared platforms in the auto industry. VW had acquired AUDI in the mid 1960’s, SEAT in 1986 and SKODA in 1991 and was manufacturing more than 20 different car models. By sharing the base platform between multiple models and brands, economies of scale could be reached for component such as drivelines, interiors and chassis. Over time, the approach was criticized for limiting the ability to adapt the product to different brand images. This hurts the status of premium brands, but also increases the risk of not reaching low enough cost levels for value brands.

2011 Volkswagen Golf

2011 Volkswagen Golf

The second generation of VW’s platform concept came in the mid 2000’s. There is a clear switch from standardization to modularization, enabling wider platforms with increased economies of scale. All Audi production cars were now being built from the same platform – a dream for the supply chain. They enabled huge increases in efficiency, fewer assembly lines and greater purchasing leverage.

2017 Volkswagen Golf

2017 Volkswagen Golf

One decade later, mid 2010’s, the bomb dropped, and it is called MQB (german for Modularer QuerBaukasten, roughly translated as Modular Transversal Engine Building System). VW was now aiming to build cars of practically any size from the same product platform. In the end of 2020, the MQB platform encompasses more than 80% of the VW production volume.

A Modular System does not have to span a product End-to-End

I will use Volkswagen to explain what is a product architecture, what is a modular system and how modules relate to both concepts. As already mentioned, I define modular product architecture, as a system of modular systems that is configured on all levels. Here, I illustrate it in relation to an end-to-end-product, showing that each modular system spans only a portion of the full product:

To date, VW has a number of (Modulare Baukästen or Modular Building Systems.) They have MQB, as already mentioned, but also MLB for longitudinal engines and MMB for mid-engine cars. For electric drivelines, we have the MEB and PPE platforms. In actuality, these additional platforms only exist because VW has many premium, high-performance cars in their portfolio, especially under the Porsche and Audi brands.

As mentioned earlier, the bulk of VW’s volume today is covered by MQB. What is especially interesting to note is that this platform and all of the others are instances of the same configurable product architecture. What I mean is that the different platforms can be built by the same underlying configurable modular systems. To explain this concept, I will use the electric MEB platform:

The MEB is VW group’s first all-electric platform, built completely around the electric drivetrain. Obviously, one of the most important parts of any battery-powered electric platform is the battery. And here comes the point… the battery is actually a modular system of its own. A modular system that can be shared with the other electric platforms, including the PPE for premium high-performance electric cars.

The important factors for configuring a battery are how much space you have at hand and how much energy you need to store. If the different platforms can share the same high-voltage interface and battery footprint logic, there is no reason why this modular system could not be shared.

This is a modular system that can be configured to deliver different levels of battery capacity, charging performance and available footprint. Many of the modules inside the system can be standardized for an enormous volume consolidation. This includes, for example, the cell module, cell management controller and high voltage connector. It creates huge benefit when setting up the new battery supply chain. VW has even hinted they want to sell their electric platform to other car makers, further expanding the consolidated volumes and making the investments in development and supply chain even more profitable.

Shared Modular Systems

To add clarity, let me put some words from the VW Electric car platforms on the boxes in the earlier modular product architecture illustration. This is only illustrative, not facts:

Finally, you see modularity on different levels and an extremely systematic approach that can be leveraged across the functions of the company, e.g. Production, Strategic Product Planning, and Sales.

Product architecture and shared Modular Systems in other industries

The very same thinking can be applied in many other product segments in both industrial and consumer goods: appliances, machinery, equipment, etc.

For example, in the home appliance industry the tradition is to see different types of appliances as different modular systems. They would say that there is one modular system for washing machines and another modular system for dryers. While this makes sense from a functional perspective, it lacks the perspective of industrial design and production.

Shared styling and user interface across product types

Since the washers and dryers are typically used in combination and located together in our homes, you clearly want them to have a common design for both the aesthetics and the user interface. From a modular system standpoint, it makes a lot more sense to see the front panel and user interface as a shared modular system rather than parts that must be aligned within the washer and dryer modular systems. This way, you can introduce updates to both the styling and user interface simultaneously across the two product lines. This also matches the expectations for customers who are looking for consistency in the look and operation.

