Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. What the Best Performing Manufacturers Do - 3 Strong Communication, Process Visibility, Relevance to all Business Teams and how to Move at Pace Essential Product Development for Engineers
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Strong Communication: This is a common theme that applies to all the areas listed below. By encouraging continual communication between individuals and teams, the likelihood of product development success is increased. Communication should be encouraged in all forms including, data, paper, noticeboards, active listening, clear instructions and group discussions.
Raising Product Development Process Visibility
Related to this point, make sure your product development process is visible. Blow it up and mount it on the walls and noticeboards. Have it in project plans and folders, make sure it is accessible on your IT network. Can it be represented as a diagram, with visual impact? Importantly make sure engineers refer to it frequently. Use it when chairing review and technical meetings. Make sure you are working to the process with on-going development projects.
Making the Product Development Process relevant to all in the Business
Once your product development plan is a little more mature, why not formally communicate it to the whole business? Launch it, presenting it to all teams and departments, perhaps customising it by highlighting which parts are relevant for them. Sell the advantages of a formal product development process for the whole business. Decide if key suppliers should be informed, so they can plan, get involved at relevant points and meet your demands.
Consider installing a development notice board and establishing a location on your IT network where employees can get updates and news about product development project progress. Likewise, headlines from development programme meetings and reviews should feature in corporate bulletins and newsletters. This will raise the role, awareness and profile of product development, showing employees the business is serious about it. Use CAD models, diagrams, drawings and images of prototypes. Importantly, communication is key – what’s the point of doing things if nobody knows about it?
Frequent Reference to the Process: Adapt and Refine
Constantly refer to your product development process. Engineers need to be disciplined and stick to the procedure. Don’t be tempted to ‘do any old thing, to get the prototype or product through the door’. Instead, tweak and refine your process, noting what works and adapting what doesn’t. At some stage, this means documenting it to capture what you do. The level of formality should suit your business. If your product development activities are successful, you need them to be repeatable. Adapting your process, to reflect success will give you that repeatability.
More Suggestions where strong communication assists you achieve your aims:
The Importance of Moving at Pace
Move at Pace. Keep the momentum going whilst undertaking product development activities. Plan with milestones that stretch performance. Reporting and other methods of communication need to take place frequently. Those involved need to inform others, including senior managers. Reporting should include progress to date, together with short term plans looking forward. Create a sense of expectation. Build this into the way you work. Importantly, promptness and urgency in day-to-day activities will get your product to market quicker. In turn, this will deliver more profit over a longer lasting product life-cycle.
Practical tips to keep Things Moving at Pace
To move through the product development process at pace, try and do 2 things:
Empower Team Members and Watch them Fly
Empower those working in product development to take decisions and move things along. As part of this, ensure their boundaries and responsibilities are clear at the start, as well as reviewed throughout. The project leaders should guide, coach and encourage, as well as instruct product development tasks. Giving engineers and technicians the freedom to get on and do, against the process, gives a real sense of empowerment. The result is often raised morale and greater productivity.
Back to Product Development Essentials
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