Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Invest Time in Discovery to Realize Compressed Time to Revenue

Having been successful in making the tradeoff between what's important and what's urgent from my previous posting you now you have allocated time to invest in a better tomorrow. How will you be investing this reclaimed time? I am certain you have a list of items in mind that you have wanted to do for a while; a list comprised of the known issues that impact productivity.

There are changes we know that will bring improvement and then there are the deficiencies that are silently stealing away cycle time, the unknowns. If an improvement effort is to realize expected results, both the known and the unknown roadblocks must be addressed. For those that have been reading my newsletters for while, or have attended one of my workshops the concept of an unknown is not new to you, although the definition may still be a bit baffling.

The simplest definition for unknowns in the NPD process is that they are essential activities or deliverables that are largely unknown to the vast majority of the team. By definition they are unplanned and untraceable, even though they are essential to a products success. Essentially they are hidden and unmanaged roadblocks to your NPD flow that will manifest themselves as unexpected surprises, spawning a flurry of activities to "make things right". Interestingly, unknowns also tend to be systemic issues that are repeated project after project; therefore keen detective work is in order to bring them to the surface, where they can be managed.

Investing time on important activities that improve your NPD time to revenue must include time spent on finding the unknown roadblocks in your development process. A formal discovery activity is the best course of action and should be the beginning of any renewal or reengineering effort for your NPD process. The following three links will provide additional insight into the discovery of unknown and unmanaged activities:
Discovery & Solution Newsletter
Improving Project Predictability (Chip Design Magazine)
Enable Predictable Design Execution by Looking Beyond Tools and Flows (Embedded Intel Design Magazine)

Any NPD process re-engineering must begin with formal discovery. Failure to do so will leave your shiny new process with holes in it, leading to continued surprises on your projects and the flurry of activity to "make things right".

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