What is the Product Process Matrix and How to Make it?

Product Process Matrix

The workflow can become unstructured and chaotic without exemplary leadership as deadlines loom. It feels like there’s no way you’ll make it. Organizing processes in the most efficient way is an integral part of the Lean and continuous improvement process. 

Firms have developed specific tools and methods to improve their efficiency and organize their workflow over time. The Product-Process Matrix is one of them, and we’ll go over it in detail in this article.

What Is the Product Process Matrix?

The product-process matrix combines the product lifecycle. It includes all parts of the product development process. The matrix evolves toward a more cost-effective and productive standardized structure.

Robert H. Hayes and Steven C. Wheelwright created the product-process matrix. The Hayes-Wheelwright Matrix is the name of the matrix. It offers businesses a method to measure the progress of a product. 

It is linked processes and analyzes the fit between specific product orientation and its associated operations. The Harvard Business Review first published the article in 1979.

Product Process Matrix Stages

There are four main stages in the Hayes-Wheelwright matrix. The production process is more flexible in the first stage, but the associated expenses are higher. However, the manufacturing process has become more standardized, mechanized, automated, less flexible, and cost-effective by the fourth stage.

Job Shop:

If your company falls into the job shop category, you most likely manufacture many things in small quantities. Because you are generating a low volume, this provides flexibility in your personnel and equipment. 

On the other hand, the commodities created are typically one-of-a-kind items. It necessitates customization, direct engagement with clients, and high manufacturing skills.

Although the job shop method allows for flexibility and innovation, there is little to no repetition. Without the required resources and skills to make them suitable, it leads to inaccuracy and long manufacturing periods.

Suppose a manufacturer damaged a significant cog on an obsolete (i.e., replacement parts are no longer viable). But a still usable machine, they would take it to a machine shop and have a new one made from scratch. This machine shop (together with the tool and die shops) is probably the most well-known example of a manufacturing job shop. 

A job shop creates one-of-a-kind products. Typically, these products are personal and necessitate the job shop’s interpretation of the customer’s design and specifications, which requires a high level of ability and experience. 

Following the assignment’s design, one or a small group of qualified individuals take on the task. They are often in charge of selecting how to proceed.

Batch:

A batch process can produce more goods than a job shop. Still, the volume per good is insufficient to justify dedicated equipment. 

It allows for a little more efficiency because you group certain parts in one process. However, it is still at a low volume.

The repetition creates a smoother flow in the work process, but it is still not a connected process.

Because the throughput is higher than in a job shop, many procedures can be repeated, resulting in a considerably smoother flow of work-in-process throughout the facility. 

While the flow is improved, the task is still jumbledly distributed among the various machine groups throughout the shop. You can describe this flow as disconnected or intermittent.

Printing and machine shops with contracts for large amounts of a product are examples of batch processing operations. 

Examples of services that use batches include certain offices (handling orders in batches). Furthermore, medical procedures, university classes (how many classes have just one student? ), and food production are great examples.

Line:

An assembly line is a method of producing highly similar things repetitively. Workstations ensure that products pass through properly, allowing for the most efficient production of goods. 

This standardization allows for easy management and oversight of the process. Yet, there is little to no flexibility or variability in the process or result. Furthermore, it enables the company to make things in large quantities in a short period.

Continuous Flow:

Continuous flow processes necessitate specific equipment to function constantly. If your product variety is minimal, you must make it in large quantities. The advantage here is that it is the most efficient and standardizes the process. This way, the process becomes more straightforward for maintaining standards. 

The drawback here is it does not allow for product customization or flexibility. Establishing and repairing gear could also be expensive when it breaks, resulting in long downtimes and output gaps.

How to Make a Product Process Matrix?

Designing a Product-Process Matrix is a hands-on task that necessitates the participation of a group. To create a PPM, project managers should follow the procedures below.

To begin, decide what you want to learn about or what problem you want to solve. After that, put together the team, remembering to include frontline workers. 

Including frontline workers allows them to contribute to the solution by leveraging their process knowledge to identify and resolve operational difficulties.

Then, establish the high-level process phases for the business entity or the project. It is vital to prioritize process steps in order of inflow, with downstream activities placed last. The process steps closer to the client are known as downstream phases. Then, list the process steps across the top of the matrix.

After that, make a note of and make a list of items, services, or a flow of information. You can capture the roles or people engaged in creating the products or providing the service. This information can be beneficial when examining process errors or improvement areas. List each product or service along the matrix’s side.

Lastly, determine which items or services are linked to each processing step and mark them. Sort your things and services into “families” based on their process flow similarities. Other variables, such as processing time per unit, volume, or output, may be included in the matrix.

The inspiration for this model is from classic trade-offs, and it is evident in a single production facility. 

