This is a guest post by Therese Graff from Strategy 2 Market, a Playbook partner about the importance of planning in Lean product development. Therese Graff is a product development professional with extensive experience in medical devices, IVD and single use devices. Her expertise includes streamlining the product development process and integration with quality/ design control systems.
Therese began her career at Abbott Laboratories and progressed through various positions including a transition from assay development to complex instrument project management, including hardware and software.
Therese earned a BS from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with concentrations in Chemistry and Biochemistry, and an MBA from The University of Chicago.
"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." - Benjamin Franklin
There is a lot of truth in this statement, especially when developing products. In this post, we will demonstrate the:
1) Value of planning; and,
2) How to document the plan.
Value of Planning in Lean Product Development
Let’s compare a project to taking a trip in a car to a place you have never been to. What would happen if you just jumped in the car and drove? So, how do you approach the trip? You identify the destination. Then you look at some maps to determine the best way to get there. You may look for construction zones to avoid them.
When time is important, you evaluate different routes to find the fastest way to reach your destination. You figure out the total distance and determine how well you are doing by checking the miles traveled along the way and calculating the distance to your destination.
Now let’s evaluate these road trip activities in project planning language.
- Define the scope (destination): Projects need to have a clear objective. You lay out the goal which ensures everyone on the project clearly knows what needs to be delivered. This helps manage misunderstandings about the project and minimize scope changes.
- Develop the project plan or approach (maps): Projects also need a clear vision for how you reach that objective. When planning any project, identifying the steps or tasks, along with who is responsible, provides everyone a common view on how the project will be completed.
- Reduce risk (avoiding construction zones): All projects have risk and unexpected things will crop up along the way. However, many of the potential problems can be anticipated and, as a project, can be avoided or the impact mitigated. The planning process helps you:
1) to anticipate these issues and address them before they become a problem; 2) to have a plan ready in case you need to respond.
Define task priorities (fastest route): Most projects have several paths of activities that are running concurrently to complete the project. One of those will determine how fast the project can be completed (critical path or critical chain depending on your methodology). By focusing on completing that set of critical activities, you complete the project as fast as possible.