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Markting of Project Management.Pdf


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Time-toMarket
Project
Management
by Edward J. Fern, PMP

The need for urgency
crosses all industries
and all players within
an industry: project
management must
expand its role in
commercial product
development if cycle
times are to continue
to shrink.

to market quickly is the single
most important factor for enterprise success in many industries, yet project managers have traditionally brought their
disciplines to only a fraction of the total effort of creating new

B

RINGING NEW PRODUCTS

products. In today’s market, the race is so urgent that project management disciplines must be brought to bear across all the activities. Doing the whole job, and
doing it quickly, is now the name of the game.
Among the forces driving the concentration on time to market is the tendency
toward shorter product life cycles that reduce the period during which a company
can reasonably expect to recover its development investments. A track record of
rapid product development can bring a firm many benefits: market share, margin,
an enthusiastic workforce, access to capital, cooperative suppliers, cooperative marketing channels, and acquiescent competitors. All of these benefits add up to profits. The winner in the time-to-market race usually wins the profit race as well.
The art and science of project management has traditionally been confined to
a few of the processes of product development. In this traditional model, the “goo”
in the tube of toothpaste is the product that project managers have been concerned
with. The project manager’s processes have been the processes of developing better goo. More recently, project managers have been asked to extend their purview
to include aspects of the manufacturing process. By designing products in collaboration with industrial designers responsible for the manufacturing design, project
managers have been able to improve quality and reduce time to market.
Introducing a new product to the marketplace requires the careful coordination of
10 elements that are critical to success. By stretching syntax, the 10 can all be summarized in words that start with the letter P for easy memorization: positioning, planning,
partnering, producing, processing, packaging, pricing, promoting, placing, and pleasing. These elements have customarily been the sole responsibility of the marketing
Edward J. Fern (edfern@home.com.) is principal consultant of The Fern Group, a technology management consulting firm specializing in the application of project management and information
technologies to the development of new products and services.

January 1999 PM Network • 47

product manager. In the time-to-market race,
they must also enjoy the attention, and the disciplined approach, of the product development project manager.
Traditionally, the project manager has
played a role in the producing element, often being confined to the product development segment of that element. The recent
popularity of Design for Manufacturing
(DFM) techniques has extended the project
manager’s scope into the production segment by integrating design and production.
Delivering a quality product on time and
within budget isn’t enough. Delivering a design that can be efficiently manufactured isn’t enough. Because the finished product
must generate revenues in excess of its development and manufacturing costs, the
project manager must be concerned with
all of the elements that contribute to marketing success.
Winning time-to-market races requires
full integration and coordination of all 10 elements. The role of the project manager in
ensuring integration and coordination can
shave crucial days, weeks, and months
from the total elapsed time required to
bring a new offering to the market.
Positioning. A new product will not exist
in isolation. Instead, it is likely to exist as a
part of a firm’s total product line and will
certainly exist, and be evaluated by potential customers, in relationship to competing
products that satisfy similar requirements.
Identification of the context in which we
want our new offering to be evaluated is
critical to defining the characteristics that
will allow the market to identify what it is
that we will be selling. We must also identify the characteristics that will set it apart
from alternatives within the context. A thorough analysis will include not only the similarities and differences but also will identify differences within the similarities and
similarities within the differences.
This first step in product definition is critical to all of the steps that follow, but particularly to the promotion of the offering,
where we must communicate the position
of our offering to the market. The promotion effort will communicate information
and that information will focus on the context and the differentiation chosen in this
first step. Even if the product is unlike anything available, it must supplant some existing way or ways of spending time, energy, or

