NPD PROTOTYPING: Benchmarking the People behind the Products

Successful new product development (NPD) projects start with a great idea and are executed with the right plan.  Prototyping, more than any other stage in the lifecycle of a NPD project relies on the people and talent behind the product to validate theories and execute on activities that will lay the foundation for a product’s successful market launch.

In this paper, I will be focusing on the impact resources have on the prototyping stage in new product development projects and the future role project stakeholders can have on the final results of a new product’s success or failure.

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WHITE PAPER NPD Prototyping: Benchmarking the People behind the Products By: Neil Stolovitsky E-mail: sales@geniusproject.com Website: www.geniusproject.com Genius Inside | August 2011 Copyright © 1997 – 2011 Genius Inside. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system or translated into any language, any form, by any means without the prior written consent of Genius Inside. Information in this publication is subject to change without notice and does not constitute any commitment on the part of Genius Inside. Genius Inside may have patents or pending patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property rights covering the subject matter of this publication. Furnishing of this document does not in any way grant you license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or any other intellectual property of Genius Inside. Genius Project for Domino®, Genius Project On-Demand®, Genius Project Enterprise® and the Genius Inside logo are trademarks of Genius Inside Inc. Lotus Notes® is a trademark of Lotus Development Corporation. All other company and product names are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies. All rights reserved. Agile Development: Redifining "Management" in Project Management NPD Prototyping: Benchmarking the People behind the Products © | Page 2 / 4 NPD PROTOTYPING: Benchmarking the People behind the Products By: Neil Stolovitsky, Senior Solution Specialist August 2011 Abstract Successful new product development (NPD) projects start with a great idea and are executed with the right plan. Planning for success requires the carefully detailing of activities, staffing and risk associated with the project. From the time a project is selected until the product goes to market, every step in the development process must be carefully scrutinized and executed to deliver desirable results. The prototyping stage is critical in that it takes a theoretical concept and puts it through its paces. It’s the stage where new product development teams are identifying flaws in design, predicting market reception and analyzing profitability. Prototyping, more than any other stage in the lifecycle of a NPD project relies on the people and talent behind the product to validate theories and execute on activities that will lay the foundation for a product’s successful market launch. Pooling resources and sharing information among stakeholders are as critical to the success of an NPD project as the project itself. The effective resource planning at this stage will serve as a benchmark to what resources will be required when moving to full production, as well as the organization’s ability to deliver on its expectations. In this paper, I will be focusing on the impact resources have on the prototyping stage in new product development projects and the future role project stakeholders can have on the final results of a new product’s success or failure. Product Prototyping: Mitigating Risk in NPD Projects In new product development and innovation projects, the prototyping stage is where an idea becomes reality. This critical stage sets the foundation for the future success of an organization’s new product. Here is where engineering and design are tested, market studies are conducted and an organization’s ability to assess their own capabilities to fully support the product is put through its paces. Typically pre-production prototyping can be divided into three distinct phases:  Scoping – Preliminary assessment of market conditions, technical feasibility, financial viability and overall risk of the selected product.  Building the Business Case – Detailed analysis of market conditions, technical feasibility, financial viability and overall risk; as well as the planning of production, distribution, concept testing and action plan(s).  Development – Development of a working prototype and design, user case studies, customer feedback, production processes, supply chain processes, and product launch; as well as the review of product regulations and intellectual property. The first two phases primarily focus on the assessment of a product’s viability, and the last phase primarily focuses on the viability of the plan and the development of a working prototype. The sole purpose of these three phases is to enable you to test and refine your product idea so that it is in line with ideal market conditions, employs the best in materials and design, and provides the best documentation for financing, patent development and regulatory compliance. NPD Prototyping: Benchmarking the People behind the Products © | Page 3 / 4 As a safeguard, organizations will typically establish a gated process with multiple decision points to ensure that each product development phase is assessed by the appropriate stakeholders to ensure that certain levels of quality are being met prior to moving from one phase to the next. This gated process is in place to mitigate risk and validate the initial findings during every step along the pre- production prototyping path. For many organizations, the critical decision points during these phases can mean the difference between heavily investing in a “star” product that will deliver successful results and killing a project before it’s too late. Plan for Success: Behind Every Great Product there are Great People During