Product and process technology is quickly evolving, and competition with opponents is becoming tougher across the globe. Customers are emphasizing enhanced features and authenticity, but reduced defense spending requires stress on excellence and affordability. These changing and challenging circumstances require the implementation of integrated product development concepts to lessen development cycle time and strengthen product quality when delivered to the customer.
Integrated Product Development (IPD) focuses on the integrated design of products and production and support processes. The design of the product and the process must be combined to ensure the optimal approach to manufacture and support the product.
What Is the Importance of the Product Team?
The role of the Product team is to execute business strategy while also playing the purpose of market advocate. They confirm that ideas implemented are in association with the overall corporate strategy. Product team leads the company to deliver competitive products that are in line with market needs and help the company reach business goals.
The following points characterize a good product team.
- The product team has a clear understanding of customers’ challenges and goals. As a team they share a strong purpose and vision and work tirelessly to solve the problem they are facing.
- The product team lists assumptions for each product or list feature idea and convert these to testable theories. They spend A LOT of time on researching and testing.
- The product team builds their roadmaps around hurdles that they would like to solve for the customers.
- The product team involves the whole team in resolving customer challenges. The entire team is employed in designing, prototyping and testing a solution.
- After the product teams delivers a new feature, they measure the success of it based on the insights of the initial customer discovery.
- Customer feedback and insights enable the team to learn tirelessly and they try out new approaches for solving their customers’ problems.
- They have an overall idea of the existing solutions that customers have. They assume what customers struggle with, and what the potentials for improvements could be.
- The product team is conscious that what is accomplished today might not be the best solution tomorrow. They continuously seek feedback from users, customers, and leads, and are conscious of where the market is moving. They update the customer pain points, personas, customer goals, and product expectations.
- The product team doesn’t work in isolation. They collude closely with sales, marketing, and support teams. They impart a lean approach for learning and responding to customer behavior all across an organization.
- The product team will understand the latest technology first and will adopt it only after experimenting with it and ensuring to achieve the solution that fits users' actual usage and expectations. They will contribute to building conceptual MVPs and testing product ideas, rather than wasting valuable time on perfecting technology before placing it in front of users.
What Are Integrated Product Teams?
An integrated product team (IPT) is a multidisciplinary combination of people who are collectively accountable for delivering a designated product or process.
The emphasis of the IPT is on the relationship of all stakeholders in a collaborative forum. IPTs were introduced to the U.S. in 1995 as part of the major acquisition reforms to the way goods and services were acquired.
IPTs are used in complex development programs/projects for inspection and decision making. The emphasis of the IPT is on the involvement of all stakeholders in a collaborative forum.
There are three types of IPTs that every procurement program will implement:
- Overarching IPTs: Concentrate on imperative guidance, program evaluation, and issue resolution
- Working-level IPTs: Recognize and resolve program issues, discover program situation, and examine opportunities for procurement reform
- Program-level IPTs: Focus on program accomplishment and may include representatives from both government and industry after contract award.
Integrated Product and Process Development is the management method that simultaneously integrates all necessary procurement activities through the use of IPT to optimize design, manufacturing, and supportability methods.
The remarkable success of the integrated product and process development (IPPD) at companies such as Boeing, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard has prompted many manufacturers to focus renewed importance on this critical aspect of concurrent engineering.
Below are the principles of integrated product development
- Good consumer relationships, frequent interactions, and feedback practices lead to more solid understanding of customer’s/user’s needs. Customer association enhances the possibility of the product meeting the needs and being successful in the market.
- Integrate product development, R&D with the business strategy and business plans. Defines the influence on time-to-market, product development and competitive advantage.
- Quick implementation of Marketing/ program management, manufacturing, material, test, quality, and product support employees in product improvements reduces design renewals, repetition, and production obstacles. Authorized, self-directed teams have more refined control and are dedicated to development goals.
