Unnecessary iteration and review of effort is surely a non-value-adding activity that needs to be abolished from the onset!  We have heard it all before, …we called it waste!

The chances of falling into the trap where we are forced to review, redesign or make changes to new products (or services) through the design stages are normally high.  This is particularly true when unstructured design and development practices are presented.  Such unnecessary costs are generally experienced in the design and development stages for any product or service.  Such costs can propagate to exponentially high levels if one is not careful enough.

Such changes commonly result in complicated revision control and change management procedures.  Possibly, several missed deadlines with unprecedented delays follow, with a net result of undue pressures that are exerted on the whole system (comprising of the design, development, production and delivery teams, and ultimately, the customer!).

Expensive modifications result in cost overruns and unclear product or service definition. Design and development faults undoubtedly also involve change controls associated with tooling and equipment, software, processes, and procedure updates.  The knock-on effect generally hits on all that goes into the delivery of the eventual new product or service.

Such rework exposes the organisation to a risk of injury to reputation.  It exerts a negative impact on the morale of your own people.  It can be very damaging, and all this even before the ‘production issues’ have yet hit your upcoming agenda!

From what I see, this is pretty commonplace in new product or service launches. A dreadful experience by many leaders involved in the rollout of novel products or services. This can be witnessed across various business segments: a classical example lies within the more tangible manufacturing organisations. But, I have also come across such ‘launch difficulty’ within the intangible business sector. To mention a few scenarios from this type of business segment, we have possibly all seen reversals and amendments associated with the launch of new or revised services offered by say a hospitality establishment, or a financial institution.

Within the development stages of any product or service, we need to steer away from fundamental attitudes within involved teams, that may allow for unnecessarily gradual evolution, and iteration (corrections!) of the proposed design.

For a change, we need to predominantly focus on more disciplined product/service design considerations that are contemplated to be critical, from a customer perspective. This must happen earlier on in the design and development stages. The involved teams must focus on better controlled design parameters.  These need to ensure the reduction of unnecessary design modifications further down the line.

Assessing our designed product (or service) purely by adopting a build-and-test approach can be pricy. The healthier attitude would possibly be to proactively think of the performance expectations for the product/service.  Representative modelling and simulation, if and wherever this is possible, may help.  Accurate modelling and simulation ingrained early within the design stages provide less probability to having to fix problems occurring later in life.  Particularly as a result of performance failure from the newly launched product or service.

It goes without saying that quality needs to be designed into the product or service.  The design must assure a robust solution.  Rolling out a dodgy product/service that needs to be “tested out on the market” may prove to be too much of a high risk!

The need for a design and development framework

In order to minimise these horrendous situations, organisations need to establish their own holistic structures within their design and development processes. Such structures must enable them to build their own dynamic and continually reviewable system for taking their innovative development through the design stages, and onto the launch, with the least aggravations possible.  This lifecycle must happen with the most effective and conceivable time to market.

The delivered new product or service must be one that the customers must fall in love with, at the very first exposition! We can hardly rely on second chances in this game. Rather, it might be considered more of a love-hate relationship!

The systematic approach leading to a successful design should integrate all the involved interested parties, the essential processes involved, and the appropriate tools and information required. This integration should be accomplished with the right set of principles and best practices in place.  These shall enable the organisation to reliably and repeatedly deliver its own top-quality product or service, in as smooth a route, as possible.  With the least of interruptions.

With the new product/service being out there in no time, and with this being well placed (with no recalls, rework or suspension of delivery) secures a stronger chance to capture early market interest for your product/service.

This results in the effective realisation of that aspired competitive advantage.

An effective framework for an organisation’s product or service, and its development process path, should ensure that it aligns all involved internal functions and parties. This further extends to the external parties, such as the main suppliers. In other words, silos need to be demolished!  Organisations need to ensure alignment and flow across the entire design and development process.

Management needs to focus on as inclusive and viable a decision-making process as possible.  The design and development plan should suitably merge into aligned teams involved in the process.

The development framework needs to ensure that the relevant stakeholders are engaged.  That they are connected.  That all people are working towards the same objective, seeking to achieve common priorities.  All team elements must therefore seek to meet the same deadlines and deliverables.

Decisions taken along the way need to be understood by everyone involved in the process.  In this manner, all parties should actually be looking at the same situation, backed by the right set of information, and know what problems need to be solved.

We shall pause slightly at this point of the discussion and continue the article in the subsequent publishing.  Within Part (II) of this article, we shall explore to some further depth, the considerations necessary for this framework, introduced within this debate.

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