Companies that invest in collaborative productive development technologies can realize massive savings and efficiencies gains, says Giga Information Group Inc., a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based technology advisory firm. But organizations face the challenge of a steep initial investment, deciding which technologies to use and implementation risks, Giga notes.

Collaborative product development (CPD) technologies can help manufacturers reduce product development cycle time and shorten time to market by about 40 percent, Giga says. Other savings include a reduction in product development-related travel expenses by 50 to 80 percent, a reduction in product development-related document production and shipping costs by up to 90 percent, a cut of up to 50 percent in errors in the product development and manufacturing processes and a reduction in engineering change processing time by about 85 percent.

Manufacturers using CPD tools are able to correct errors early in the development process when they are less costly to fix, Giga says. Organizations also are able to streamline project management, improve resource utilization, reduce engineering change- order processing time, reuse design work or parts and shorten review cycles, the firm notes.

While a broad CPD system with more than 1,000 users carries a multimillion-dollar entry price tag, the technology's payback time is within a year, says Erica Rugullies, Giga director. There are system risks, however, which can increase product costs and reduce benefits, Rugullies adds. They include software failing to perform as promised, implementation problems, and employee and trading partner usage being lower than expected.

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