What is Product Development Consulting?
Product development is a cross-functional capability that conceptualizes, plans and then realizes new offerings. These offerings satisfy an existing need, or they solve a problem that has yet to be defined – but would delight customers if they knew it existed. The most effective, lean product development processes are based on empowerment and trust. Management’s goals are best served when team leaders have responsibility and accountability for the new product development process. Senior management must let go of the tendency to micro-manage and empower teams to be successful. Senior management’s roles are to resource the team and to prioritize projects assigned to them.
Our approach encourages the right kind of senior management oversight that keeps empowered teams on task throughout the product design and development process. New product development processes graduate to lean product development when senior managers learn to get out of the way and build high performance teams that have the authority to innovate, problem-solve, and focus on products that customers will love.
The most effective product development processes are based on empowerment and trust.
Innovation and Execution
TCGen’s consulting engagements help product development organizations with both innovating new products and executing projects more efficiently. Our product management and product definition expertise help firms do the right thing, while our Agile, high-performance teaming, and metrics knowledge helps companies do things right. In both innovation and execution, our best practices are customized to fit your company’s markets and culture.
Product Portfolio Management
A growing area of our practice centers on product portfolio management. Too many companies do not adequately manage this portfolio of product concepts. They are missing systems for managing this fuzzy front-end of product development. What we have discovered is that success begins by having some means of de-mystifying the front end of product development. The most effective way to do this it through systems that enable decision-makers to converge quickly and reliably on the best opportunities for creating winning products.
One of the most important transformations we undertake in a product development consulting engagement is to establish what we call Boundary Conditions accompanied by the Out-of-Bounds process. Boundary conditions are a contract between the teams and management. At the start of each project, the team and management negotiate this contract around approximately five dimensions of a project, usually product cost, features, schedule, quality, or reliability. The team and management then agree on quantitative thresholds for each of the boundary conditions, for example a target cost for the product at retail, or a “no later than” date for delivery, tied to an important trade show. If the team looks as though it is going to go out of bounds, at any time during the project, then there is a clearly defined escalation process where a solution is found, and a new metric is established for the team.
Who is Product Development Consulting for?
All companies at all stages of maturity may benefit from product development consulting.
TCGen works with a range of product companies. We have deep experience in medical devices, telecom, technology, software, and consumer electronics. But any company that wants a reliable process that produces a predictable, efficient stream of innovative products can leverage TCGen’s product development consulting expertise and best practices.
Any Size Company That Craves Innovation
We have improved the product development process for start-ups pioneering new categories and well-established firms in mature industries. TCGen’s work with start-ups tends to start with the C-Suite. With these small, nimble companies, we’re able to deliver observable results quickly. More sophisticated firms tend to have more layers of hierarchy and greater resistance to change (this is often called the “frozen middle”). Our expertise in organizational change management enables us to assess cultural challenges and produce targeted results that respect the tone of your organization.
Not a Type of Company – a Level of Product Development Maturity
We help firms that are challenged to reach that next level of product development maturity. Some firms face the challenge of scalability; others want more predictable, reliable results from product development projects. Yet other companies want greater efficiency, or a better feel for market changes. Wherever your company stands in its Product Development journey, our customized solutions will help you to achieve your goals.
How do we structure Product Development Consulting engagements
Typically, TCGen’s product development consulting engagements have four steps: assessment, developing the key recommendations, training; and then piloting metrics that manage change by monitoring behavior.
Assessment and Prioritization
First, we conduct an assessment of the current state of the product development process and then use these findings to pinpoint a small number of improvement levers. Desired organizational changes are teased apart and divided into incremental improvements. We then choose the most effective levers for these small improvements, and then sequence and prioritize them.
Target Metric for Each Improvement
For each of these key improvement levers, we establish a target metric with the aim of seeding the changes within the organization so that they take root. Only when our metrics indicate that an improvement is taking hold do we move on to the next transformation.
We then test our assumptions with several teams and key executives. We pilot the recommendations with particular teams. This is largely a learning exercise to understand the specifics of implementation. Having tested the veracity of the method and its implementation, we then provide a training program, in the form of workshops, for all relevant stakeholders.
We phase in the new product development process by first requiring only a subset of teams to use it. New teams adopt the process as they are formed, and we offer retraining at that time. We then attach compliance metrics with a clear goal on the order of 95% compliance within three months.
In what kind of timeframe do organizations see change after a Product Development Consulting engagement?
In some cases, we work with in-process teams, in real time to implement a new product development process. In such cases, teams will see an almost immediate impact from our product development consulting work.
In other cases, a more in-depth assessment is necessary. This assessment process may take as much as one to two months, with an additional month or two to create customized solutions and the training modules needed to deliver them. The duration of the training depends on the size of the organizations and the number of people trained. A lengthy training cycle, with international teams, may take as many as three to four months.
After the training is complete, managers begin to see results: empowered teams creating more predictable outcomes in product development, more on time deliverables, more milestones hit, better product plans. After the client has implemented our customized solutions for a period of between 4 and 9 months, we sometimes revisit the teams, and we listen to them speak of their struggles and successes. If needed, TCGen then tailors the solutions based on this feedback. Managers will begin to see teams making customer-focused decisions faster; they will see more efficient teams, creating sharply differentiated products in the marketplace.
How could your organization transform from Product Development Consulting?
A Point of Contact
Companies should plan to provide a point of contact who will serve as an internal driver for the engagement. This point person, usually an individual contributor or team manager, serves as the resident expert and as our guide through the organization. He or she helps to organize workshops and functions as a project manager for the engagement. Helping TCGen to improve the organization’s product development capability should be this individual’s top priority.
An Executive Champion
Organizations also typically provide an executive-level champion or sponsor. The champion’s primary task is to help us to communicate with the executive team and secure sufficient time on the team’s calendar. We would sometimes work with a Program Office, a VP of Engineering or Marketing, or a senior R&D manager.
Access to Data and Schedules
In a product development consulting engagement, our assessments often involve detailed post-mortems and project histories. We ask that companies share data regarding project schedules, budgets, product and marketing plans, staffing, metrics etc. We often interview individuals and teams and produce new data in the form of quantitative and qualitative analyses.
What do people say about their experience after a Product Development Consulting Engagement?
Our product development consulting clients report greater project efficiency and increased product innovation. Teams develop a more reliable process for transforming customer requirements and a stronger, strategic approach to new product development programs.
Overall, we help product development organizations make better decisions, faster. This is what an Apple executive reported after we helped to revamp that company’s product development process. Our proven track record with clients across industries is based on long experience and evidence. View our client list at the link below and join these firms, which improved some aspect of their product development process and took advantage of the benefits in speed, efficiency and innovation.