Expert's Panel

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    What is the best methodology for monitoring progress of a product through the product development cycle? When would you kill a product during development?

  1. When you are in the product development cycle, focus first on the most important attributes you have to solve. This may be a process you need to master before you build a whole tool or complete a whole project. If you get that done first, the rest will follow naturally. Throughout the process you need to be constantly flushing the right ideas through. Constantly manage by walking around—keep in touch. From the MRS to the engineering development cycle there should be a milestone chart with some key gates that have to happen and are date sensitive. Have a review on the targeted dates and stick religiously to the schedule. If there is a problem during the review cycle you have to reset the clock and get it resolved. As to when you would kill a product in the cycle, there are some triggers. If some new product or widget comes along that makes it clearly obvious you are on the wrong track, it is an easy decision to say stop. Another trigger is if you go out of bounds on your cost or investment scenario. The kill decision is a hard one and, if made, you will need to get others to buy into it, particularly if senior management has a vested interest.
  2. I worked with a CMP startup company and we maintained a war room. All the information on the project was taped to the walls and every morning we had a discussion to make sure progress was on track. Any glitches stood out and were obvious to everyone.
  3. The biggest problem in our industry is that we don't make kill decisions often enough. The reason is there is always somebody's personal career or reputation on the line. We are so worried about protecting it that we often don't listen to what people are saying.
  4. The thing to remember is that there are advocates for both killing it and keeping it alive. If you are an advocate for the former and you don't push hard on your convictions, guess whose head will get chopped if it goes ahead and then dies in the market. There is nothing worse than taking a bad product decision to market and suffering two to three times the economic loss than you would have if you stopped it, even at the back end of development.