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We're not spinning a yarn

A new product development system is helping a Greensboro, N.C., textile supply company stem the tide of overseas competition. Officials at Unifi, a textured yarns producer and processor, wanted to increase new products and revenue by capturing and managing product ideas better, and by providing an automated, best-practice-based process for turning concepts into reality.

"Product and service innovation is central to Unifi's strategies for defending domestic markets, expanding globally and ensuring the continued strength of our company," says Tim Albright, Unifi product development manager. "We looked at a range of product life cycle and portfolio management offerings that claimed to increase product development speed and efficiency."

Unifi eventually chose the Accolade product development system from Sopheon. A principal reason was the way in which the software reinforces Stage-Gate, a widely used product development process methodology that Unifi is adopting. The solution supports Stage-Gate by providing embedded best-practice process manuals and other specialized content that help ensure steps of the process are properly executed, according to Sopheon.

"[The solution] communicates and reinforces Stage-Gate best practices at every step of the developmental process," says Albright, "while promoting adherence and supporting individual and team success. We concluded that it could help us drive innovation and development-to-market excellence."

Unifi is also using Accolade to take advantage of internally generated product and technology ideas. The software offers an idea submission process that is made available through the company's intranet. Submitted ideas are channeled into an automated tracking system and archived for ongoing access and possible reuse. Decision support capabilities include customizable scorecards that solicit, record and tally idea evaluations so that every idea submitted receives objective, thorough consideration, Sopheon says.

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