Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Survey Results - IC NPD Project Challenges

Interested to know what project execution challenges New Product Development (NPD) teams in the semiconductor industry are experiencing? Back in June I initiated a survey to research semiconductor development project execution and I will be sharing the results with you in this blog post. Thanks to those who spent the time to respond. The survey is still open here if you wish to participate with only 7-10 minutes of your time. Those who complete the survey receive a link, allowing the monitoring of real time results.

This survey targeted three specific areas for new product development projects in the semiconductor industry. The information collected related to project overruns, scope change and the positive or negative sources of impact to project execution. Click on the images for a full size view of the data.

Project Overruns
Estimating a figure for percentage of average overruns is not a simple task, considering that projects will have different levels of difficulty and risk. Given this complexity I was surprised to find a fairly consistent response for schedule overruns to be in the 10-30% range with a good average of 20%. There were a few outside the normal distribution, however the average was well distributed around 20%.

For cost overruns, I clearly did not have enough resolution in the 20-50% range. Most of the responses landed on the 20-50% figure, which should have been further broken down into two or three ranges. The distribution was again fairly consistent with a few inputs outside of the standard deviation.

Project Overruns

Positive and Negative Impact Sources
These questions were ranking a list of 10 sources of impact to project execution. The largest contributor to project impact was the overall requirements. The surprise for me was the project impact due to customer involvement. That was one of lowest contributors to project performance, indicating the customers involvement plays a minimal role in project performance relative to other factors.

Also noteworthy was where tool issues showed up on the list. The lower ranking relative to other contributors confirms that improving tools will not provide a significant benefit to design execution, relative to other more dominant factors. The individual objectives/deliverables, overall requirements, planning and project leadership will provide a more significant impact to a design teams productivity than the tool flow.

Project Impact Sources

Scope Change
These two questions intended to identify the level of feature creep that occurs on projects. Feature growth appears to average around 20% and feature shrinkage comes in at just under 10%. Again, this question was probably difficult to pin a number on, however the data was surprisingly consistent.

Project Feature Changes

Around middle of this month there will be a continuation of this post with discussion on mitigating the negative sources of impact noted in this survey. Keep an eye out for that topic.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do you Know Where the Roadblocks to NPD Revenue are?

Do you know the quiet, behind the scenes roadblocks that are delaying your New Product Development (NPD) revenue plans?
How much time are your engineers spending quietly fighting with tools or reworking information they received to get it into a form they can use? Maybe there is some specific type of information someone needs that would significantly improve the timing or quality of their contribution. Awareness of project execution barriers such as these is critical in developing solutions that enable a predictable and streamlined path to new product revenue. Uncovering the hidden execution roadblocks will prove elusive for most organizations, unless a focused effort and a proper set of detective skills are applied.

Learn more about finding
the elusive roadblocks here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Commencing on a Path to Continuous Improvement

Let's assume we are ready to break out from the pack and shift our efforts to include a real sustained, continuous focus on improving for each and every project. How would we do that? Many car manufacturers have attempted this mind set shift with varying levels of success. It's not an easy overnight change. It's top to bottom change in the way we approach projects and will take multiple projects to migrate the culture of the organization in this new direction.

The absolute first step is to define what continuous improvement is to be for your organization. What's the mission for continuous improvement? Write it down and share it, review it, and gain a majority consensus from your team as to the mission. When you say continuous improvement, what do you want that to mean to each member of your organization. Is it an unenthusiastic "yeah, we are working to improve" or is it a wholehearted "yes, for every project we engage upon we have three improvement actions we do. We can't start a project without these in place". It's a culture change and it requires routine nourishment from the top to thrive. Consider how you could inspire a passion that will propel continuous improvement from project to project.

Continuous Improvement defined: Uninterrupted, without time boundaries, without content boundaries, without intermission. It's not just deciding to look at how your last project was done or how you are doing a specific task. If at some point in time you decide to look at how you're doing things; that is not continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is not a snapshot look at your situation; it's a never-ending pursuit of removing the barriers to NPD execution excellence.
Continuous improvement is:

  • Postmortems with actions and tracking of action closure for every project.
  • An environment that seeks out and generates actions for doing things different.
  • An open door policy on the subject of project waste and always taking action for mitigation of that waste.
  • An emphasis on "why not" instead of "why" when looking at doing things differently.
  • Iterative experimentation for project improvements. This is real trials of ideas, not paper exercises.
  • An always, never ending search for procedural improvements that benefit time to revenue.
If you are not a believer in continuous improvement your team will sense this and any potential benefit will be lost at the starting gate. You must become a believer yourself. Develop your continuous improvement passion within, before engaging your team. Best of luck and do let me know how you are doing on your quest to stand out from the crowd on NPD execution.