- The manufacturing and product support methods should be integrated with the design of products in order to optimize the performance and have a seamless product life cycle process implemented.
- Development team members should be associated with the plans and proposals for new products or programs to obtain their input and engagement. Manage non-recurring development expenses by effective planning; incremental, low-risk development; and by maintaining project scope.
- Utilize the expertise of the specialists/ experts during product development and optimize product designs. Control schedule balance and welcome improvements/ suggestions by suppliers/experts to generate more reliable products at lower costs.
- Quality Design, engineering, architecture, and reliable procedures give an efficient way to recognize the role and interaction of products. Implement lessons learned to avoid repeating past mistakes and conduct surveys to ensure all design problems and risks have been properly addressed.
- Integration of CAM mechanisms helps to have design/definition with fewer errors, higher accuracy, and a drop-in lead time to production. Software re-usability with object-oriented design brings a high level of productivity to the software.
- Modeling, interpretation, and simulation tools help to develop and refine both product and process design inexpensively. They also help to develop the design and decrease the number of time-consuming iterations for mock-ups and developmental prototypes.
- Re-engineering the product design process, decreasing the activities which don't provide value, continuous integration of technical tools, design activities, and recommended methodologies will improve the process design.
When Are Integrated Product Teams Crucial?
IPTs organize development group to enable Concurrent Engineering, Integrated Product Development, or Lean Product Development. They are used for the purpose of developing and delivering a product or service to their customer(s). While collaboration and transparency across developments are important for the success of every project, it’s certainly dangerous for complex projects with a significant downstream impact. A quick research of IPTs will reveal that they are crucial as they are associated with defense projects.
How to Form an Integrated Product Team
Creating an IPT takes more than the individuals involved - it requires a well-thought-out framework.
Use the following framework to start organizing your integrated product team:
Customer focus decides the needs of customers, products that meet needs, and current capabilities. Perform a gap analysis on these factors. The organization must cater to the product in IPD, not the other way around. Set up a team and determine required resources like hardware, software, space, and outside contractors.
Communication and Training
Train the team when required. Appoint a team leader who can manage individual team members on the IPD philosophy. Don’t scrimp on investment in training, and use it as an opportunity to cross-pollinate teams who earlier rarely interacted, like business strategy members and software developers.
Improvement of Development Process
Successful product development begins with a tested, clear, and well-executed process. The plan should then follow a logical and disciplined sequence of development phases. Product Development helps to perfect the end-to-end process and this enables a development team to turn great ideas into highly successful products.
Team Relationships and Responsibilities
Team relationships unite design and engineering teams to create a friendly work relationship that transposes to intuitive products. Designers and engineers collaborate to support each other’s phases. This helps teams to create innovative and intuitive products.
Define success and present metrics to different teams for significant comparison. Engineers handling timely delivery, responsiveness, etc are good common measures.
Processes, Activities, and Decisions
IPTs must continuously develop. Divide the task to departmental leaders and team members for recording activity and decisions implemented.
Why Integrated Product Development Fails to Take Hold
There are times when organizations fail to launch integrated product teams or they never do so, and there could be many reasons for this. Even with the most suitable management and employees, an integrated product team might be difficult, if not impossible, to be launched.
Here are some factors to be avoided:
The ideas or concepts may not too hard to understand, but embedding them in the right position requires knowledge of project management and coordination at all levels affiliated with IPD. If the management observes the IPD concept and rearranges the organizational chart without embracing the spirit of the methodology, it will never gain a foothold. A skilled approach and team of consultants might be essential to improve, set up, and mentor everyone in the team.
Setting up preferences is a talent expected from the experts working in the team and the results anticipated may not appear overnight. There may be too many cogs to get the engine active right away. If stakeholders notice a fad project management method and observe that results will not materialize easily, the integrated product team would fail. The required commitment of the team is the key to the success of any project.