Flexible line assembly

A driving factor in the home appliance industry, just as in the car industry, is to produce many products on the same flexible assembly lines while keeping them efficient. An enabler for this is the harmonization of the approach to structural design, enabling the use of the same tools, assembly order, etc.

Let’s say that you want to produce washers and dryers on the same assembly line. This would be a clear motivation to include them in the same product architecture, sharing as many of the underlying module systems and interfaces between them as possible.

Using the same way of illustrating the product architecture for washers and dryersA shared system for control and communication could also be used across other home appliance products, including hardware and software for IoT, controls, etc.

Final Words

In this blog post I have defined product architecture as a system of modular systems. To me, this is one of the most important realizations a company must have to enable the maximum efficiency of modularization. In my previous post, What makes a Good Modular System, I have suggested a schematic model to understand how to scope profitable modular systems. I will soon continue this series of blogs with a discussion around how to design a winning modular system based on customer values, applications, and supply chain strategy.

Why Modular Design?

AUTHOR

Tobias Martin

Vice President & Partner

 

Volkswagen pictures courtesy of Volkswagen Group AG.

Blog

What Makes a Good Modular System?

By Tobias Martin

INTRODUCTION

A good modular system balances the scope of the system and its lifespan with the effort to create it. In this post, I will suggest a schematic metric that explains the value over time of such a modular system. I will also explain how this schematic metric can support decision making around modular systems, and I will conclude with an example of a company that learned how to balance, the hard way.

What is a Modular System?

A modular system is a collection of building blocks that can be configured in different ways, adapting for different customer needs. Over time, some modules will be developed to serve new purposes or to improve performance in some aspect. Optimization and cost-cutting can be done within modules without the typical ripple effect throughout the product and, when done well, without reducing the value to customers. Many companies use modularization as a tool to reduce product complexity or to make the customer order process more efficient by configuring-to-order rather than engineering-to-order.

When done successfully, the benefits of using such a system are significant. Everyone who does work related to the products will benefit. The most obvious benefits lie within development, where engineers will design and maintain fewer components. We see such benefits though the value chain – from sales, through the supply chain and into the after-market.

Just as there are great examples of modular systems, there are also bad examples, including modular systems that focus on one aspect of efficiency, ignoring the others. For example, the standardizing of platforms across brands to decrease supply chain complexity while neglecting the impact on customer value as brands become the same products with different labels. Another example is creating a flexible system to reduce complexity for an existing assortment of products while failing to take customer-driven future developments into account. These approaches can create a system that is flexible, but for the wrong things.

This leads to the question: how can you tell a good modular system from a not so good modular system?

The Scope Factor

Many companies have turned to modular design for their product platforms as a solution for coping with ever-increasing complexity in their product offering. While the promise of complexity reduction, consolidated volumes and supply chain efficiency coupled with increased flexibility is very attractive, many companies still face common issues:

  • Improvements only span a small portion of the complete portfolio, making it hard to implement broader improvements in complexity and supply chain
  • Number of platforms increases over time
  • Subsystems that could be shared across several platforms are not captured

The fundamental driver behind working with modular products is to enable high flexibility while reducing the needed complexity – Do more with less. This sounds easy in theory, however it proves to be hard in practice.

A wider scope (i.e. a more flexible modular system) means more customers and more volumes are consolidated in the modular system. However, there’s a risk that we go too wide in the same modular system, sacrificing performance or cost with products that have completely different needs.

The Lifespan Factor

what makes a good modular systemLet’s recognize that modular system development comes with a cost. Developing the system is inherently more costly than developing a single product. It takes time to consider all possible products to be included in the system. Spending this time up-front pays off over time by making all the subsequent launches less resource and time consuming.

 

Once we have developed and implemented the system, maximum leverage is gained by using it as much as possible. You want more volume to carry the development cost, more volume to purchase and more volume to manufacture efficiently. Simply, volume on a platform can be increased in two ways: scope flexibility and change robustness. With the two, you can create many products for a long time.

The Effort Factor

While the above discuss explains the benefits of a modular system, we must also understand the effort needed to create and maintain the modular system. The greater the complexity and effort; the more volume is required for profitability. Many companies use the count of unique components, also known as part numbers, as a measure of complexity. To understand the effort to create and maintain a modular system, we use the average part number count over the life of the modular system. With this measure of effort, we can formulate an equation that explains the profitability of the modular system.

