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Risk Values Decrease for Gillette Essay

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Updated: Nov 28th, 2021

Introduction

Gillette Fusion Power Phenom is the latest product for Gillette, the release of which required the company 8 years of research and shaving innovation. Due to the complexity of the razor’s design, specifically, the parts required development and research such as the blade technology, the microchip, the protection, the battery indication, and others, the development program of such product implies several areas of risks that might occur at different stages of the development process.

Risk Identification

The risk identification phase in risk management can be defined as a process of generating “a list of all possible risks that could affect the project” (Gray and Larson, 2003), in this case, a stage of a project. In that regard, the stages, with which the gates will be associated, should be mentioned, in order to identify the processes, for which they will be reviewed. The following stages were selected for the development of the Gillette Fusion Power Phenom, due to the fact that the processes involved in Gillette Fusion Power Phenom are directly related to the stages of the development, rather than manufacturing. The stages are as follows:

  • Preliminary investigation – mainly, preliminary research of the R&D department (NREL, 2005). Considering that the period between the launch of Gillette’s technology platforms, i.e. Mach3 and Fusion, was 8 years, it can be assumed that both investigation stages, preliminary and detailed were the longest.
    • The stage’s gate – risks associated with departing from current technology and establishing the research direction
  • Detailed investigation – the stage implies developing technical specifications for the product, based on a review of the market, and a business plan for the following stages of the project
    • The stage’s gate – the review shifts the focus from the technically associated risks to the business risks and the risks involved with patenting the technologies found, i.e. the micro-pulse, the five blades, the battery indicator, etc.
  • Development – the costliest stage, through which process operations will be examined.
    • The stage’s gate – identifying industry partners and confirming the specifications of the product.
  • Validation –the processes are scaled to production and examined.
    • The stage’s gate –identification of problems that might arise, including quantity and quality assessments, equipment failures, process conditions failures, etc.

Accordingly, the risks that might arise through the identified stages and gates can be summarized in their chronological order (Lock, 2007) (See Table 1):

Gate-stage Risks Possible Cause Effect Recommended Action
1 Preliminary Investigation
  • Misunderstanding of market needs (adding blades, handling comfort, or other)
  • Failure to guide the needs in the right direction (e.g. improvement of usage, comfort, design, practical implementation, etc)
Lack of research
Small sample
The current product is still new in the market (Gillette fusion manual)
Extension of the project’s duration
Additional resources required
Competitors gaining advantage
Abandonment of product’s development
  • Extension of research
  • Marketing analysis
2 Detailed Investigation
  • The prototype is similar to an existing product
  • Technology too costly to develop for a specific need (e.g. developing the water-proof case for batteries fitting into the razor)
  • High failure rates of the prototype
  • Costs underestimation
Lack of patent research (20 patents were introduced)
Focus on technology
Short testing period
Too many or too few assumptions in the investigation stage
Extension of duration
The shift in the project’s other stages
Potential lawsuits at latter stages
Failure to contain the costs at later stages
Abandonment of current research
Detailed patent research of similar products (Schick Quatro titanium)
Examining alternative technical solutions (eliminating the batteries, focus on the number of blades, changes in the grip and the design)
Conducting extensive beta testing, and focus groups
Outlining costs sensitive processes (the implementation of micro-pulse technology, blades coating)
3 Development
  • The failure to find industry partners sharing the costs
  • Equipment related issues (delivery, setup, failures, etc)
  • Underestimation or overestimation of costs
  • Occurrence of modifications in the design or the specification of the product (The indicator battery)
The absence of timely specifications proposals for partners
Bad communication between stakeholders
A bad review of previous stages
Delays
Rise of costs
Change in resources estimations
Abandonment of product’s development
The release of a similar product in a short period
Sharing the risks with the partners
Review of the objectives in previous stages
Acting within the allocated resources for this stage
Insurance (related to equipment)
4 Validation
  • High rates of unspecified defects
  • The disposable materials being too costly to purchase (finding the optimal cost balance for the cartridges)
Equipment problem Changes in specifications
Bad quality control
Delays
Costs increase
The failure to find vendors
The failure to comply with established standards
High costs of manufacturing the disposable materials
Change of equipment vendors
Dividing the processes of development into smaller stages

Table 1: Risk Identification.

Risk Assessment

The risk assessment of the aforementioned risks can be implemented, based on the severity of their impact and the likelihood of their occurrence. The risks should be “quantified by assessing the probability of the problem occurring, and simply ranking them as ‘high’, ‘medium’ or low’” (Lockyer and Gordon, 2005), which will indicate the size of the problem. The assessment based on failure mode and recovery can be seen through the following table (Gray and Larson, 2003). It should be noted that the repeated elements have different risk values, due to the fact that their occurrence at different stages of the project has different probabilities and impacts.

The Risk Impact
(Scale of 5)
Probability
(Scale of 5)
Detection Risk Value
  • Misunderstanding of market needs
  • Failure to guide the needs in the right direction
2

3

1

2

4

4

8

24

  • The prototype is similar to an existing product
  • Technology is too costly
  • High failure rates
  • Costs Underestimation
5

4

4

3

1

2

3

3

1

2

1

1

5

16

12

9

  • industry partners
  • costs contamination
  • Equipment related issues
  • Occurrence of modifications
4

3

5

4

2

3

4

2

1

2

1

1

8

18

20

8

  • – High rates of
  • unspecified defects
4 2 1 8

It can be seen from the risk values that the highest values are either occurring at the earlier stages of development or equipment-related issues, which in both cases implies further consideration by the company. In that regard, it should be stated that among the possible ways to reduce the risk values, is either reducing the likely hood of its occurrence or reducing the impact that the event would have on the project. In both cases, it should be mentioned that a thorough analysis at the earlier stages might reduce the risk value of the following stages, and subsequently reduce the risks associated with the project in general. Additionally, it should be noted that these factors did not touch on the subject of the project duration, i.e. the reliance of interdependent factor, where the product at the stage of development can be assumed to have a limited impact in terms of duration, compared to commercial manufacturing and launch.

References

GRAY, C. F. & LARSON, E. W. 2003. Project management: the managerial process, Boston, McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

LOCK, D. 2007. Project management, Aldershot, England; Burlington, VT, Gower.

LOCKYER, K. G. & GORDON, J. 2005. Project management and project network techniques, Harlow, England; New York, Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

NREL. 2005. Stage Gate Management in the Biomass Program. Web.

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