During the second half of 2021 we had many conversations with manufacturing professionals who are responsible for managing products throughout their lifecycle – from the 3D CAD design phase,through review, fabrication, sales and marketing, and beyond into customer usage and after-sales service. In each of these conversations we were hearing about the same problems and challenges associated with creating, distributing,and consuming the content being used to transfer essential knowledge about theproduct: Information on which the functional and commercial success of the product was dependent.
Whether it was design review, manufacturing work instructions, standard operating procedures, marketing or sales collateral, or user manuals, the same problems were surfacing time and again in our discussions.
Content was taking too long to create, was difficult to collaborate on, would often lack the necessary clarity, and was being distributed and consumed in fragmented, outdated, and sub-optimal ways.
When we began to pick at these challenges we learned more about their downstream effects. Delays, errors, and failure sappeared to be common – negative outcomes having negative impact on company performance. And we learned that external factors including distributed ecosystems, the pandemic and remote working, tribal knowledge, and a generational shift in the workforce are aggravating the problems.
It also became clear that, for a lot ofcompanies, these problems are perceived, managed – and in many cases tolerated– as issues associated with departmental content and documentation workflows.
Our wider perspective across different companies and verticals told us otherwise: Instead of a host of disconnected workflowchallenges, we saw a more systemic and connected problem across theorganization and ecosystem. We call it Product Communication Disorder.
We define Product Communication Disorder, based on what we have learned, as a company-wide problem whereby the sharing of knowledge essential to support the product throughout its lifecycle is fragmented and impaired, resulting in significant and unnecessary cost, delay,and error.
Early in 2022 we conducted some research into the US manufacturing industries in a bid to understand in more depth the true extent of this problem. The result is our new research report, Product Communication 2022, which you can access here.
The data we gathered suggests this problem is endemic, and that it is causing real damage. But there is also some reassuring evidence that manufacturing companies are looking to cure the problem, rather than simply manage the pain.
I hope you find the report interesting and we would be happy to hear any feedback you might have.