Myths of Product Development Process

Product development managers are struggling to bring projects on time and budget. They never have enough resources, predictable schedules and deliverables. So they push their teams, to write detailed plans, and to reduce scheduled variations and waste. But that approach, actually hurt product development process efforts. Even though many companies treat product development process as if it was similar to manufacturing, but they are profoundly different. In manufacturing physical objects, jobs are repetitive, activities are predictable, and the items being created should be in only one place at a time. But in contrast, product development process many jobs are unique, project requirements repeatedly change. Due to the unawareness of these critical differences there are several mistaken belief that erode the planning, execution, and evaluation of product development process. By studying and advising various companies on product-development process, it is encountered that these misconceptions exists in a wide range of industries, including automobiles, medical devices, semiconductors, software, consumer electronics, and financial services. Here we expose the issues they create.

Full utilization of resources will improve performance:
We have seen that more number of deploy companies strive to fully d their product development resources. Through market research conducted at the California Institute of Technology, it has found that the average product development manager has capacity utilization above 98%. The logic behind is the projects which takes longer when people are not working 100% of the time, a busy product development process organization will be faster and efficient than one that is not as good at utilizing its people. But in practice it is not true; they are doing just for sake no matter how skilled those managers are. High utilization has serious negative effects.

Processing work in large batches improves the economics of the product development process:
The second myth in product development process is batch size. The more you reduce the batch size the more you reduce the time and money. For example, if your product has 200 spare parts where 200 where started to design before even testing any of them, but instead if you start design 20 parts you began testing, the batch size will be 90% smaller. That would have an effect on queue timing, because the average queue in a process is directly proportional to batch size. The decrease in batch sizes is a critical principle of lean manufacturing. Small batches let manufacturers to cut work in process and accelerate feedback, improves cycle times, quality, and efficiency.

Your development plan is great; we just need to stick to it:
None of the product development process whose requirements remained same throughout the design process. Yet many firms have huge faith in their plans. So they will be very careful in executing each and every step. Such thinking is good for highly established manufacturing processes. But it lead to poor results in new product innovation, where new insights are generated continuously and conditions are constantly changing.

The sooner the project is started, the sooner it will be finished:
As discussed earlier, idle time is hateful to managers. They tend to avoid any downtime by starting a new project. Even if the job cannot be completed because people have to go to another project, managers accomplish that new projects work should not have to be done later. Such thinking directs companies to start many projects than they can forcibly pursue, diluting resources which is dangerous, because product development process is highly perishable.

The more features we put into a product, the more customers will like it:
Product development process team seems to believe that adding features creates value for customers. It is not that the features that matters, it is that how you satisfy or fulfil the customer needs smartly. For that understanding customer is needed, without knowing your customers’ needs exactly it is waste to design a product having outstanding features in products. Companies find it difficult to implement this principle because it requires extra efforts in two areas of product development process defining the problem and determining what to hide or omit. Defining a problem refers that what the customer exactly needed, getting their insights and developing the product is more important than pushing your product to adapt. During product development process there will be enormous idea comes into picture to include as a feature or function on the product due to the inclusion of various cross functional team in the process. But choosing the best one that fits or address the customer needs perfectly is a great challenge. It can be solved by doing market research and test market.

It will be more successful if we get it right the first time:
Many product development process projects fail due to various reasons like budget constraints, scheduling, and technical performance. But undoubtedly, rigid processes, poor planning, and weak leadership all play a major role. But another root cause that often occurs is manager’s demand that their teams should get it right at the first time. It is that they require success on the first time itself so they will choose to implement less risky solutions on product, even if customers also don’t consider them as an improvement over what’s already available. To avoid such mistakes teams must follow a linear step by step process in which each stage of it process and is to be carefully monitored. Work on the next step should not begin until the project passes through the current step. Unfortunately, such a linear process will cost you high and takes much time but it avoids bad ideas and less risk in implementation.