Preston Smith's Corner

Can we accelerate product development using a “Faster, Better, Cheaper” program?

August 1999 Quick Tip

In many ways, yes. Some techniques, for instance, cross-functional development teams and a product specification well-rooted in the needs of the customer, will improve Faster as well as Better and Cheaper. Improvements in all three areas are especially likely initially in an improvement program, because large opportunities remain.

At other times, we encounter more of a trade-off. For example, a co-located development team is generally powerful for Faster, but it will not necessarily improve Cheaper. A full QFD (quality function deployment) analysis will help Better but usually at the expense of Faster. Employing an integral product architecture usually aids Cheaper, but a modular architecture is normally Faster.

It is essential to recognize that product development, at its very root, involves making countless trade-offs. Each development project has unique demands for Faster, Better, Cheaper (F,B,C). That is, F,B,C are NOT EQUAL on a given project, and each project will have its own desired balance of F,B,C.

Couple this with the fact that your developers — in their daily work — must make trade-offs among F,B,C, often subconsciously. If there is no shared agreement on the F,B,C balance for the project at hand, each developer will make her/his own choice.

When this happens, members of your herd will each migrate in a different direction. Then you will need a round-up, and round-ups degrade Faster, Better, AND Cheaper.

Another point to keep in mind is that emphasizing Cheaper too strongly can starve the program of the very resources needed to make the transition to F,B,C. You will have to invest resources to get better.

For more on this topic, refer to the article, “Reaping Benefit from Speed to Market.”

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

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