48 • PM Network January 1999

effort. At its inception, the VCR was unlike
anything in the market. It supplanted the requirement to watch television shows at the
time they were broadcast. With the advent
of rented movies, it supplanted the requirement to watch movies at broadcast time or
in theaters. With the launch of the video
camera, it supplanted the chemistry-based
home movie camera, projector, and screen.
In this phase, the particular product being developed is distinguished from, and integrated with, the product line of similar
products offered, or anticipated, by the
firm. If the product is opening a new product line, preliminary determinations are
made here to include or omit functions and
features in the initial offering. What is clearly essential is included; what is clearly optional is omitted. Functions and features
that cannot be identified as clearly essential
or clearly optional are left as decisions to
be made during the planning and processing elements. If the product will extend an
existing product line, features and functions
are included or omitted to distinguish the
new product and to appeal to a new segment within the broader market.
In the toothpaste example, products currently offered include toothpastes for fighting cavities, for combating gingivitis, for
eliminating halitosis, for producing whiter
teeth, and for having a pleasant taste. Some
brands tout that they are composed entirely of “natural” ingredients, others tout their
special formulas. In each case, the toothpaste is at least advertised to appeal
to a particular market segment. Project
managers must not only understand this
process, they must also control it to ensure
that decisions made here can be quickly
implemented in all the other processes.
Planning. Experienced project managers
are familiar with the processes involved in
project planning. Applying these processes
to the full spectrum of product launch activities may, however, be a fresh experience
for many project managers. Using the 10 Ps
as the Level 1 work breakdown structure,
the project manager can establish a comprehensive project plan that incorporates
all of the elements required to bring the
new product to market. Clearly the successful accomplishment of all of these tasks
requires efforts that cross multiple organizational boundaries. An integrated project
team is an effective means of establishing

and maintaining the coordination that is essential to timely achievement of the goal.
Understanding and managing the dependencies and interdependencies across
every element of the effort can minimize rework and delay. This understanding forms
the basis for establishing a schedule and assigning task responsibilities.
Partnering. Identifying opportunities to
leverage the skills, technologies, and positions
of strategic partners and potential strategic
partners should begin at this early stage of
product development. Reinventing wheels is
not the way to win time-to-market races. Once
the product concept has crystallized, supplier and channel partners should be involved
in every step of the product development
process. Your suppliers have much to gain
from your success and should be viewed as
sources of efficiency that can shave valuable
time off your development cycle. Your channels are valuable sources of information that
will allow you to identify, and subsequently
develop, the minimum functional feature set
that will allow you to bring your new product
to market ahead of your competitors. Project
managers can use their contract management experience to ensure that suppliers and
partners are in step with the total product development effort.
Producing. This is the traditional realm of
the project manager. This element includes
the product design and manufacturing design
processes. In the toothpaste example, this element includes selection of ingredients that
will not only produce a customer-satisfying effect within the targeted market segment, but
will also allow the goo to be effectively and efficiently packaged, warehoused, and shipped.
With more complex products, where project
management techniques have more frequently been employed, the challenges of
producing may be of sufficient scale to overshadow the other requirements.
Processing. Processing includes procurement of parts and components, manufacturing and packaging, maintenance of inventories, order processing and shipping, and
billing and collection. To the extent that a
new product requires modifications of existing processes, or the creation of entire new
processes, these modifications and creations
must be parts of the project planning and implementation. Without their readiness, the
new product cannot be delivered to the marketplace. Here too, project managers have a

