If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few months, you know I’ve ben pulling a number of findings from the PLM Study that we conducted in January. The most interesting of those findings have had nothing to do with technology, but have provided insight into the organizational performance of engineering.

In this post, we’re going to dive into that topic again, looking at the correlation between shifting resources and delays in the launch of new products.

The Correlation is Clear

First off, let’s look at the finding.

Now, let me apologize. I know the takeaway from this finding might not be explicitly clear. Let me provide my interpretation.

Let’s start by looking at the first row in the table, which represents organizations that shift resources for less than 1 out of 10 product development projects. Those organizations hit their launch dates a majority of the time, as represented by the 56% combined number in the left most cells in the table. Essentially, they don’t shift resources frequently but do hit their launchd dates.

In contrast, let’s look at the last row, which represents organizations that shift resources in 8 out of 10 projects or more. Those organizations are less likely to hit their launch dates overall.

For the table overall, you can see a dark band of color going from the top left to the bottom right. This represents the trend that the more resources are shifted to keep projects on schedule, the less likely they are to stay on schedule.

The Cause and Effect Is Not

While correlating a relationship between these two things is not hard, identifying causality is not.

You could assume that shifting resources is the reason projects miss their launch dates. Getting engineers to drop their current projects to save the late one might be successful. But it sets up the next projects to also fall behind schedule. This can turn into a self-propagating scenario, where projects are perpetually late and require a shift in resources to have a chance to launch on time.

Regardless which is the cause and which is the effect, the takeaway is the same: constantly shifting resources and missing launch dates go hand in hand. If you’re doing a lot of one, you’re likely to be doing the other fairly soon.

How do you fix it?

Most likely, organizations that are experiencing these two issues have challenges in both planning and execution. Some organizations get too aggressive with their timelines and / or don’t provide enough resources to meet success. Some organizations don’t have the right process, procedures and policies in place successfully execute product development, even with the right resources in place.

The last couple of posts here in the blog, focusing on how system level prototyping failures are a detriment to design release as well as our upcoming post on agile product development methodologies are good examples of where organizations can improve. However, you may well need help in the form of consultants specializing in product development. Getting the perspective and guidance from outside parties can have an impact.

Recap and Conclusion

  • There is a direct correlation between shifting resources and missing launch dates. The more frequently resources are shifted, the most likely the organization will miss launch dates, either on current or future projects.
  • The cause and effect between these two is not clear. There is likely a cyclical effect where each causes the other.
  • The root problems likely lie in planning and execution. Organizations can become overly aggressive in their planning. They can also lack the processes, policies and procedures to successfully execute product development.
  • Outside help from consultants can assist in both of these areas.

Alright folks. That’s my take. Let me know yours.

Take care. Talk soon. Thanks for reading.