Profitability of a Modular System

Profitability is a concept that compares the net outcome of something with the effort of doing it. Given the factors we have already discussed, we can define the profitability of the modular system:

Profitability of a Modular System

 

With this simple model in mind, it is easy to understand that you should think twice before making these three decisions:

  • Reducing the scope of a platform development project
  • Face-lifting only parts of a platform, practically splitting it in two platforms of the same volume with an increase in total part number count (i.e. effort)
  • Developing a platform without having a long-term perspective of changing requirements

 

Reducing the scope of a platform development project

I often hear about projects that are reduced in scope with the purpose of enabling a shorter time-to-market. While time-to-market is a critical factor, I would argue that in many cases the scope reduction is not the best decision. It may be a short-term win, but it is likely a mid-term loss.

In one example, I have seen the increased scope of developing the platform add approximately three months to the initial six-month project. Each subsequent project based on the platform saved two months. Look at what happens:

TTM

Note that the first two projects are assuredly launched later in the wider-scope alternative. By spending the extra three months with front-loading the first project, time and resources were saved on projects 3, 4, and into the future. The longer the platform lifespan – the more time-to-market (TTM) benefit we get!

Since you are aiming at covering a wide scope with one system, you should be very careful about standardizing with the high-performance products. While a seemingly simple solution to commonality, it will destroy the profit margin for less demanding products. Standardization, in this case, will reduce the scope of the platform, even if you try to sell the standardized product to a wider range of customers.

Face-lifting Only Parts of a Platform

This item is related to the previous one but comes from another angle. Consider a platform that has been running for some time and that needs an upgrade from Technology A to Technology B. However, you must first create a specification for the whole platform to use Technology B. To cut the time-to-market of this project, you reduce the scope so that you are only upgrading the high runners. What happens? One platform becomes two! You can’t phase out the old platform because it includes products that are crucial to completing your portfolio. Therefore, you must spend the effort of maintaining and producing two platforms rather than one. Until you replace both these platforms with a complete, new generation platform, you are stuck. If you don’t, you’re caught in a spiral of more and more platforms – and fewer and fewer resources, putting even more focus on reducing the scope of development projects because of resource constraints!

Developing a platform without a long-term perspective of changing requirements

Determining the requirements that exist today is often not that difficult. Look at your existing portfolio, your competitors’ portfolios and ask some key customers, and you are likely 95% there. It is harder to foresee the future, but it is the key to increasing the lifespan of the platform. How can we be prepared for change?

While random changes are problematic, this is often not the case. By understanding the actual needs of your customers, having a solid strategy for the customers you want to win and having a good technical roadmap, you can foresee or even lead the change – at least many parts of it. The more we can do to isolate change to specific parts of the product, the longer the life of the platform and the more profitable it will be. 

A great example of a Modular System

One of the best examples of a modular system is the Volkswagen Group cars. There is both incredible flexibility of the system, and there is a clear learning and improvement path over a long period of time. Volkswagen has shown strong commitment and has improved by learning over time, which is now paying off in the third generation of their modular system.

modular system

                                                                              The Volkswagen Group MQB Modular System has a very wide scope

Today, Volkswagen modular systems span the whole range of passenger cars. They are only defined by differences in fundamental structural design principles, including electric (MEB, PPE platforms) and internal combustion (MQB, MLB platforms) drive lines. Innovations save more than $3 billion annually1. In 2020, the MQB platform consolidates more than 80% of Volkswagen Group’s total production volume – almost 11 million cars. This MQB platform was launched in 2012, so it’s already 8 years old! Only time will tell how long it will live. It is exciting to think of the MQB platform and its siblings as something even bigger, where multiple modular systems are made from sub-systems that can be shared across the modular systems. This will be covered in a future blog post. 

To achieve this great platform, Volkswagen started working with modular systems in 1993. At this time, the called it platforms. In order to reach scale effects and supply chain efficiencies, Volkswagen standardized the 20 car models they had into 5 common platforms based on car size. The A‑platform, for example, was created for cars of the same size such as Audi A3, Audi TT, Volkswagen Golf, Seat León, and Skoda Octavia.

