Our work with marketing, design and engineering teams over the past several decades has been an interesting and challenging journey. We have been lucky in our work with diverse teams in different industries.
There are common challenges and goals for all teams working on concepts for innovative products and services. Whatever business you are in, there are a few fundamentals for application in the planning and execution of your projects.
The Design Brief is the project roadmap.
Every project begins with a design brief including constraints on time, budget, and performance metrics. These guidelines, of course, are established after an agreement is reached on the design or project brief with key stakeholders. The problem statement, resources, assignments and measurable goals must be included in the brief. A well-written brief will help guide the team from research through production release and market launch.
Collaborative Project Planning is a key to success.
Let’s say your team is working on plans for an expansion of your operations. Ideally, you will invite marketing, design, engineering, and operations to the planning sessions to gather opinions based on deep experience. After all, that’s why you hired these people.
We sparked a lively conversation with our team recently. It was happening again…the Client was delayed in sending a formal order for our work on a project that was running late before we were asked to get involved. It happens frequently with high-performing teams. The root cause seems to be fluid market conditions, uncertainty in the global economy, and stressed supply chains. There are other factors to consider when weighing investments in innovation.
To state it simply, the world is getting more competitive. Markets for all products, horticultural produce, and service solutions are demanding faster, better and cheaper solutions to meet consumer wants and needs. No one ever said it was going to be easy!
New thinking and innovative models
The keys to enhanced performance and innovative solutions can be cultivated in the collective mindset of the team and willingness to look at things differently. This process requires a shift in thinking about project planning.
Concept development is usually mapped out over a small percentage of the project plan. This approach gives way to more time and budget for the next phase of activities. This planning methodology is, in many cases, based on legacy projects and a risk-averse mindset driven by team leadership. The answer to market pressures will not be found in more time to market, higher costs, or acceptance of inferior solutions.
If the resources for concept development are expanded, the results can be dramatically improved for the overall project. This, of course, requires compression of future phases and it is more complex than moving timing and money around to relax the early phase activities.
The initial proposed plan includes 15% for concept development, 25% for feasibility, and 60% for production engineering. Based on the metrics from past projects, the production engineering will require time for multiple iterations and tool changes after release into fabrication.
For comparative purposes, let’s increase the concept time and budget to 25% of the planned resources, and reduce the feasibility and production engineering phases by 5% for each phase.
The budget and overall timing remain unchanged with more emphasis on getting the concept right. Iterations and change orders become much more costly as we move into tooling, fabrication, and assembly of the product. The time to head off costly iterations and scope creep is during the early phase of the project.
The overall project budget and timing remain the same. The result is a more streamlined development path with fewer costly iterations from start to delivery. It is our experience that the overall budget and timing can be reduced on future projects.
Innovative methods and streamlined development
These planning and project management methods can be applied in any line of business. A startup in the fashion industry struggles with the same challenges as a car company or furniture brand. We apply this thinking to leverage different ways of planning, working, and accelerated delivery of excellent solutions.
Please visit us at fredricks.com to learn more. We have a range of guides available for download.
We appreciate our work on your projects as we look forward to future evolution and innovation with new teams…
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