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Medical Device Concept Ranking

Medical Device Concept Ranking

A New Product Development (NPD) tool to help remove bias from important decision making.

July 18, 2019

In this article, I will be presenting a tool that ranks concept ideas in a meaningful way and provides decision makers with a powerful overview of candidate concept solutions that deserve effort and attention. The tool serves to eliminate bias, and stimulates discussion on important commercialization issues early on in the development process. In this way, the best concepts will be advanced and effort will be applied to the right concept at the right time.

The tool provides decision makers with clarity on the needed actions to take to resolve uncertainty without wasting resources. It can highlight weaknesses in a concept, that, if strengthened in key areas might become a better contender. In this way, a strategic investment in a concept’s weakness may result in it moving up the list next time it is evaluated.

The Concept Ranking Tool Main Page:

Start by populating the table with the Concept Name of up to 8 concepts. Follow this by including your role in the New Product Development effort, if applicable. Use examples may include.

  • Multiple concept solutions to a current defined clinical challenge
  • A variety of new product candidates with diverse target markets
  • Results of an internal ideation session

Once you have your concept names and details about your role in their development, you are ready to assemble your Team. As a group, you will be reviewing the following 4 categories.

  • Strategic Alignment
  • Likelihood of Success
  • Financial Impact
  • Medical Benefit

[A note about your team: Ideally you are looking for cross-functionality and members that are empowered to make decisions. Keep the Team as lean as possible. You want to have domain knowledge in each of the 4 areas, but you also have to be able to get all members together! Too many Team members can make the decision making drag on unnecessarily; too few and you will not get the impact you are looking for. Experiment until you have the right balance.]

I learned the fundamentals of this idea while studying at the University of Minneapolis Medical Devices Centre. Mr. Warren Watson (of Medtronic at the time) helped solidify its usefulness by suggesting, it's not about getting it perfect, but rather getting a diverse set of people together and asking meaningful questions.

The categories are accessed by using the tabs at the bottom of the page:

The Team you have assembled will discuss each item from the Assessment List and enter a score.

The score is selected from a drop-down list (1-5).

Complete all four categories (tabs):

  • Strategic Alignment
  • Likelihood of Success
  • Financial Impact
  • Medical Benefit

Here is an example of a table that has been populated.

Before ranking the concepts:

Finally, while on the Portfolio Management tab (home screen), press the "Rank Ideas" button.

After ranking the concepts:

Give it a try for yourself, and please let me know if you find a successful application for the tool in your organization.

Published by Ian Maclean, P. Eng.
Ian Maclean, Professional Engineer