You could argue that the best innovation combines equal parts creativity and structure. The creatives reading this might argue that deadlines and structured decision-making bind creativity, but successful organizations understand the importance of both.
For example, Apple is one of the clearest examples of an innovative company, and they understand the necessity of deadlines. How else could they unveil the latest iteration of the iPhone each fall? In many cases, a product launch is tied to a specific part of the year—snow shovels, turkeys, sunscreen, etc.—these companies have no choice but to maintain strict deadlines. Clearly, one of the most prominent project management challenges organizations face is striking the right balance between creativity and maintaining a disciplined process for getting projects done on time!
Many times, the product development process consists of deliverables that are complex or so time-bound that they need to be managed as projects. The projects that drive products that are not on time, on budget, or on plan, can lead to deferred or lost revenue, and it's more challenging to meet the expectations you set.
Further, you’ll fail to generate value for shareholders. And generating that value requires collaboration with the extended new product development (NPD) process in a company. And that happens through the execution of well-orchestrated projects.
Let’s explore how to prevent those failures to drive higher project success rates and have improved visibility into each project.
The need for available, reliable resource data
The challenge to meeting deadlines comes down to the availability of reliable data to generate insightful metrics like schedule performance index (SPI) and cost performance index (CPI) consistently.
Having a mechanism in place to ensure that all the functions use a consistent tool and framework for planning and execution enables an organization to have the up-to-date information to measure and monitor expectations against actual numbers—the information necessary to build insightful metrics.
Having a proficient data-driven process also allows you to drill down and identify the root cause of any potential issues around resources, schedules and costs.
You need to have the ability to inspect the underlying factors that are determining the health of the project and answer the following questions:
- What tasks are missing deadlines?
- Which ones are running behind?
- What tasks or job functions are exceeding original budget projections?
- What can be done to address these time and resource challenges?
Having a reporting structure built from the bottom up allows you to have visibility into your execution pipeline, increasing the probability of getting your product out on time, under budget and meeting or exceeding expectations.
Addressing project resource planning
According to a Deloitte whitepaper, the typical Fortune 500 company payroll is $1 billion to $2 billion annually, averaging 50% to 60% of annual spending. Despite more significant financial resources, many large organizations struggle to plan, forecast and manage resources. Resource planning challenges are magnified when these organizations attempt to identify all the necessary resources for complex, interconnected projects where careful orchestration of milestones is a critical success factor.
Resource planning challenges are often directly related to an organization's enterprise project management software, which often lacks detailed, updated resource availability data combined with limited data sharing capabilities across business units and job functions. The problem is further exacerbated by disparate, non-communicative tools that vary across departments.
These factors make it challenging to have accurate and reliable information on resource availability and utilization. And having the right people with the right skills tightly scheduled on a project is probably one of the most significant factors in the project's success.
Most organizations need a blend of high-level resource planning projections to earmark resources at an annual level and a set of tools for resource allocation at the individual project level. Whether it's quarterly, monthly or annual planning, you need to view allocation with a much finer granularity. Without that tracking time, reporting on actual utilization and the ability to forecast, projections become guesswork.
It's challenging to do, but that is where a project management office (PMO) and innovation governance teams must collaborate to put the appropriate frameworks and tools into play to identify and analyze reporting, schedule, and cost performance data.
Is your organization equipped with the guardrails to overcome project management challenges and get the new products out on time?
You’ll need thought-out plans to execute against and ensure that you have available resources and the right skills to complete the work. Providing consistent innovation means creating the processes to keep the many projects related to a product launch moving forward and on time and using the right enterprise project management software.
Do you want to higher approval and success rates for your projects? Watch this on-demand webinar and learn how to detailed project and resource management rigor to your innovation initiatives that help you get your innovations out on time, on budget, and on plan.