Process Definition Workshop

Whether you have an established process in place or want to implement a stage/phase-gate process, we can assist with improving your process or defining and implementing a process.  This is done by conducting a process definition workshop with key personnel who understand the various aspects of product development. This workshop would undertake the following activities.

Define Phase and Gates

If you have a process in place, is it a lean process or does it have too many time-delaying reviews at the wrong points?  Are reviews overly conservative given at what points they are conducted?  Are reviews formalized with clear and timely decisions?  Are there well-defined process steps and deliverables defined in each phase?  Do development team members adhere to the process and complete all deliverables prior to holding a review? If you have concerns about any of these issues, we can assist with identifying and correcting these issues.

Define Process and Deliverables

Once gates are defined, the next step is to define the process steps and deliverables that should be performed in each phase.  We have significant experience in helping companies define a robust product development process.  We have established a best practices-based development process for different industries that we can use as a starting point or work starting with a blank page.  This process definition typically covers the tasks that need to be pe3rformed in each phase, the deliverables produced, the responsibilities for the tasks and deliverables, and standard templates, formats or guidance for the preparing various deliverables.

One of the decisions will be how to document this process – a procedure, flowchart, web page, or project portfolio management software tool.  We have used all of these methods, but we have found that a software tool such as PD-Trak not only is a good method to document this process, but also guides the project team is following this process, serves as a repository for collecting project deliverables, and facilitates gate reviews.

We generally use a workshop format as the means to work with a cross-functional team to define or improve the product development process.  The format for this workshop is as follows.

The workshop can start with a “clean sheet”, use any elements of your process as a starting point, or use our best practices-based product development process as a starting point.  The steps are:

  1. Define the phase gate process for new process development by identifying key tasks and milestones.  Determine points at which a management review is needed for effective portfolio management and risk management (these points define the gates). Determine phase/stage and gate terminology.  Determine phase objectives statements for each phase/stage.
  2. Identify the cross functional tasks and responsibilities for each phase/stage.
  3. Develop document deliverable template formats.
  4. Review relevant client systems and tools for defining the process and planning projects.  Consider investigating software tools for this purpose.  Determine how the process will be defined – procedures, flowcharts, software tools, etc.  Assign actions to select or develop support tools to be used.  Define the process in the selected format and with the selected tools.
  5. Define the gate review process.  Identify the gatekeepers.  Define when will gate reviews be held and how will gate decisions be made.  Create gate review ground rules.
  6. Develop the implementation plan.

Participants

The participants would include cross-functional management team members that have responsibility for the product development process. There should be no more than 10 participants, preferably fewer. The following profiles can be used as a guide to selecting the right participants:

Product Development Leader

The person with the overall responsibility for product development.

Design Engineering / R&D

One technical leader who can represent the technical departments which will be involved in new product development.

Project Management Office / Project Manager

If a project management office (PMO) exists, one or more leaders of this function.   If a PMO does not exist, then a project manager, project leader or project engineer.

Marketing/Product Management

A senior marketing manager or product manager who can represent the Marketing or Product management function.

Manufacturing/Operations

One technical leaders representing manufacturing engineering or process engineering.

Finance

One leader from the Finance group that are in a position to give input to target costing, product development cost management or design to cost, business case development, portfolio management (i.e. the methods used for assessing financial attractiveness of proposed projects), project cost tracking, and capital expenditure requests. 

Other Functional Disciplines

As needed, we would call upon other functional leaders to contribute to the definition of the product development process such as Purchasing/Procurement, Test Engineering, Quality/Quality Engineering, etc.

Materials Needed

Conference room with at least one large blank wall, a roll of large paper, LCD projector, flip chart with pens, post-it notes, and marker pens.

For further information, contact Kenneth Crow at DRM Associates
Phone +1 310-377-5569
Email: k.crow@npd-solutions.com