In today’s fast-moving world, a business’ durability is judged by its ability to create or adapt new offerings to a constantly changing market. It’s therefore not surprising that a recent Deloitte survey reported innovation as a strategic priority for European businesses, with 88 per cent expecting their innovation budgets to increase over the next two years.
However, the path to innovation is often challenging to navigate. The speed and urgency behind market-leading innovation requires product teams to quickly prioritise projects, plan for the future, keep an eye on current operations, and anticipate roadblocks, all whilst hitting their deadlines.
Here are five important processes project managers should adopt to ensure their new product development plans run without a hitch.
- Prioritise accurately
Planning out a clear vision for your product roadmap allows you and your teams to focus on your most important work and vital projects. Create specific processes for ad hoc requests to ensure urgent matters are addressed without sacrificing your team's ability to properly prioritise items already in the pipeline.
Failure to prioritise can lead to unnecessary delays, which can result in missed opportunities, lost profits, and customers who lose interest and trust in your company altogether.
Avoid this by determining which metrics are the most important to understand in order to meet customer demand, the market opportunity, and the company’s plan. These metrics can be used to prioritise every request received.
- Streamline your processes
To keep up in a constantly changing market, project managers should look to digital solutions that connect teams and workflows, and provide structure for core, often time-consuming processes. This way employee work aligns with best practices, freeing up workers to be more creative and strategic, improving both their experience and the outcome. The Workfront State of Work research highlights this, showing that 65 per cent of workers believe automation will give them the time to do their primary job responsibilities.
An example of this in action is the New Product Introduction (NPI) group at Citrix who faced the common challenges of static updates, manual updates and difficult status reporting. They had fact-based data manually generated and managed, but what they wanted was a single repository for real-time data tracking and an automated way to clearly show project status in relation to major milestones, delinquent tasks, and analytics to performance.
Once NPI streamlined their process for more than 450 users, which centralised and standardised all projects and provided everyone on the immediate team, and anyone across the organisation associated with a project or task, with complete project visibility. The NPI group experienced a 35 per cent drop in email activity as Workfront delivered a single source of truth. Time spent in compliance meetings was reduced by 50 per cent, and instant status updates and faster workflows enhanced cross-team collaboration and helped drive more timely closure of tasks and issues.
- Adapt to your team’s work styles
Make sure processes support the work styles of your product team, whether they prefer agile, waterfall, or a hybrid of methodologies. When you allow your people and teams to work in the style and environment of their choice, and connect their work, your employees not only work faster and better, but workflow data is centralised. This allows you to find and remove barriers in real-time, reallocate resources, and achieve more accurate forecasting and planning.
- Encourage visibility and flexibility
You can’t innovate if you don’t have a team to deliver the work. A modern work management platform can help to accurately forecast team member bandwidth, so the right work is completed by the right person at the right time. This can prevent frustration with processes, and urgent requests being funnelled to the team’s top talent, which in turn can create bottlenecks, burnout, and even high staff turnover rates.
Devro is a food manufacturing company offering a range of high-quality, collagen-based casing products to more than 1,000 global customers. Visibility for the executive leadership into the status and progress of global projects was a primary goal, along with promoting closer collaboration among global project teams. It is common for Devro to have three different teams working on one product. One region could be responsible for launching the product that was manufactured by a different region, based on technical expertise of yet another region. Devro wanted a business enablement tool that would strike the right balance between bringing everyone into the same workflows and serving the unique needs of each team.
Using software to encourage visibility and flexibility Devro was able to centralise the various documents, images, and other product development materials into a single repository, giving any authorised user instant access to the information they need on demand. Devro went from having six different countries operating different product development processes and governance models to everyone using the same platform and workflows. Now there are fewer emails sent back and forth, meetings are more focussed and more productive, and the right people have the visibility into every project to make smarter decisions about which ones to pursue and which to let go.
- Practice open feedback
Speed of execution can be the determining factor between struggling and thriving as an organisation. Businesses should adopt a culture of open feedback from all levels within a team. A culture of transparency ensures that businesses are better able to overcome blind spots and respond quickly to changes.