This A-platform is a clear example of a poor modular system. Why? Because standardization was used to reduce complexity instead of modularization to reach flexibility. Since so much of the actual performance of the cars was tied to the standardized platform, it became much harder for the customer to see and feel the differences between the different models.

Fourth generation Golf, based the common A-platform

 This meant that many of the brand characteristics were lost. What happens when an Audi customer understands that she can get a very similar car for half the price with the Seat brand? Either she buys the cheaper brand, or – if the premium brand is a purchase driving factor – she visits the competing premium brand instead. Explained with the model for the profitability of a modular system, Volkswagen reduced the scope of the platform but still used the narrower scope to fulfil the needs of a wide-scope market.

This almost 30-year evolution of working with modular systems at Volkswagen is a great example of focus and long-term commitment to this strategy. By continuously improving on the execution, excellence has been reached. If you are interested to read more on this topic I suggest that you check out our insight paper on Why Modular Design, where we compare traditional product design with modular design. 

 
Why Modular Design?
AUTHOR

Tobias Martin

Vice President & Partner

 
1Kotabe, M., & Helsen, K. (2020). Global Marketing Management. John Wiley & Sons
Volkswagen pictures courtesy of Volkswagen Group AG.
NEWS

MB Collaborations Joins Modular Management

GERMANY
FRANKFURT, GERMANY

More Advantages for Your Product Architecture

MB Collaborations has joined Modular Management. Together we can provide even better support for the development of your modular product architecture.

Modular Management is the world’s leading consultancy for the creation and governance of modular and configurable product architectures. Let’s look at the added value this means for you, not least in terms of:
  • Linking corporate strategy to products and business results
  • Providing business cases for modularization, including complexity costs
  • Identifying customer needs and market segments as a prerequisite for your modular product strategy
  • Connecting your organization with configurable product architectures that are documented and optimized with PALMA® software.
Here you’ll find the MB Collaborations blog, including additional topics related to modularization, configuration and how to accelerate value creation.

World's Leading Consultancy in Modularization and Configuration

Modular Management has its roots in Stockholm, Sweden, and is internationally recognized as market leader for the development and governance of modular and configurable product architectures.

Founded in 1996, the company has branches in Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States, and has successfully completed more than 120 modularization and configuration projects in industries ranging from manufacturing, household appliances, transport, power, construction and telecom.

In addition to physical products, modularization is equally applicable to software and services. For example, Modular Management has experience in housing, including the configuration logic for interior design and service concepts for insurance, leasing and financing.

MB Collaborations has had contact with Modular Management for a long time and the collaboration agreement was formalized in December 2019. This means more clients in Germany can now access world-leading experience and expertise, including the 20 methods and 70 tools supported by PALMA® software.

Most executives are aware of the need for modularization. In practice, however, corporate strategy is often vaguely linked – if at all – to the products that drive results.

Markus Lotz, Dr.-Ing.
Managing Director, Modular Management Germany

Everything Needs to be Connected – Including Corporate Strategy, Products and Results

In response to the challenges and opportunities presented by globalization, most executives are aware of the need for modularization. In practice, however, corporate strategy is often vaguely linked – if at all – to the products that drive results.

While there are many instruments, tools and KPIs for governing corporate strategy, a strong link to product development programs is often missing. If the contribution of modular products to corporate strategy is unknown, control over modularization programs is limited and it’s hard to govern product development.

How can this be remedied?

In order to build a bridge between strategy, products and results, the strategic goals of an organization can be broken down into three axes: operational excellence, customer intimacy and product leadership.

First step is to assign strategic goals and KPIs to each axis.

Next, look at the contribution of a modular product architecture to strategic corporate goals and quantify this to ensure that your architecture is profitable.

More insight into strategic goals is available here.

Calculate the Potential of Modularization – Quantify Direct and Indirect Costs

For product development to be profitable, you have to calculate direct and indirect costs.

Theoreticians sometimes claim that the advantages of a modular system cannot be quantified or calculated, but this is not the case. In practice, calculation is both possible and necessary.

In addition to a well-founded method for calculating complexity costs, it takes an experienced hand to ensure that the expected benefits of a product architecture are realized.