wealth of experience in planning, organizing, and monitoring processes that will ensure timely results.
Packaging. Packaging should not be confused with wrapping. While the wrapping is
what allows us to distinguish one brand of
soap chips from another in the supermarket,
packaging can bring much more to product
differentiation. In the toothpaste example,
the package may offer the consumer the ability to extract the goo from its container in a
novel way, and induce many consumers to at
least try it out just to try out the new package.
Packaging also refers to bundling. Intel’s
family of processors constitutes a product
line. Primarily, though, consumers see the Intel processor as a part, albeit an important
one, of a much more elaborate package, a
personal computer. The PC is likely to include an array of hardware, an operating system, application software, and free trial memberships in various networks offering access
to the Internet. The Intel processor is, in fact,
of little use without at least a major portion of
the other pieces with which it is customarily
bundled. Here the project manager will recognize that his project is only part of a larger
program, or of many larger programs, and
that the project must be coordinated with the
larger programs to deliver optimum value.
Pricing. For each targeted market segment,
there is a “right” price. Too much above that
price will be too expensive. Too much below
that price will be too cheap. Unless the price
is right, the result will be no sales. A critical
deliverable in market research is determination of the right price for each of the market
segments into which the new product will be
sold. Because price can have a dramatic impact on so many other choices that must be
made, pricing must be a high priority at project inception. Pricing activities have their
own work breakdown structure involving
market research, competitive analysis, and
cost accounting. Project managers will recognize that these activities must be scheduled in conjunction with other development
activities and that information learned in other parts of the product development project
must be communicated here.
Promoting. The scope and scale of promotion for a new product will depend on
the awareness of need in the market segment for which it is intended and on the maturity of the benefit the new product will offer to that segment.

If the new product represents an incremental improved solution to a need the
market already recognizes, promotion can
focus on the improvements because a baseline solution is already established in the
minds of buyers. If, instead, the new product represents an entirely new solution, promotion must both overcome the bias toward the familiar and educate the market

about the new solution paradigm and its
presumably superior characteristics. Promotional activities are often carried out
well before product availability—witness
Microsoft’s aggressive promotion of new
releases months, and even years, before
planned release dates. Project management
discipline can ensure that there is congruence between promotions and products,

Reader Service Number 5147
January 1999 PM Network • 49

that the product delivered is what the publicity promised.
Placing. The identification of appropriate
and effective distribution channels has frequently been key to product success or failure. As pointed out earlier, being first to market with a winning new product is likely to
offer the broadest field of choice of distribution channels. It is also likely to attract the
highest level of attention and marketing effort from selected channels. Whether your
new product will employ existing marketing
channels or require development of new
ones, the total time to market must include
the time required to bring these channels to
readiness to distribute the new product.
Bringing the marketing channels to readiness must include the creation of awareness
of the new product, sales training, and incentives to stock inventory. Determining the
right level for inventories is all the more difficult because the product is new and sales
cannot be accurately forecast. Once again,
project management experience and disci-

pline can ensure concurrence and coordination of all these activities and take precious time off the product launch schedule.
Pleasing. Customer service has justifiably
received a great deal of attention in recent
literature about product success. Studies indicate that one unhappy customer is likely
to report his or her unhappiness to between
10 and 20 other potential customers. This is
about triple the number to which a happy
customer will act as a reference for a product. The penalties for allowing an unhappy
customer to stay unhappy are severe.
The requirements for building and operating a successful and effective customer
service operation are beyond the scope of
this article. What is within the current scope
is to point out that an adequate customer
service operation is part and parcel of the
product and must, therefore, be a part of
the product development project. Whenever the first customer has the first opportunity to become less than satisfied with the
new product, customer service must be

Reader Service Number 5079
50 • PM Network January 1999

ready and waiting to restore the customer’s
confidence in the product and in the firm
that provided that product. The final test of
the project manager’s planning, scheduling,
and monitoring is the reaction of the first
customer who calls customer service.
AS WITH ANY PROJECT, concurrent work on
each element of a time-to-market product
development project adds complexity and
risk and may not reduce total project
elapsed time. Project managers practice the
art of balancing the triangle of scope, budget, and schedule. In the time-to-market race,
the schedule leg of the triangle must receive
the highest priority. In many companies, the
budget leg must be optimized. Scope, the
features and functions delivered by the new
product, will be the result of the other two.
The job of the project manager is to ensure
that communication and coordination minimize costs and the negative scope impacts
of concurrent efforts while delivering in the
shortest possible total elapsed time. `

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner.
Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to
reproduce this material, please contact PMI.


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