Addressing these product development challenges involves a three-pronged approach focused on people, process and technology.
The people who work on product development should be assigned to that function, either through reporting relationships or on a project basis. For example, a subset of employees in a company's IT department might be assigned to work full-time on product development. Other support departments responsible for several functions -- such as operations, compliance and accounting -- could assign people to work full-time on product development but only for a specific time period. This temporary full-time arrangement is vastly preferable to asking people to spend a few hours a day on each of several functions, including product development.
The product development process should be a template so that it is repeatable and can be used simultaneously on more than one project.
Technology can enable the people and process to develop products more efficiently. Companies that continue to use legacy systems for product development can seek newer technology that offers more user-friendly, rules-based systems. But user-friendly doesn't mean you can ignore a disciplined approach to product development -- standards and templates should be adhered to so that the process can be repeated and the components reused. This discipline should be applied to the design, configuration and testing process. Used properly, technology can be a tremendous help in improving speed to market.
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.
Michael Dippolito, Nationwide
Early discussions about product development with IT can help shape the possible solution and steer clear from complex, expensive efforts down the road.
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.