Ferro Implements Product Development System

Uses it to reduce time-to-market, improve commercial success rates for new products, track post-launch sales performance

Uses it to reduce time-to-market, improve commercial success rates for new products, track post-launch sales performance

Minneapolis and London — September 1, 2004 — Ferro Corp., a worldwide producer of electronic materials, ceramic glazes, porcelain enamel, colorants, specialty chemicals and plastics, has implemented the Sopheon Accolade new product development system within the company's Electronic Material Systems division.

Ferro said it is looking to Accolade to help it effect a 25 percent reduction in the time needed to develop products from idea to commercial launch, and increase the percentage of sales derived from new products. Implementation extends to tracking post-launch product success by linking sales data from Ferro's SAP software system to Accolade reports.

Ferro, based in Cleveland, Ohio, said that over the past two years it has been transforming its strategic focus from traditional manufacturing-based businesses to technology-driven markets such as electronics and pharmaceuticals. Among management's top priorities in leading that change have been increasing the effectiveness of portfolio management and stepping up technology investments.

In 2003, Ferro's Technology Leadership Team mandated company-wide adoption of Stage-Gate, a product-development methodology, to fuel profitable growth with innovative products and processes and leverage technical capabilities across businesses. However, large numbers of product development projects, widely dispersed teams, and varying Stage-Gate implementation approaches and adoption rates made it difficult to standardize metrics and deploy best practices.

After a competitive review of software systems, Ferro's Electronic Material Systems business unit selected Accolade based on its capacity to reinforce the Stage-Gate structure with an easy-to-use process and integrated best practices content, and also because of the speed and ease with which it can be configured and widely implemented, according to the manufacturer. Cross-functional teams at locations in California, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and the Netherlands are now using Accolade while other Ferro businesses are considering deployment of the system.

"Electronic Materials is one of Ferro's 'springboard' businesses and a focal point for corporate investments in new product development and process improvements," said Steve Florio, the Electronic Material Systems division's chief technology officer. "As one of those investments, Accolade is strategically and operationally aligned with our company-wide emphasis on Stage-Gate. We expect the system will play a significant role as we work toward our goals of reducing development cycle times and increasing our output of successful new products."

Florio added that Sopheon demonstrated a clear understanding of how its product could address Ferro's needs, including such specific requirements as being able to draw and adapt sales data from the manufacturer's SAP software system to correlate with reports being generated in Accolade.

"We have control of a product's life cycle from the time it is conceived as an idea right through to measuring its level of acceptance in the marketplace," he said. "Now we can more effectively determine the return on investment for every project that comes through our pipeline."

Aimed at enhancing process structure, encouraging adherence and providing better visibility to status information and other project-related details needed for decision-making, Ferro said its use of the Accolade system includes process modeler functionality that automates and guides the product development process with built-in best-practices, and portfolio management capabilities that allow the early identification of product winners and losers.

"Ferro's Electronic Material Systems business has established itself as a global market leader by emphasizing strategic investments in technical capabilities," said Andy Michuda, CEO of Sopheon. "The group's specific focus on process technology to remove impediments to innovation led them to Accolade, which provides an infrastructure for 'frictionless' product development by removing administrative burdens and streamlining process steps. We look forward to the opportunity to extend Accolade to other business units as Ferro continues to enhance its implementation of Stage-Gate."

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