How much does it cost to speed up product development?

September 1999 Quick Tip

Many companies have spent a great deal of money to achieve rapid product development without seeing much benefit. It isn’t difficult to spend millions of dollars on CAD (computer-aided design) systems, development workstations, or rapid prototyping systems.

Interestingly, these firms have paid the price of admission, but the ongoing “dues” to really see improvement are quite cheap in financial terms. Sophisticated CAD and computer systems are often the price required to even play the game today, but since your competitors can buy these too, they aren’t enough.

The firms that I have seen really compress their time to market also invest in management tools that act to reinforce these technology tools.

What are some of these management tools? Early, ongoing customer involvement is one. Dedicated, co-located development teams is another. Still another is a product architecture that supports component and design reuse. MBWA (management by walking around) is a perfect example of one that costs nothing financially but eludes many companies. This one is a speed enhancer because it gives management fresher, more accurate information for taking action quickly than do monthly or quarterly management reviews.

As you might now suspect, these management tools have their price too. It is often paid more in organizational or behavioral change than in financial terms. For instance, co-location or MBWA are powerful accelerators, but they require individuals to change how they operate.

For more on getting benefit from what you put into improving your product development, refer to the article, ” Reaping Benefit from Speed to Market.”

To pursue process improvements as a corporate investment, see “Your Product Development Process Demands Ongoing Improvement.”

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