Unified project start: securing effective product development

Many product development teams are constantly challenged with finding more efficient ways to start up new developments and innovation projects. They see that in an ever-increasing competitive world, it’s crucial to be as effective as possible, avoiding losing unnecessary time and quality.

In order to get up front and stay ahead of the pack, traditional ways are calling for an overhaul. Boosting development processes is one of Philips focal points at present. Avoiding undesired surprises and risks another.

It all starts with accurately defining requirements and gauging their consequences as precisely as possible. This can only be achieved in settings where all competences acting in the process are involved in laying down the ‘perfect’ specifications.

A case study

Recently, project leadership of Medical Consumables and Sensors (MCS) of Orlando took the initiative to adopt this approach and established a Unified project start with multi-disciplinary teams, called Maverick.

MCS is part of Philips Patient Care & Monitoring Solutions. Obtaining total team focus on preparations is vital. This includes verifying key challenges as well as validating maturity of all inputs. It entails gauging risks and creating a shared vision on the scope of the project.

As a result, a feasible project planning including verification, validation and risk mitigation can be agreed upon.

Seven success factors

A Unified project start centers around seven key success factors for definition and execution:

  1. Plan
  2. Mindset
  3. Requirements
  4. Critical Q&R product and process standards
  5. Process & tools
  6. Competences
  7. Team
“90% of a project success is decided at the beginning: right team, right mindset, right scope, right insights” (sr. program manager, Philips)

By means of systematic assessment of these seven elements, an effective gap analyses can be performed in order to identify the actual shortcomings for successful project evolution. A core project team consisting of project lead, marketing and system architect typically spend two to four weeks on establishing gaps in preparation for the Unified start event.

Unified project start protocol

Unified start steps

At the Unified start event, selected stakeholders and key suppliers are following a protocol that aims at sharing the understanding and scope of the objectives. This includes scrutiny of all relevant parameters such as business drivers, value proposition as well as up to date factual data, all forming the fundaments of the business case.

Logically for MCS’ medical solutions, regulatory and safety assurance aspects play important roles and need to be scheduled properly, including premarket notification and submission to the FDA. Helpful in this case was the contribution of external specialists, who provided important input on usability, reliability and design aspects.

Once the team has come to a point of clear understanding and ownership, the ‘project management plan’ is firmed up, but not before exact scheduling and role definition has been clarified and secured. Project Maverick kicked-off successfully and is looking back at an encouraging initial development phase.

Managing your multi-disciplinary teams

The ‘Unified project start’ process is a well-structured and powerful tool that helps produce consistent deliverables in a feasible, validated schedule, mitigating risk and energizes the project team.

At Industry consulting, one of the key areas of expertise of Philips Engineering Solutions, you will find the essential expertise that provides hands-on facilitation of cross-functional and multi-disciplinary innovation teams. We welcome any feedback or query on this subject.

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