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    What are good arguments to executive management when you are being pushed to release a product to soon?

  1. There is nothing worse than having a defective product that sells 5-6 units, or 8-10 when you thought you might sell 100s. You never get free of it. The problem is you sold just enough to tarnish your reputation. When the boss is pushing you to get it out there, walk him through all of the after sale costs that he is going to come up against based upon lack of performance, etc. It is better to take the sunk cost of not getting it out there than live with the on-going costs of those 8 or 10 defective units in the marketplace. They are poisoning the market and bleeding you of cash. If that doesnít get the bossí attention, I donít know what would. A good example is the Applied Materials 740 Barrel. The first barrel epi reactor that we shipped about 85% complete. Initial units came back to us about two months later in the back of a pickup truck and were dumped on our dock. If the industry hadnít been relatively young, at that time, and full of opportunists that could see the technology was great when it worked, that probably would have broken Applied Materials. Because it showed enough promise customers were willing to work with us on improving it.
  2. I think it is dependent upon how close you are to the initial customer and if there is an issue, can you isolate it to this customer. If the company wants to get it out to an initial customer that is one thing. It is different selling 8 or 9, essentially beta, units. That is a recipe for disaster.
  3. You need to identify why the boss wants to get it out there so bad. The company may be in financial trouble or any number of other reasons. Find out the reason and then do a trade off analysis; servicing costs, customer satisfaction and so forth. Then, in a neutral posturing, present that analysis to the boss. If we do this then that. If we do this then that. After your presentation, it is still up to the boss. But remember that, if you are in a small to medium size company, your name will be tagged to that release and customers have long memories. If you feel this might hurt your career, I would be looking for another job. The industry today is just not tolerant of problem products.
  4. A universal law is that upper management will always want to release a product before it is time. Correspondingly people in engineering will never want to release it until it is just right; which of course never materializes. So, if you are able to negotiate it properly in your company the product will not be released as early as management wants, but it will be released before engineering thinks it is ready. If it is a brand new product, tell the early customers over and over and over, that it is new and may have some problems that you will work on with them. Repeat it again and again because they wonít remember that you cautioned them before the purchase.
  5. You can only talk to management with money. How much revenue you will lose if you introduce it too early; will it obsolete the current product too early; the market wonít buy enough at this time. I would suggest you gather actual data and present from a very factual, money driven perspective. That usually gets some attention.