However, advances in operations flexibility due to improved technology have led some to doubt the model’s continued validity.

Need of Product Process Matrix

The product-process matrix can help a corporation better comprehend its strategic possibilities, mainly in its production. A company’s location in the matrix gets influenced by the stages of the product life cycle and the manufacturing process(es). 

The company fosters more creative thinking about organizational competence and competitive advantage.

Additionally, using the matrix is logical to include manufacturing managers in strategic planning. It allows them to better connect their prospects and decision-making with marketing and the corporate entity. It results in more accurate predictions about industry changes and the company’s relevant strategic responses.

The usage of the product-process matrix affects three areas, according to Hayes and Wheelwright: unique competence, administration, and organization.

Competence That Sets You Apart:

The resources, abilities, and organizational features that offer a company a competitive advantage are distinctive competencies. 

Specific competence is a product feature that motivates a consumer to choose it over a competitor’s equivalent offering. 

You can acknowledge distinct capabilities as cost/price, quality, adaptability, and service/time. A company can be more explicit about its specific expertise. Then, focus on a limited collection of process decisions and options and a limited number of marketing options using the product-process matrix as a framework.

There are several methods to define quality. If we define quality as dependability, lower-right organizations claim this as a unique skill. 

Relatively low enterprises would have the high volume required to swiftly detect and eliminate flaws in their product, resulting in higher end-user reliability. Yet, if we define quality as design quality, quality may be considered a possible particular competency of top enterprises.

You can also define service in a variety of ways. Companies of the upper left might claim service as a distinguishing feature based on face-to-face interaction and individualized attention.

Administration:

In general, production process economics usually favors locations along the diagonal of the product-process matrix. Companies operating on or near the diagonal projects outperform companies that use extreme off-diagonal areas. 

The strategic ramifications are self-evident. Of course, a company’s place on the matrix may shift over time, so the company must be aware of the ramifications and can deal with them effectively. 

The matrix can give you a lot of information about the effects of any planned product or process shift.

Organization:

Companies organize different operating units. This way, they can specialize in various aspects of the entire manufacturing task while maintaining overall coordination. Most businesses will use two or more procedures to create their goods or services. 

For instance, a company might utilize a batch process to create components for products assembled on assembly lines.

 It would be particularly true if the job content for component manufacture or the volume required prevented establishing a specialized line process. 

Companies may also require separate facilities for various goods or parts or divide manufacturing inside the same facility. A company can make the same products using two different processes.

Product Process Matrix Importance to Product Management

Product managers can utilize the matrix to teach their teams, stakeholders, and departments about the project’s product-process lifecycle.

Product management and leadership can identify and quantify a company’s specific ability by utilizing the matrix. (In other words, the assets and attributes offer a company a competitive advantage over its competitors.) 

To make better judgments about procedures, possibilities, and investments. Cost/price, reliability, adaptability, and service/time are distinct capabilities.

Product managers can utilize the matrix to teach their teams, stakeholders, and departments about a project’s product-process lifecycle.  

Using the matrix as a framework helps product leaders and managers. It enables them to identify and estimate a company’s distinctive competence. Also, make better-informed decisions based on processes, opportunities, and investments.

For example, suppose you are a product manager managing an implementation project from beginning to end. In that case, you may want to spend more time on research and development activities than other parts of the process.

If you manage a maintenance project for your company’s website, you might want to spend more time on user testing than other parts of the process.

The Product Process Matrix can also help teams understand their strengths within their organization’s processes. Our goal is to identify the types of work needed in which areas so that we can make better decisions.

Conclusion

Hayes and Wheelwright (1979a, 1979b, 1984) presented the product-process matrix to examine the relationships between product maturation and the methods utilized in their creation. 

Based on the matrix, it is possible to determine the trajectory of a company’s products and operations over time. The concept of product-process has a significant impact on a company’s manufacturing strategy and emphasis. Manufacturing and marketing managers are brought together in the strategy-making process by linking product and process factors.

As we discussed, there are four stages in the product-process matrix: Jobshop, Batch, Line, and Continuous-flow. Each stage has its significance and importance to play. We also discussed the importance of the product-process matrix. 

The product-process matrix is a technique for analyzing the link between the product and technology life cycles. It measures a product’s maturity.

Product-Process matrices help map the value stream to identify representative products, services, or information to include in a process. 

Using the matrix, take time to incorporate some sensory elements from customers, new and old, by mapping specific tangibles onto these very same processes. 

By further interacting with what is dear to your customers and spending time letting these things grow naturally into the product itself. You’ll build a better product that walks hand-in-hand with your end-users.

We hope this article has allowed you to get a clearer picture of the product Process matrix.
Hopefully, you are excited about implementing the steps we’ve outlined. Implementing the matrix into your product team needs to happen sooner than later for the best quality of results.

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