The Modular Strategy and Potential Analysis (MASP™) has been developed and continuously improved by Modular Management since the 1990’s. MSAP reveals how you can save on direct and indirect costs, improve delivery times and increase sales in the specific context of your business.

Companies in German-speaking countries tend to focus more on cost. Improved modular products, however, also have significant positive effects in terms of sales. Top-line benefits are driven, for example, by new releases, more variants and improved time to market.

A detailed analysis provides the decision support needed for how to develop your product architecture; clarifying, for example, how many variants (including components) represent the optimum number for your modular system and your markets?

Without a stable analysis, you could end up with a technical and functional modular system that does not deliver the expected benefits.

So why is a lack of analysis relatively common?

Experience suggests that it’s usually due to a lack of transparency on what drives direct and complexity costs. For example, expected savings in new product development are often outweighed by added costs in manufacturing or maintenance. Before you embark on improving your product assortment, make sure all costs are visible.

MSAP

What do Customers Really Care About? Real Customer Needs are a Prerequisite for Your Product Strategy

A clear product strategy is a prerequisite for the development of a successful modular product architecture, and this strategy should be built on customer-oriented market analysis and segmentation. You need to understand challenges, tasks, applications and functionalities from the customer’s point of view and adapt a solution-neutral approach.

There is an overhanging risk, however, that engineering companies with a proud history of technical development specify solutions that are not in line with real customer needs, and this restricts innovation.

Despite marketing organizations and product managers, market analysis is often demographic- or behavior-based. And because modular product development is based on strategy – not adaptations or range extensions – customer-oriented market segmentation becomes a key success factor.

It is virtually impossible to successfully position different product models/variants if you and your development department are unaware of which customer values drive buying decisions. Understanding key product properties per segment is also necessary to avoid the over-specification of components.

If you are on top of your market segments, customer values and product properties, a modular product architecture can meet customer needs and secure profitability.

Market

Connect Your Organization with the Right Software

Modularization is a means, not a goal, and product architecture development can only be successful if it’s based on strategy and firmly anchored in your entire organization. To achieve this you have to work cross-functionally and use data to drive development.

A large amount of information is generated in modularization projects – data that connects strategic goals to customer needs to module variants and product configurations. Profitability simulations are particularly important before you develop solutions and success depends upon your data model being up to date. With a stable, shared and updated data model you can connect your organization, govern architectures over their lifecycle and secure profitability.

PALMA® supports all the phases of modular product development, including market segmentation and customer needs, interface definition and variant optimization. You can also align technical and sales configurators thanks to a consistent configuration logic and share the information model with all other IT systems. Thanks to tried and tested APIs, PALMA® seamlessly connects to PDM/PLM, ERP and CPQ systems.

PALMA® is cloud-based strategic software for the creation, documentation, configuration and governance of modular product architectures – and PALMA® supports you regardless of modularization approach.

Modular Management and MB Collaborations look forward to supporting your product architecture development in 2020.

CONTACT
Markus Lotz
MARKUS LOTZ, DR.-ING.

PALMA® Software

This is the world-class solution for product management.

Standing for Product Assortment Lifecycle Management, PALMA is cloud-based strategic software to create, document and govern modular product architectures. With this unique structured approach you can design and document product architectures. You can also connect enterprise systems and secure business goals.

Built on an in-memory database platform, PALMA is faster and more capable than anything else on the market, so you can create configuration rules without coding, govern product architecture life cycles and create a business advantage.

HOT TOPIC

Software
Modularity

By Karl Bråtegren

SOFTWARE

How to Avoid Roadblocks?

Karl Bråtegren, Senior Manager at Modular Management in Stockholm, shares some thoughts on software modularity and how to avoid roadblocks.

KARL ON ONE OF HIS FAVORITE TOPICS

What is Software Modularity?

Software modularity is the decomposition of a program into smaller programs with standardized interfaces.

Microservices is a hot trend right now, and it’s essentially about small modules that are built into a whole software system. Spotify and Netflix talk about how they work with microservice architectures, and before this there was a similar trend called Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) that targeted bigger modules.

Software modularity pretty much shares the same definitions as hardware modularity, with strategically- and functionally-clean modules that are driven by customer needs and share standardized interfaces. You basically allocate different functions to software modules and then implement them in source code.

