By Geoff Vincent (auth.)
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Extra info for —Managing— New-Product Development
Decisions are taken in a controlled way - first on feasibility, then on design approach, and finally on implementation - as the relevant information becomes known. There is a second chance at phase boundaries to change decisions that have not worked out. The laboratory model phase is a way of having a first stab at a solution without all the constraints of the final product (cost, size etc). This establishes the basic knowledge from which the real decisions on technical approach and implementation can be made with confidence.
What is essential is a single individual who has the power (and is seen to have the power) to make clear decisions about the day to day running of the project. Checks and balances, advisors and reviewers, can be added, and the balance of power can be tuned if it is not working. If necessary, a project leader can be replaced - perhaps by switching roles with someone else. But the central role must remain, and must be clear to all. Experience shows that, quite simply, other structures do not work.
We will assume that some sort of requirements specification exists as the result of a previous feasibility study, and that a laboratory model has proved the viability of the control techniques proposed. What remains is the development phase. The first step in the plan is to look at the product as a whole and determine how the different elements will be put together. For the moment, this system design activity can be represented as a single box on the plan, although it may be useful to come back and expand it out later.