the prototyping stage, an organization’s resources drive new product development projects and confirm all the checks and balances along their path. Resources are not only responsible for the tactical execution of the engineering, design and market assessment, but are also responsible for the strategic decisions to adjust or, in some cases, put the entire project on hold.. During the prototyping phases, testing a working product prototype in relation to the marketplace is only one side of the equation. The other side of your product’s success will depend on your organization’s ability to execute and deliver on your plan. Consequently, a comprehensive prototyping effort will move beyond the product itself and validate that the best resources and talent are available to deliver a quality and profitable product to the marketplace. While product design and viability are being tested, this is the stage to also benchmark your resources and assess their competencies. Furthermore, an inclusive strategy involving the future team is critical in paving the path toward product success. The best way to gain true visibility into your team is to involve all potential stakeholders in building a complete plan with projected assignments and the anticipated team. As a result, this will bring to light critical information that will prepare your project for full production and distribution. When assessing your project team, here are some common questions an organizations needs to ask itself to gain better visibility into its future success:  Do I have the commitment from my “A Team” and its stakeholders?  Are there resource gaps and/or shortages in my forecasted timeline?  Do I have the right talent and/or do I need to recruit additional expertise for the project?  Does this new project negatively impact other high priority assignments and projects?  Is the project in line with our corporate objectives? Having a clear view of resources and talent will provide a clearer picture into the future success of a new product and consequently help reduce the risk of poor execution in future stages of your NPD process. More importantly, resource planning and testing serves not only a tactical role ensuring you have the best team to deliver, but also serves a strategic role involving stakeholders and potential team members early on in the development cycle as they help build build a case for success and identify potential problems before significant investment is placed in the project. NPD Prototyping: Benchmarking the People behind the Products © | Page 4 / 4 Making the Grade: Is your Prototype ready for Production? In the final analysis, carefully assessing the prototyping stage in new product development projects is critical in validating that an organization’s investment in its people, time and money is focused on the right activities. Alternatively, a non-exhaustive dissection of this stage increases the risk of failure and can lead to disastrous results in the next stage of production where extensive investment is made. Consequently, prototyping requires careful planning that will yield expected results when moving to production. At the end of the prototyping stage, organizations are at a critical point in their new product development cycle when they make the difficult decision to continue the project or stop it in its tracks. Developing the best metrics to gain an accurate view of your NPD project’s potential will not necessarily guarantee success, however it will mitigate risk and at the least ensure that your team is making an informed decision. Metrics based on your organization’s’ success factors empower project stakeholders in the involvement and ultimate decision on a project’s approval. As a result, tracking success factors will formalize the decision making process and can yield the following benefits:  Validate the alignment of your prototype results with your corporate objectives  Prioritize your project within your entire portfolio of NPD projects  Alerting your stakeholders to potential problems and validate difficult decisions to kill the project (if needed)  Build a case for balancing risk versus reward The reality is that even the most meticulous prototyping process cannot guarantee success. As this is the case, adopting a formal NPD process during pre-production prototyping will allow for a more streamlined execution of the assessment of your working prototype and will provide you with the necessary foundation to successfully produce, market and distribute your new product. Genius Project: Supporting Prototyping in NPD Projects The successful prototyping of new products requires the meticulous planning of people and activities that will serve as the foundation of a product’s commercial success. Genius Project's resource and project planning capabilities allows organizations to develop a comprehensive project plan and provide clear visibility into their resource pool and talent responsible for project success. More importantly, Genius Project is shipped with a workflow engine that supports your phase review process ensuring that you are working on the most profitable NPD projects. In Genius Project’s Resource and Project Planning modules, NPD project prototyping can be tracked and managed by allowing you to:  Build complete prototype plans through a powerful Gantt chart  Manage cross project resource usage and allocation conflict  Run What-if scenarios to validate the ability to delivery results  Increase accuracy of resource and team planning and forecasting  Create more effective and profitable project teams through appropriate staffing  Determine the availability of management and analyze capacity planning  Provide a thorough and documented review process  Define common metrics, KPIs and risk factors for evaluating performance To learn more about Genius Project and its new product development and planning capabilities please go to: http://www.geniusproject.com/new-product-development-software
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