NPD Tales

Ideas Thoughts and Comments on Product Development

Increasing NPD Productivity – Integration (5 of 5)

The previous posts have focussed in turn on the three key factors influencing NPD productivity (People, Project and Portfolio).  However substantial improvements to the overall performance of NPD activities can be achieved by examining the interface between all the associated elements of the three factors – for example.

- Resource availability influencing project prioritisation

- Engineer motivation being increased by communicating the reasoning behind portfolio management decisions

- Having a real time exchange of resource planning and project planning throughout the life of the project to adapt to changes in project schedule or priorities

- Effective communication of the results of project reviews to ensure engineers are not ‘left in the dark’

- Identifying the dependence of sales forecasts on launch date to ensure project planning and control are meeting business needs

- Feeding back project review results to drive portfolio management activities and adjusting priorities of all projects accordingly

The list is almost endless and the key is a dynamic exchange of information.  How can that be achieved?

I’ve raised the subject of Enterprise Wikis before and there is an increase in the number of real time collaborative tools (like SamePage, BaseCamp and MS SharePoint).  Some even suggest that a complex extension of highly integrated ERP or PLM tools are the answer.  I feel that understanding the need for such exchange of information is as important as the choice of tool.

Enterprise Wikis

Put simply a Wiki is a website that allows the user to create and edit pages through a browser interface.

Besides the ubiquitous Wikipedia there are an increasing number of organisations using a Wiki to collect and maintain a body of knowledge about their activities.  Many of these examples are focussed on new product development.

In such an Enterprise Wiki implementation, any user can start or edit a page on any subject from the results of customer research through to a product launch plan via a discussion on some enabling technology or software feature list.  Anything that would normally be discussed in an e-mail thread or documented in a networked ‘Project Folder’ can be part of such a Wiki

The simplest Enterprise Wiki utilises a raw engine with no pre-existing structure.  All the pages associated with a particular subject or product can be linked from a series of index pages (and indeed it is the organic growth of this index page that ends up defining the overall structure).  There are also product development specific Wiki based collaborative tools and Wiki add-ons to existing collaboration tools which have a basic structure as a starting point.

Either way, if you are finding that communication of information is an issue in your product development activities then explore Enterprise Wikis as a solution.