Defining New Products: The Product Definition Decision Model™ Helps Guide the Process

Is creating a written product definition document before starting development on a new product at odds with the lean methodologies that emphasize “fail fast, fail cheap” as a way to allow a product definition to emerge? A recent article proposed that indeed this is not the case (1). This article will expand on that concept and introduce the Product Definition Decision Model™ as a way to guide product definition.  Continue reading

Is Fully Defining a New Product at Odds with a “Minimum Viable Product”?

A recent article focused on the number one problem in new product development: too many projects for the available development resources (1). In that article, one of the prescriptions proposed was to resist the temptation for the scope of a project to expand. Scope creep not only impacts that specific project but the entire project portfolio because of resource dependencies. Continue reading

Tools To Manage Risk in New Product Development

Imagine this scenario: You’re a project manager in the Engineering department of a manufacturing company. You have a couple successful new product projects under your belt, and feeling confident. You’re proficient using Microsoft® Project and have an opportunity to manage the company’s next big, high-profile project. After a team meeting to kick off the project, you create a detailed Gantt chart. After all, that’s what you have used in the past, what could go wrong?  Continue reading

Software Development Challenges for Traditionally Hardware Oriented Manufacturing Companies

softwareFor manufacturing companies software is an increasingly important aspect of their product’s value proposition. From consumer to industrial products, nearly every industry is affected. Incorporating software presents greater challenges to companies whose products have traditionally been hardware oriented. Continue reading

Innovate Your Innovation Process

innovateAre you a small to mid-sized (SME) manufacturing company with a singular focus on understanding your customer needs, providing superior products to meet those needs and growing your revenue and earnings? It goes without saying that for every company, these goals should and do consume significant management bandwidth. The problem is that most organizations become too inwardly focused (1). They do not consider what might be happening outside their company, and even beyond their industry, and leverage that knowledge to create new customer value. This has driven the popularity of the concept of “open innovation”. Maybe we should extend the concept of open innovation to other important aspects of a business such as the innovation management process. Why not, in other words, “innovate your innovation process” by learning from others? Continue reading

Looking Beyond Your “Four Walls”: Revisited

Several months ago, I wrote an article on a topic of great interest to me (1). A consistent problem with many companies I work with is that senior management and those in position of leadership in new product development (NPD) do not consider what might be happening in other industries.  There is a need, as I like to say, to look beyond your “four walls”. Continue reading

Assessing Your New Product Development (NPD) Process

continuous learningFor anyone responsible for managing a new product development (NPD) process, continually assessing your process and learning from other’s experiences is a must. These whitepapers available at no charge cover a wide range of topics including the role of management in NPD success, metrics, project definition, portfolio management and online tools, project risk, among others.   Continue reading

U.S. Debt, China and Innovation

What does the U.S. debt, the Chinese economy and innovation have in common? More than you think.

Among all the other political stories in the U.S. that consume the media’s attention and many Americans, not much was heard recently about two disturbing trends that will impact the long-term economic well-being of every American household. Continue reading

Is a Phased Development Process a Project Management Technique?

The new product development process (NPD) can be represented as a “funnel” or alternatively as a “vortex” as illustrated in the figure below. A funnel implies a more orderly process; a vortex better represents the chaotic nature of new product development. At the infographictop of the vortex is the universe of product ideas that a company could potentially work on. The ideas have to be screened and prioritized as every company has resource limitations and cannot possibly, nor should they, develop every idea into a product. Once a decision is made to develop the product, then a common approach is to use a “phased development process” with its series of phases and gates to guide the product development. Continue reading

A Perspective on Scrum

For companies that manufacture highly engineered products, the importance of software continues to grow. Software is critical in many ways, but two aspects in particular stand out. First, software provides an opportunity for competitive advantage. In today’s business environment, product performance alone may not be sufficient. Second, for a company who developed project management experience on projects that are primarily hardware-centric, as the software component becomes more important, managing software development is challenge to these companies. It is also the source of significant schedule risk.   Continue reading