A common way of referring to interfaces between software modules is Application Program Interfaces (APIs). For example, Google and PALMA expose APIs to the external world, and when you create software modules it’s like creating APIs within the product.

Why is This a Hot Topic?

The main driver is that software is rapidly becoming a bigger part of many products.

Software is delivering on the most important customer values and companies need to be much faster in development to stay ahead of competition. With modularity you can secure product leadership with separate modules that can be developed quickly without being locked into a complex web of other software functions. Basically, you can avoid roadblocks.

A second driver is ‘hardware portability’, a topic that many clients are looking at right now.

Hardware portability means that you want to be able to move the software solution from one hardware to another, enabling you to easily change hardware supplier. Electronics like PCBs, for example, can reach end-of-life quickly and you need to replace them. You also want to take advantage of better and cheaper hardware when it becomes available. If you have inflexible, over-dimensioned software that doesn’t scale well with the hardware, it makes it very hard to move the solution to a lower performance piece of hardware. With the right modules in place, you can isolate hardware impact to specific modules and enable hardware scalability and portability.

A third driver is that you can’t do everything on your own.

You want to make use of open source and leverage third-party specialist expertise. It’s much easier to plug in third-party software, for example navigation and vision processing, into a modular architecture than a monolithic one. You would in this case aim to create modules with the aim to source them from a strategic partner.

What’s Your Personal Experience of This?

We’ve recent client experience, but an older example is when I worked as Product Manager at Siemens Mobile Networks. This was back in the old days of Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) in mobiles and slow networks.

At Siemens we didn’t have a WAP proxy to sell to operators and wanted to launch our own product. What we did was to partner with an American company that had a proxy server with compression technology, and they then made their APIs available to us. Using these APIs we could develop services aimed at the cell phone service providers and make a viable and attractive solution. We also discovered that we needed a WAP protocol stack, so we found a Finnish company with a commercially available WAP-stack that we could plug into.

This is a practical application of our strategic sourcing driver from the Module Indication Matrix (MIM), but at Siemens we didn’t think much about it back then. We just bumped into challenges that had to be solved and found a way to solve them with strategic partners.

What are the Opportunities for Companies?

There are many reasons to invest in software modularity, but it’s basically about being fast and flexible. By developing new features faster, and more frequently, you can provide new software and hardware products that better meet customer needs.

You can also work with the continuous release of new features, while maintaining quality and not putting product reliability at risk. In an integrated or monolithic architecture, there’s a risk that when you introduce a new feature update the whole product goes down. If it’s a robot, for example, this means the whole line stops. Even if the update feature is quite small, like a nice new Graphical User Interface (GU), customers will be scared – or won’t even dare – to update if it’s in a big monolithic package. This has been a real issue and in some cases it still is.

Without a flexible, modular software you have a slower development pace, more bugs, more testing issues and more time to release. You’re also forced to live with old and expensive hardware and run end-of-life hardware projects, often in panic mode.

MONOLITHIC AND MODULAR DEVELOPMENT HIGHWAYS

What is Modular Management Able to Offer?

We’re able to offer a unique approach in Modular Function Deployment® (MFD) which solves many of the challenges mentioned earlier.

I haven’t seen any other structured approach that explains how you should think if you want to move to microservices or a more modular software architecture. There are rules of thumb in the software world, like separation of concerns, but there is no real method like the one we have.

MFD is unique because it takes customer values into account. This is extra important for software, because for a lot of modules you don’t need parallel variants of the source code, you just need to increase speed in delivering on certain customer values. In other words, you need to rapidly bring out new versions of these modules.

With MFD you can also consider company strategy up front, for example hardware portability, strategic sourcing, carry over and technical specification. One scenario is that when you offer integration capabilities to the external world you may need different protocol stacks. An example of this is to offer many different industrial Fieldbuses (ProfiNet, EtheNnet/IP, DeviceNet…). They will typically come with their own variants of the code. This is an example of when we would apply technical specification as a strategic driver. In the end, this could be enough reason to create a module for the Fieldbuses.

Many of our clients typically have good technical software architects. Architecture is a skill that’s important when you work with software because it’s so abstract. You don’t have brackets and pumps to touch and feel, so software architects are typically comfortable in talking in functions and working with architecture diagrams. But they often overlook customer values and strategies, or at least don’t have a systematic method to approach these critical drivers and how to reflect them in the architecture.

