Taking a product from idea to launch is not a simple task. Projects are complex and when you are dealing in the world of hardware development, you can’t just undo what’s been done by pressing “delete.”
So when do you know it’s time to reevaluate your approach to driving projects forward, faster? Here are 11 signs that you need to look at Lean and Agile process improvement...
Nothing tells you something needs to change more clearly than the fact your project is late. With the speed of change in the market today, and the importance of first-mover advantage, late projects mean millions in lost profit. Read more about the cost of project delay here.
It’s unclear what tasks are critical and what the project priorities are
We all know the critical path is, well, critical. But somehow project teams can’t keep track of priority tasks at the individual level to keep projects moving forward. When team members are stretched across projects, knowing what the real priority is gets even murkier.
Everyone knows if you aren’t working on the critical path today, the project will slip by one day. But not many people realize how quickly this builds up and creates a very late project! Check out this video which demonstrates the BIGGEST cause of late projects — daily slips — and ask yourself and your teammates if you know what the number one priority is for each of your projects today?
Project status is elusive
Some hardware projects can be so complex, that real-time project status is elusive. Not only does it take a lot of time for the project manager to consult across sub-subproject teams, the answers they get are usually inaccurate, or have changed by the time they’re reported in a meeting. With today’s technology, there’s no excuse for this. Project status should be measured in multiple ways, and the information should be accurate and always up to date with the push of a button.
Poor communication leads to all sorts of problems. Lost tasks, meaningless work, foggy understanding of the bigger picture, and delayed handoffs. Does your left hand know what the right hand just finished?
Change requests aren’t being handled as efficiently as possible
Change is a given in product development. So the ability for the team to respond to change requests can be "make or break" for on time delivery. Is your team able to respond to changes on the fly without missing a beat?
Ineffective process can result in unnecessary cost overruns. A common example is rushing orders on parts that have long lead times, but somehow never get ordered until the last minute.
Tasks falling through the cracks
In the best case scenario, lost tasks mean the team isn’t working as effectively as possible. In the worst case scenario, missing tasks can mean losing sight of the critical path and causing the project to slip one month. Worse, when procurement is delayed, a missing part can sometimes mean all hands off deck until the part arrives.
When priorities aren’t clear within a project, or across projects, teams are forced to multitask in order to keep everyone happy, and “keep everything moving.” We’ve written extensively about the fact that multitasking just doesn’t work. Projects move forward faster when critical resources are cleared to focus entirely on the task at hand until it is complete.
Let’s face it, you’ve hired the highest performers that— by their very nature—don’t like to fail. All of these slip-ups can cause the team to experience higher-levels of stress. Without the process and tools in place, they can’t get their job done to the best of their ability. Project delays cause unnecessary stress for all team members.
Morale is low among the team
Once the stress ball gets rolling, it’s hard to stop. Perceived failure results in low morale. Which then results in…dreaded high project turn over.
High project turnover is the ultimate byproduct of low morale. High turnover impacts time to market as project slips occur while you are out trying to hire the next great team member to fill the gap.
If you are experiencing more than three of these signs, it may be time to rethink your approach to project management and product development. Want to kick project delays to the curb?
Check out what really drives project delays, and then reach out to the team at Playbook to find out about our free trial.