Part of product development is establishing a pipeline of projects that ensure a steady supply of new products delivered over time. Often the pipeline gets clogged, slowing down the delivery of new products. In the short case study below, we discuss one set of solutions to unclog a pipeline.
Product Development Case Study
Case Study Background
One of our clients recently told us ‘the bubble was shifting.’ Since I had never heard this phrase before, I wondered what this meant and should it be interpreted as good or bad?
Over the years, this client’s pipeline became stuffed with new projects, resulting in nothing being delivered to market on-time. A project that should typically take 2 years took 5. Maybe you’ve seen something similar in your organization.
Product Development Changes Made
We implemented a number of changes to address these issues.
- Built a comprehensive list of all projects
- Performed a capacity analysis and worked with management to prioritize the project list, then focused on active projects based on capacity
- Integrated tools to provide project definition and clarity
- Implemented tools to improve overall project visibility and communication (a web based project management tool which incorporates visual project management (PLAYBOOK), cross-functional project teams for timeline creation/updates, and a standardized update process)
- Identified a process owner who is responsible for internal communication, training, and process standardization
Project Management Challenges
There was and continues to be pushback in the organization specifically around too many projects and the time commitments for project timeline creation and updates. However, the organization is starting to see projects getting done, significantly better project communication with non-engineering groups, and fewer management complaints about projects being late due to the better communication process.
The comment about the bubble shifting came from operations. They were commenting on the fact that if projects kept going at the current pace, operations will run out of capacity. So shifting the bubble meant that projects were now moving through the pipeline for the first time in years. Was it easy? No. But in this case, shifting the bubble was a good thing from a product development perspective.