THE CUSTOMER-CENTRIC METHOD FOR PRODUCT ARCHITECTURE CREATION: MODULAR FUNCTIONAL DEPLOYMENT (MFD)

Any Final Thoughts?

I’ve heard software architects say that it’s more difficult to describe exactly what you mean when it comes to software, just because it’s so abstract. You also have a very high degree of freedom in implementation since you’re not bound by physics.

This level of freedom makes it easier to circumvent the architecture during implementation, so it’s always important to go back to why you defined a module and make sure it’s implemented accordingly. That’s where we come in. 

For more information, contact me via the button below.

CASE

As software architecture can easily be circumvented by the coders, it is important to repeatedly go back and look at the reasons why certain functions were grouped into modules.

We have done software modularity before, but this time we factored in customer values and strategy. I believe this makes our new architecture much stronger.

Roger Kulläng
Global Software Solution Architect ABB Robotics
SOLUTION
MODULAR MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST

There are many reasons to invest in software modularity, but it’s basically about being fast and flexible. By developing new features faster and more frequently, you can provide new software and hardware products that better meet customer needs.

Karl Bråtegren
Senior Manager
Modular Management

PALMA®

This is the world-class solution for product management.

Standing for Product Assortment Lifecycle Management, PALMA is cloud-based strategic software to create, document and govern modular product architectures. With this unique structured approach you can design and document product architectures. You can also connect enterprise systems and secure business goals.

Built on an in-memory database platform, PALMA is faster and more capable than anything else on the market, so you can create configuration rules without coding, govern product architecture life cycles and create a business advantage.

INTERVIEW

How to Manage Innovation?

NIKLAS GUSTAFSSON, KTH EXECUTIVE SCHOOL
NEWS

KTH Niklas on Innovation

We got the opportunity to speak with Niklas Gustafsson, Program Director at the KTH Executive School in Stockholm. Here’s what he had to say on innovation and business transformation.

You focus on innovation management, why?

I think innovation sums up a lot of the challenges we’re seeing today. In this day and age we’re witnessing the introduction of a lot of new technologies and completely new product and service offerings.

We see this in the consumer business, driven by the new tech coming out of Silicon Valley, but it’s also happening in traditional industries. Big changes are under way, from combustion to electric engines, AI, 5G changing the frontiers of telecom, financial blockchains and new sensors enabling the internet of things. All these innovations are going to transform industries of today into something new.

The question is how companies can manage transformation? And this is where innovation management is a very good tool.

What are the main challenges facing companies today?

I think the biggest challenge is to adapt to the new reality that’s coming, especially for manufacturing companies.

There are so many shifts going on at the same time, in technology, business models and internationalization. A lot is being driven by new technology, but technology itself is not the solution. It’s how you convert technology into a viable business model.

For example, the electrification that’s ongoing in the truck and automotive industry is going to put an end to traditional business models and old ways of thinking.

What are the main opportunities?

If you can adapt, innovative technology presents tremendous business opportunities. I think the future looks very good for companies that are able to transform, adapt and re-educate their personnel.

It’s going to be much tougher for traditional companies that can’t adapt fast enough, which in turn presents opportunities for new companies with interesting and exciting new solutions. Innovative start-ups have the chance to completely transform traditional industries, faster than ever before.

We’ve seen this in Sweden in the music industry, where streaming capabilities have created big new companies. Books is another, where big new companies are buying up older ones.

And it’s not just Silicon Valley type start-ups. The airline industry, for example, is changing to meet new environmental demands, and the shipping industry is also going to have to make big changes. These changes will demand innovative thinking.

Another example is healthcare, where the opportunities are enormous, and we’ll need innovation in legislation too. Legislation that fits the old world won’t always fit the new.

What advice would you give to companies?

Fill up on knowledge. Refill. Understand theory, research, as well as practice. 

I give the same advice to academia. Go out, talk, listen and really understand the companies that are out there, and their problems. There’s a balance at this meeting point of theory and practice, and if you find it you’re in a good position to take on technical innovation and business model transformation.

What's the best thing about your job?

