Bringing Maturity to the Front-End: 5 Best Practices for Building Capability

Knowing the best practices to follow is key to avoiding the pitfalls in new product development (NPD) process integration. Whether you’re a ways down the path toward a mature architecture or just getting started, here are five tips gathered from 30+ years of helping product development organizations improve their productivity and mature their full architecture of NPD.

1. Learn and share the knowledge: Understanding the full architecture of NPD is not something inherent to most product developers. There is a non-obvious complexity that must be learned because each process is made up of sub processes that have to be developed. Gaining and sharing knowledge and awareness of the full architecture of new product development, and the why, how, and when of the sub process design, deployment, and integration will go a long way toward gaining agreement across departments for the appropriate prioritization of steps and toward gaining commitment from management to a holistic approach. With proper understanding, top management can lead the organization through the advancement of cross-organizational capability maturity, while middle management can embark on the design and detailing of the sub processes and their integration.

Full Architecture of New Product Development

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Investing in the sub processes and their integration should be like feeding and nurturing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

2. Be willing to make the investment: Like just about anything that will increase the profitability of an organization, an initial investment of resources – people and money – is required. Investing in the sub processes and their integration should be like feeding and nurturing the goose that lays the golden eggs. This is particularly true during design, deployment, and early capability maturity levels. Value cannot be realized without spending the time and money needed.

3. Get the help you need to recognize the value quickly: Part of the people and money investment considerations needs to be a recognition of the available internal expertise (available meaning they have both the experience and the time to focus on process maturity) and acknowledge where an investment in outside expertise is needed. The bottom line is that organizations do not have to – and in many cases, should not – tackle this challenge alone. Because the implementation and integration of these sub processes is so critical, organizations should at least consider engaging such expertise to facilitate and guide design, deployment, and integration work. The idea is to leverage a consultant’s expertise so as to move up the learning curve faster, avoid the pitfalls, and build cross-organizational capability quicker. (For a deeper understanding of the many-fold return of maturing the sub-processes of the full architecture of NPD with a focus on product line roadmapping, read The Profound Impact of Product Line Roadmapping.)

4. Put the right systems in place: There are many software solutions available to help companies support the sub processes of the full architecture of NPD. Currently, many organizations utilize a software system for portfolio and resource management that streamlines staged development work. As an organization recognizes a need to mature the front end of its pipeline, consideration should be given to implementation of software support for product line roadmapping, concept generation, and feasibility assessment processes. Significant gains can be made when these sub-process software applications are then integrated – yielding a bespoke front-to-back solution in support of the full NPD architecture. This is particularly important because as capabilities mature, top management will want to view and optimize portfolio and resource utilization across the full architecture.

It is important to gain agreement across all levels of management on a practical timeline for implementing a full architecture of NPD and integrating the sub processes.

5. Establish a reasonable implementation timeline: It is important to gain agreement across all levels of management on a practical timeline for implementing a full architecture of NPD and integrating the sub processes. This timeline should reflect both the design and deployment work needed as well as the time to achieve capabilities advancements throughout the organization.

As you plan your implementation and integration of NPD processes and/or seek to correct missteps along the way, you’ll find there are resources as well as experts that can assist you. Once you’ve gained the knowledge you need and put a plan in place, you’ll have the confidence to move forward and seek assistance in areas where you recognize gaps. The sooner you get started, the quicker you’ll experience the significant value of the full architecture of NPD processes.

Next Steps

I expand on these tips and also outline seven common mistakes (so that you don’t have to make them) when implementing the full architecture of NPD in my recent whitepaper: Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Integrating New Product Development Processes.

And you can also access a lively webinar discussion on this topic: 2 Views on 4 Keys to Integrating a Winning NPD Process and follow The Adept Group Blog.

By Paul O’Connor

The Adept Group

Skärmavbild 2014-02-11 kl. 14.51.31The Adept Group helps organizations increase the productivity of New Product Development investments. We couple knowledge, experience, consulting skills, and software tools to lead and assist clients around the world in improving their product development productivity. We help organizations develop and improve their capabilities to do the “right products right.”

The Adept Group focuses on NPD productivity delivered by leveraging our capabilities on three professional service platforms:

  • Knowledge Sharing (Specialized workshops, Workout sessions and Summits)
  • Facilitative Consulting (Focused on productivity and value creation)
  • Software and Enablers (RiskAssessor™, PortView™, RoadMappingRampUp™, PPM Analytics, and software selection and enabling services)

For more information, visit the Adept Group website. adept-plm.com.

About the author

Paul O’Connor, founder and managing director of The Adept Group, has been a major force and a creative voice in the field of new product development (NPD) for 25+ years. During this time, he has developed and implemented a number of innovative approaches to creativity, innovation, and productivity in NPD and is a leading expert on product line roadmapping. His clients include a wide range of global companies across industries.


Photo: A set of golden eggs by Shutterstock.com

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