I see the [product development] challenge being met across all three facets of people, process and technology. IT must engage early with the business -- early discussions can help shape the possible solution and steer clear from complex, expensive efforts down the road; IT can guide the business early in the process.
- People: IT analysts must have strong business knowledge and be respected by their business peers to understand their business models, challenges and product options.
- IT Process: Using a release process is another viable solution. Multiple products/changes can be grouped together in single release points throughout the year and orchestrated as such with marketing campaigns, promotions, etc. This helps to alleviate hitting the field force multiple times with confusing messaging and allows marketing efforts to focus on fewer, more intensive campaigns. A release process also allows IT to get some economies of scale in development and testing by grouping system changes together.
- Technology: Rules-based systems, as well as automated testing, are hot. These are a must for speed so that product rules can be configured by business analysts and not programmers. Automated regression testing also is critical to quickly understand the impact of a change made so concepts such as iterative development can be supported. You don't have to throw away a legacy system, but a rules engine can be incorporated to work with it for future product development going forward.
Bob Reynolds, Minnesota Life Insurance Co.
Addressing product development challenges involves a three-pronged approach focused on people, process and technology.
Van Beach, Tillinghast/Towers Perrin
Achieving speed to market is one way companies are leveraging their improved product development processes for competitive advantage, but speed is only one dimension of that process.
Tim Attia, Camilion Solutions
Streamlining product development processes, building "product chassis" of common components, adopting agile enabling technologies, and modifying organizational structure to support product innovation all are ways to improve speed to market.