The last three decades have seen an explosion in project management software tools and certifications for project management methodologies. Terms like agile, resource management, critical path analysis, risk mitigation, etc. are now commonplace throughout the corporate world. However, has all of this attention to the project management discipline resulted in product development executing as planned? For too many companies, the answer is still a resounding “No.”
A recent study by Engineering.com (“Product Development and Project Management Tools,” December 17, 2015) indicates that there is a significant gap between how manufacturing companies value specific aspects of their project execution and how they judge their performance. Specifically, the study looked at 4 main aspects of managing product development projects:
- Executing the simultaneous launch of multiple variants of a product
- Understanding how requirement changes affect a project’s schedule and resources
- Obtaining accurate and consistent project task updates with proof of completion
- Identifying product development issues that are causing project delays
Across all industries, survey respondents judged their abilities in each of these project management activities to be significantly less than their importance for executing a project successfully. However, it was found that if a respondent combined their project management methodologies with a web-based Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution, they judged their performance to be significantly higher. In order to address these 4 challenging aspects of product development projects, it was concluded that a PLM solution with embedded project management can uniquely provide the following operational best practices:
- Full alignment between projects and the product portfolio in order to leverage common technology platforms and launch products to market faster.
- Coordination of a project’s schedule and resources with its scope as defined by requirements and development constraints in order to meet market expectations.
- Automatic updates of project tasks as development work are completed to have a real-time understanding of project status and progress.
- Mitigating project risks based upon the real-time status of product development – designs, change orders, defects, etc. – in order to stay on schedule and within budget.
Each of these project management best practices are explored in more detail in a white paper available through Dassault Systèmes. Adopting a PLM system with a deliverables-based project management approach may find some organizational resistance due to a bias towards standalone project management tools. There will be pressure to pursue solutions with a lengthy list of advanced project management capabilities. While there is a baseline that a solution must provide, there are diminishing returns from the most advanced capabilities. Do not place excessive priority on these seldom used capabilities at the expense of fully realizing the best practices discussed in this white paper. Instead, stay focused on the unique value provided by a PLM system with embedded project management.