Spider Mapping – a powerful tool

Why Spider Mapping is such a powerful tool to avoid costly over-specification?

Spider Mapping is a simple yet effective Design for Excellence (DfX) tool to make use of customer insights to allow Development to determine whether a product is generating the right value at the right cost, i.e. avoid over-specification.

About our Design for Excellence approach

Spider map - About our Design for Excellence approachDesign for Excellence is an approach to support cross-functional teams, to reduce product cost and increase value for the customer. The DfX methodology incorporates a broad range of perspectives and tools, which are used to support a company designing, making and delivering products and solutions. It challenges all aspects of the value chain.

This article provides you some insight in one of our tools: the Spider Map.

Spider Mapping to the rescue

Have you ever noticed that Marketing departments typically use PowerPoint while Development departments usually use Excel? The usage of different tools often is a symptom of the differing focus and approaches between these departments. Unfortunately, they often also indicate a great likelihood of miscommunication between these departments, often resulting in product over-specification – the addition of features that drive up cost but aren’t highly valued by customers – or poor performance tradeoffs being made.

Spider Mapping to the Rescue

Fortunately, the Spider Mapping tool can help collaboration and success in these situations. A Spider Map is a comparison tool, which allows the user to compare the key elements of one product version to a competing one in a visual way. It can bridge the Marketing views and Development views in a simple chart without the need to translate between PowerPoint and Excel. In other words, it allows Development and Marketing to determine whether a product is generating the right value at the right cost.

Providing a clear overview

Spider Mapping can be used as a tool to improve collaboration between Marketing and Development by:

  • Helping decision makers realize that you cannot do everything for everyone – tradeoffs must be made
  • Forcing stakeholders to consciously consider the tradeoffs involved in changes to the product design
  • Not using a more expensive specification when a simpler one suffices (over-specification). A well-constructed Spider Map makes over-specification visible at a glance
  • Cost versus value, resolving performance tradeoffs. As such, they are also very powerful in sales discussions with professional customers
  • Positioning products effectively against competing products

Getting Spider Maps right

The biggest value of a Spider Map is its customer-focused approach: Development and other departments like Marketing assess the product criteria and jointly determine which product aspects are the most valuable in the eyes of the customer.

To get the most out of Spider Mapping ensure the followings steps should be taken:

  • Define the axes of the Spider Map well. That is the first and very valuable interaction.
  • Provide adequate substantiation; quantitative facts must be readily available to back up to the conclusions of the Spider Map
  • Always include cost, when used internally, or cost of ownership, when used with a customer, as one of the dimensions

Spider Mapping is an essential tool in our Design for Excellence toolbox. Together with other tools and methods, Spider Mapping helps organization to increase value and reduce costs.

This article is part of our series on Design for Excellence ›