Have you been involved in a product development or product launch program that seemed to be behind schedule before it even started?
Has the manager of the multi-month project tried to plan the program to the day to prove that it can/will be done?
A Prussian general General Herman Von Moltke the Elder stated:
“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”
1. Plan Backwards, then Verify Forward
No, this is not some odd quote from “Kung Fu” the TV show with David Carradine.
You have to know when you are finished with the project in terms of:
By planning backwards, you start with the end in mind. Not just product performance, but in all aspects including:
– tooling and other production preparation
– test development
– quality inspection
– production forecasts to satisfy sales forecasts
Verifying forward is another way of tracking progress on to the plan. Verify daily that the departments’ plans are being followed and deadline met.
2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communicate up, down and sideways:
– up the chain of command to assure them of progress and communicate issues requiring their assistance
– down the chain of command information that impacts the project
– to your peers so they know how their departments are supporting your project
If you think you are annoying them with “over-communication”, then you are at the minimum threshold of communication. If they tell you you are annoying them, acknowledge it, change them from the “To:” line to the “CC:” line and don’t and back-off a bit. They can ignore your report.
3. Use a new product development plan template
I like templates and checklists, both paper and electronic. They are a surrogate for my memory. Put another way, they “remember” for me. The list of categories of tasks in a project varies little from project to project. Details differ because of the design, innovation, and target market of the new product, but the steps and pitfalls are very similar.
With all of the tasks and projects that product directors and managers have to do, we need all of the help possible to keep the projects moving and organized. Start today with your current projects and record what you are working on. Refer and add to this list daily. At the end of the project you will have a starting point for your next one.
Want to know more about improving your Product Development Plan? Check out my other BLOG posts!
E-mail me or leave a comment if you have any questions.