Most consulting projects deal with the bottom line – reducing costs, eliminating waste and gaining productivity. However, a faster way for more impressive results is often to work on the top line. Does the company services portfolio win its share of work based on its unique offerings? How “aged” is the product line? Does the company have an appropriate process to drive new ideas into the business on a regular basis? Does the company understand that successful companies release more products and services to the market than their competitors?
Our consultants have experience helping clients drive product and new service development across many industries including: internet/storefront services, software developers, manufacturing / industrial, professional services, electronics, advertising / media, financial and insurance.
Centric leverages our extensive business process management and business process innovation expertise to improve performance across end-to-end product lifecycle processes.
Centric offers a full line of product and service development capabilities:
- Portfolio analysis, strategy and capacity planning
- Voice of the customer and requirements gathering
- Product and service development process effectiveness audits
- Product and service development innovation
- Engineering package selection and implementation – CAD/CAM, PDM, Workflow
Portfolio Analysis, Strategy and Capacity Planning
Managing the product and service portfolio is the single most important step in gaining market share. Studies show that companies with “younger” product lines take market share from those with “older” product lines.
Two keys components are necessary for portfolio management in a dynamic environment. First, the company should try to bring many incremental products to market, rather than trying to hit home runs. Second, it’s critical to balance resources to the number of projects. Too many resources leaves engineers, designers and developers overwhelmed and ineffective; too few and the company begins to fall behind the competition. A good rule of thumb is to “succeed fast” and “fail faster.” Don’t drag out efforts on projects that aren’t moving forward. Instead, acknowledge the failure and redeploy the resources to another project.
Centric can design a portfolio plan that balances the needs of the business with the capability to deliver. Our proprietary techniques allow clients to manage their portfolios over time for maximum benefit.
Ideation is the process of coming up with new ideas for products and services and determining if those ideas are valid with the customer. Companies very often get stuck in a rut regarding product ideas. Good ideas do not always have to be exclusively related to a new product. Ideas can positively effect the business model the company uses, partnerships, product channels and many more.
Centric helps organizations struggling with new product or service ideas. We show clients how to innovate and determine programs to inject new life into top-line growth.
Voice of the Customer and Requirements Gathering
Does the company really know how customers are using products or services? Does the company have data regarding what customers think of their products compared to alternatives? Is the company removed from customer feedback through a distributor or a prime contractor? Are customers segmented, with process set in such a way to easily design derivatives or extensions?
Using Centric’s methods and sometimes partnering with competent research firms, Centric helps clients understand how customers see the brand, products and the product and service portfolio.
We develop plans to balance the right amount of customer wants to the business objective in order to create an effective set of requirements for new product and service platforms as well as product programs. We track those requirements through the process in order to ensure maximum results.
Product and Service Development Process Effectiveness Audits
Many companies measure operations processes effectively, but often ignore the measures of product or service development – this is often considered a “black box” that cannot be touched by outsiders. However, most companies readily say the core is the products and services it sells. An overall NPD assessment can sometimes identify very simple changes that can make a huge difference in the company’s top-line revenue.
Centric can design a two through four week effectiveness audit that can be tailored to the following dimensions:
- Financial return on product development expense
- Research spend efficiency
- Product and service customer satisfaction
- Ratio of development expending to revenue and related to competitors
- Product and service platform planning
- Portfolio planning and capacity planning
- Requirements definition
- Industrial design and product engineering
- Systems integration
- Supplier selection and management
- Prototyping and testing
- Engineering change
- Product launch
- Design to cost
- Program management
- Information management
- Collaboration and global design
- Financial controls
- Overall product development process and tools
- Product lifecycle management and refresh
Product/Service Development Innovation
Product and service development is a core competency for most businesses. However, process innovation in this area is often either ignored in companies, or worse yet, driven by leaders who don’t understand the iterative and collaborative nature of development processes and implement rigid procedures and methods.
Alternatively, engineers and designers are notorious for inventing on the program and then taking all the time available to tweak the product and technology until deadlines are missed.
As products and services become more software based, a new element of software development and testing has entered the product development process, which introduces additional complexities of software and hardware development, prototyping and testing into the process.
Centric consultants are experienced in helping companies develop a set of reasonable product strategies and gate management reviews to build process that delivers through the requirements gathering, conceptual design, system engineering, prototyping and testing phases of a project.
Engineering Package Selection and Implementation
Product and service development processes use unique tools and techniques for development. Unlike other software products, engineering tools can be notoriously expensive and inefficient to share. The foundation tools selected will have a fundamental impact on the company’s ability to reuse components of designs, which facilitates the customization and extension of products and services to new customers.
Finally, the software vendors in the product development space have traditionally competed by optimizing software for “full line users” and sub-optimizing “best of breed” users.
Centric has the technical and engineering knowledge to help clients avoid the minefields in package selection and can leverage our base of selection and implementation projects to help avoid making costly selection mistakes.