Preston Smith's Corner

How can we get teams to use our product development process?

July 2002 Quick Tip

Over the past several years, many companies have moved to a formal, documented product development process. However, this just leads to the next issue: How do we get teams to follow our process? I’ll list six important factors, leading up to the most important ones at the end.

6. Draw an attractive diagram of the process. Engage an artist to help you and use color. Your diagram shouldn’t look like an engineering flow chart. Test: does a top executive have it on his or her wall and use it to explain your development process to visitors?

5. Create a glossary explaining your terminology. What does an “engineering prototype” have to do? How complete does “voice of the customer” data need to be? What is a “field trial” supposed to demonstrate?

4. Train teams in using the process. Instead of just walking through the steps, resolve why the process is needed and how much work is involved — the real questions in the backs of their minds.

3. Train management too. If management doesn’t understand the process and ask developers questions consistent with it, your process will eventually wither.

2. Plan to continually improve the process. Simplify and clarify. This demonstrates that you are serious about making it work.

1. (Most important) Have everyone participate in developing the process so that they understand it and own it. Expose it to real developers as you create it. Prototype parts of it on real projects as you formulate it.

For more on product development processes, see our article Stage Gate® Process Versus Time to Market.

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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