What is Lean Product Development (Part III)

In my previous article, we established some high-level objectives for lean product development as follows:

  • Better understand the customer (maximize customer value)
  • Do the right projects (product, project and portfolio value analysis)
  • Do projects right (minimize waste and rework)
  • Level load the organization (minimize bottlenecks and resource constraints)
  • Create and re-use artifacts (standardize and sustain best practices)

These might be considered “enterprise” level objectives…some or all of the objectives might be part of a product development organizational strategy depending on it’s size or number of product development projects.

Some tools and methodologies that enable lean product development include:

  • Project Portfolio Management (Project Selection Process)
  • Project Governance Structure
  • Product Development Phase and Gate Structure (Product Life Cycle Process)
  • Requirements Management (Requirements Value Analysis, Requirements Validation)
  • Design for Six Sigma (Optimized Designs)
  • Product and Project Financial Estimating Tools / Templates
  • Project Management (including resource Management)
  • Develop and Re-Use Artifacts
  • Agile Product Development 

Although it’s a somewhat long list, it is tailor-able to any size organization.  For example, a small organization might benefit from a technical project manager who can facilitate a lean process and reduce overall product development risk.  A large organization might pursue more substantial resources and tools/infrastructure, like a project management operating system.

A comprehensive needs analysis for your organization might be revealing….do you have too many projects? projects that weren’t ultimately successful? resource constraints? high risk of design rework? sub-optimized designs?  inadequate product margins? difficult-to-manufacture products?

An alternative approach might begin with some awareness of tools and methodologies….define what lean enterprise product development is and down-select the elements of lean that will be most beneficial.

Either way, there is likely ample opportunity to reduce design risks and/or streamline your product development process.  In the next series of articles we’ll further define each of these potential initiatives.