Culture of Organization
Every organization’s culture is not set to seamlessly work with IPD principles. A developer workroom may follow Scrum, and a product design agency may acknowledge multi-org coordination. If an organization is resistant to changes, it might not be able to manage IPD.
Clarity of Roles
If there is no concrete direction as to who is accountable for what on a developer team, and who reports to whom, the project would be uncontrollable.
No Follow Up
A vital part of the process is following-up and obtaining the progress reports from the team at regular intervals. If the management isn’t monitoring the process; the team might lose their motivation to work with full zeal.
A meager amount of money and no time to train the IPD practitioners results in negative improvement of the IPD team and they are bound to fail. A long-term investment would boost returns only when it is managed accurately. We attain proficiency not only in mitigating our errors at each iteration but also in enhancing working relationships among team members.
The team members must accept their responsibilities. IPD requires a higher-level of coordination on the part of employees. If team members neglect their roles, the project will collapse for e.g. interacting with vendors has been the purview of account managers, and planning out schedules was the precinct of project managers.
It is essential to analyze, review and realign policies and incentive structures properly, else team members would not cooperate with other team members and this may delay delivery.
Key Factors to Make Ipd Adoption Successful
Below are the key factors which, when followed efficiently, would make IPD adoption successful.
- All stakeholders and management should be aligned to a single objective.
- The owner should marshal the resources required for the project, else it can negatively impact their project by not providing the needed leadership.
- Adopting a scientific strategy and its implementation depends on building the plan, implementation of the plan, and constant review of the implemented plan.
- Sharing the risk of scope and budget between parties helps in establishing the fine line required for the best project economization.
- Implementation of modern methods and technology within the organization framework helps in achieving the end results at high standards.
- Skilled manpower is another essential key factor and organizations should make investments in human capital.
- The customer is the central focus point of IPD. Constant feedback from the customer is essential for IPD to be a success.
IPD is a suitable design approach that, when successfully implemented, can address all the concerns of modern organizations in the globalized world.
Project Management Tools and Integrated Product Development
A product development roadmap template can help to sketch out the high-level concept of your product. However, there is a different way to enhance the process: using the right software tools.
Below are the benefits accrued when using the right product management software:
- Manage your resources more effectively
- Set a more realistic product development schedule
- Find the charts that work for you
- Use real-time reports for deeper insights
- Centralize communication and your product vision
Advantages of Integrated Product Development
What makes IPD so beneficial? Following are the advantages they yield for new product development.
Modernization and Technology
Project innovations in development and manufacturing are needed to beat competitors in the market. Long-play investments in R&D for your current project may pay off in the future because the IPD formed will be working efficiently.
IPD’s principle of continuous process improvement, MVP, and reducing redundancy and rework means that costs will decrease.
Overwhelms Risk of Product Failure
Reinforcing regular communication will result in mitigating design flaws or manufacturing errors. By including stakeholders early on and at all stages of the conversation, issues that could arise in the future can be predicted earlier. If the team is working together well and sharing notes, product failure is unlikely to happen.
Quality and Innovation
Product failure is reduced when the strongest minds of each discipline come together and collaborate, rather than non-practitioners delivering direction or partially-committed vendors just phoning in a one-time job.
IPD’s true advantage is that it encourages participation from all stakeholder organizations. Customer perspectives are brought from research, and intellectual consent from all stakeholders is the only way forward.
Integrated product development theories are not exceptional and new in product development organizations and many of these methods have been used in the past. But as the size and complexity of companies increased, the industry lost many of these practices. The concepts of IPD are simple, but the implementation of these practices and the process of changing a company’s culture is challenging. Success can be achieved with a well-planned and managed effort. Management must understand not only the concepts of IPD but the process of managing change within the organization.
The purpose of IPD is to decrease later stage design changes, decrease project risks, and keep costs low. A company can accomplish the benefits of full life cycle design alongside the efficiency of multi-disciplinary teams by efficiently executing integrated product development processes.