3 Secrets to Successfully Managing Product Development Programs
Projects are always hard to successfully manage. Even in the simplest possible case, when all of the objectives are known in advance and resources are available, there is still need for constant adjustment in response to external variables. PMBOK and basic tools do a great job of helping the PM manage these projects, but what happens when things aren’t so simple?
Projects become exponentially more challenging though whenever they must simultaneously define and execute work. Fixed and creative task subsets possess completely opposite execution needs and must be managed in different ways. Concepts such as rolling wave planning, requirements maturity, iterative development, validation and verification, and many others move from useful to essential. Such projects are never fully developmental, at least some portion can always be executed as a simple fixed task project. The first secret is therefore to divide project tasks based on developmental or pure execution characteristics and match appropriate methods to each.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect to master is the ability to communicate to the supporting organization why development projects should “look and feel” different than projects found in manufacturing or construction. Base and change order funding levels, responsible use of available schedule, access to resources, risk management, and even progress measurement all require tailoring to work properly in development settings. No developmental project can ever hope to succeed in an environment that expects a perfect plan on day one and equates change with cost of poor quality. The second secret to success is the ability to gain understanding and support for the “development difference.”
Developmental projects always have a technical dimension, and in the most severe cases require invention of new development methods as well as new solutions. The technical dimension interacts strongly with basic PM responsibility. Important research conducted by an alliance of PMI, INCOSE and MIT reveals how valuable a Systems Engineering presence can be. This is the third secret to success – building on an emerging body of developmental project knowledge that proves the value of Systems Engineering and PM coordination.
About the Presenter
Mr. Iliff has over 30 years experience with developmental projects ranging from a few thousand to over a billion dollars, and has participated in all phases of project execution from proposal to close out. He is both a seasoned large-project PM and distinguished Systems Engineer, and has managed a wide variety of developmental efforts in aerospace and purely commercial settings. That experience, as well as individual research, provides unique insight on how to effectively run commercial sector developmental projects. Mr. Iliff is currently Vice President at bb7, and Director of Strategy, Methods and Learning.
He holds a BS in Engineering / Industrial Design from Michigan State University, an MS in Systems Management, Research and Development from the University of Southern California, and received Honorary Fellow appointment at the University of Wisconsin when he served as the Systems Engineering Manager for the ICECUBE project. Mr. Iliff is a charter member of the International Council On Systems Engineering (INCOSE), founder / prior Chairman of the INCOSE Commercial Practices Working Group, and current INCOSE representative to the INCOSE / PMI / MIT alliance.
A frequent speaker, Mr. Iliff has developed and conducted thousands of hours of training covering all aspects of product development, particularly systems engineering and project management excellence. He is the developer, subject matter expert and master instructor for several PMI accredited courses conducted by Motorola. He has spoken before groups as large as 1,200 people and has delivered the keynote address at numerous conferences and professional events.
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Acknowledgements: Marjorie Anderson