Abstract Traditional manufacturing planning focuses first on understanding the realities of the product marketplace and then aligning the production processes to match those realities. By conforming to that independent-market dependent-production model and simply implementing the determined tactics, manufacturing misses the opportunity to create competitive advantage by adopting a strategy that enhances the firm's position. To illustrate how manufacturing can incorporate strategic objectives into its planning, we add a third dimension to the traditional two-dimensional form of the product—process matrix. Along the new axis we show how four key competitive thrusts relate to the stages of the product—process life cycles. The thrusts of flexibility, cost, quality, and service are made explicit by plotting them, in turn, against the stages in the evolution of the product and the process. Each plot reveals new ways for manufacturing to plan for and realize competitive advantage through the application of computer-integrated manufacturing principles.