Product Value Management program takes flight

Professor of mechanical engineering Dr. Marty Morris '77, MSME '79, (standing, far right) and Dr. Ed Bond, professor and chair of the marketing department, (standing, middle) work with Caterpillar, Inc. employees participating in Bradley's new Product Value Management program.

February 19, 2013

By Frank Radosevich II

Bradley’s Executive Development Center and Caterpillar, Inc. together have launched a new training program that prepares Caterpillar employees for deep collaboration throughout the entire product development value stream to create maximum value for customers.

The Product Value Management program brings together Caterpillar specialists from engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, logistics, marketing and sales. Together, participants become aware of unique challenges in product development generated by the wide array of products and customers that Caterpillar serves. The program develops skills for world class collaboration using non-traditional collaborative mechanisms developed by Caterpillar and best practices Bradley University faculty draw from innovation organizations around the world.

“It’s a pretty unique program on Bradley’s campus,” said Lisa Stufflebeam, executive director for the Executive Development Center. “The Product Value Management program is really on the cusp of bringing the disciplines of business and engineering closer together.”

Armed with a better understanding of customer needs and how those needs affect Caterpillar’s customer and shareholder value, Caterpillar employees can then partner effectively to add value while cutting costs for products and services.

“This program really encourages employees to break down the walls between their departments, start communicating and working together,” Stufflebeam said.

During the program, Caterpillar employees take part in mock value alignment and integration events so employees can experience the process by which Caterpillar will devise ways to improve their products by increasing value without driving up the cost. Participants also tour Caterpillar factories and labs at Bradley to learn more about engineering and manufacturing processes. The program is taught primarily by Bradley’s engineering and business faculty.

The first class of 30 PVM participants completed their three-month session in December 2012 and was recognized at a certificate ceremony in Peoria. The second class of participants began in early February and is currently underway.

Although currently only offered in Peoria, Caterpillar and the Executive Development Center are considering expanding the program to other cities in Illinois, like Decatur and Aurora, and possibly overseas, said Angela Settles, the Executive Development Center’s director of operations. She said Caterpillar and Bradley are working constantly to improve PVM so that it encourages cooperation among departments and dialogues around cost and value.

Besides improving Caterpillar’s workforce, PVM benefits Bradley by encouraging convergence between engineering and business faculty and inspiring courses centered on real world challenges.

“Bradley’s undergraduate curriculum becomes more robust,” Settles said. “Engineers learn to recognize costs constraints and business students can better understand how a product is designed, manufactured and shipped.”

The Executive Development Center provides cutting-edge executive education based on leading academic research and real-world experience. EDC's programs in business and leadership provide managers the know-how to be more effective and make better business decisions. The center has partnered with Caterpillar in the past, developing "Powering Up," a customized leadership development program for the corporation's supervisors located domestically and abroad.