I get to meet a lot of interesting people, ideas and questions. It’s where theory and practice meet.

Any links you'd like to share?

I like trying to understand ideas and think one of the best podcasts right now is called Hidden Brain (external link).

Thanks Niklas.

INTERVIEW

What I like most about my job is that I get to meet a lot of interesting people, ideas and questions. It’s where theory and practice meet.

Niklas Gustafsson
KTH Executive School
Full Stack Developer
CAREERS

Full Stack Developer

OPEN POSITION
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Full Stack Developer

Curious to find out more?

PALMA® Software is a cloud-based solution to create, document and govern modular product architectures. This strategic software enables companies to take control of their product architecture, govern customization and secure business goals.

PALMA is built on an in-memory NewSQL database and integrated web server. A high level of performance is required for rich and proprietary product information models, and we use the latest web technology to enable top performance for the end user. PALMA is a SaaS solution.

You’ll be working as part of the development team in central Stockholm. Since we’re growing, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to learn and influence how things are done. If you’re interested in delivering quality software services – well designed for usability, maintainability and stability – we are too. We also believe in staying ahead of the competition through innovation and excellence on all levels. This includes how we define and implement services; and how we support each other as individuals and as a team.

Skills and Experience?

Are you a full stack developer, junior or senior? 

This position could well suit you if you’re curious about – and have skills in – C#, .NET, .NET Core, JavaScript, HTML5, Polymer, web components, D3.js, HTML5 canvas, WebGL, WebAssembly, Rust, backend and database technologies, AWS or similar relevant technologies.

How to Apply?

Please e-mail your complete application with a (i) short cover letter and (ii) condensed CV, preferably not more than one page each, to jakob.asell@modularmanagement.com. Please apply as soon as you can, because we’ll be interviewing candidates continuously, and just contact me with any questions.

About

Companies across the globe have worked with Modular Management to create and apply market-driven modular product platforms, in industries as varied as home appliances, industrial products, telecom, and construction equipment.

By implementing this approach, clients have achieved dramatic improvements in business performance through increased speed and efficiency, while simultaneously expanding the breadth of products offered to the market.

Using proven methods and PALMA®, a unique product architecture lifecycle management software, we partner with client resources to deploy a set of innovative tools and structured processes. Together we uncover and exploit the economic potential of product architecture that lies within markets, products, technologies, operations and support systems.

Modular Management was founded 1996 in Stockholm.

CONTACT

Jakob Åsell

NEWS, MARCH 2019

Tusen tack

THAT’S ONE THOUSAND THANKS IN SWEDISH
NEWS

1000 LinkedIn Followers

Many thanks to all of you who follow Modular Management on LinkedIn

One thousand followers is a record for us.

We believe that configurable product architectures are key to bridging strategy and results. Not only do they create value for customers, they help companies solve many challenges, including how to speed up innovation, connect people, data and products, and reduce complexity. Something worth sharing.

Our goal with LinkedIn is to publish relevant material reasonably often, not least regarding who we are, what we do and why we do it. It’s also a key channel for recruiting senior consultants and young professionals from around the world. Don’t hesitate to email if you’re curious to find out more about what a career at Modular Management looks like. 

Above all, LinkedIn is a channel for us to learn from you. So one thousand thanks, or tusen tack as we say in Swedish.

INSIGHT

How to Design for Agile Line Production?

BY MODULAR MANAGEMENT

Agile production and mass customization are powerful concepts that line producers often find hard to realize. But it is possible.

Download

How to Guide - Agile Line Production

Agile production and mass customization are powerful concepts that line producers often find hard to realize.

Many struggle to simultaneously: 

  • Ensure lean, operational excellence.
  • Innovate and renew products fast enough to stay at the forefront of global competition.
  • Offer the product variance and uniqueness needed to appeal to many customers.

So, how can you make mass customized products and secure business fundamentals? How can you design for agile line production? Download our comprehensive guide and learn from real cases.

Alex Ginsburg

Co-AUTHOR

Magnus Gyllenskepp

CO-AUTHOR
Customers want innovative products, fast. Companies want to make customers happy and be 21st century lean. So how does all that work? Modular Management delivers clarity, performance and customer centricity so clients can reduce complexity and accelerate value creation.

DOWNLOAD GUIDE

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