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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NPI are you happy with the introduction off new products in your company




This topic is an interesting one from a personal point if view, I have worked with start up companies for a while now, and I am amazed at the idea generation that happens when you get a group of "geeks"/ techie founders together in a new company, the sad thing is that only a fraction hit the market and make a good ROI. There are many reasons for that, some of which are included in this article, if this process is not running effectively in your business then you will have major problems cropping up. There is this critical balance point in an early stage company of lack of resource and stretching the technology road map, it all depends on the focus of the founders and investors how it develops, is it a quick in and out make a buck, or to build a long term company, my thoughts are take the pain up front and have a robust NPI strategy( like my patented NGPM strategy) and have your cake and eat it later.


www.mckinseyquarterly.com


The path to successful new products
Businesses with the best product-development track records stand apart from their less-successful peers in three crucial ways.

JANUARY 2010 • Mike Gordon, Chris Musso, Eric Rebentisch, and Nisheeth Gupta


Is your company finding it hard to develop new products? If so, you might try learning from the masters.

We found—after surveying more than 300 employees at 28 companies across North America and Europe—that the businesses with the best product-development track records do three things better than their less-successful peers: They create a clear sense of project goals early on, they nurture a strong project culture in their workplace, and they maintain close contact with customers throughout a project's duration.

The teams in our study that embraced these tactics were 17 times as likely as the laggards to have projects come in on time, five times as likely to be on budget, and twice as likely to meet their company's return-on-investment targets.

While we focused on companies in the automotive, high-tech, and medical-device industries, we believe that product makers of all stripes could benefit from our work.

Here is a closer look at what we found:
Keep it focused

Whenever project requirements were clearly defined and communicated to teams before kickoff, the project had a greater chance of success.

In our survey, 70 percent of the people working on high-performing projects—those that ranked in the top quarter of a performance index linking best practices to outcomes—said they had a clear view of the project's scope from the beginning, compared with just one-third of poor performers. We found that not thinking through a project's scope early on—say an appliance maker asks developers to design a new cooking range in the four-burner category but then later expands the project to include ranges with six burners—can create delays.

The teams with a clear understanding of project requirements appeared better able to make trade-offs between product performance and things like cost, time to market, and project risk. Only 19 percent of poor performers said they had the necessary information to make those decisions.

Top performers also focused more intensely than low performers on staffing projects with the right people: 47 percent of the former researched employees' skill sets before the project kicked off to ensure the project team was well rounded. None of the low performers did.
Nurture a project culture

The top-performing companies in our survey also nurtured a strong project culture by making product development a priority. They made more of an effort than the laggards—39 percent versus 12 percent—to minimize staffing disruptions due to external demands and to staff projects adequately. When people with critical skills become overburdened, they often decide on their own which of their many projects is the most important, a decision best made at the management level.

Two-thirds of top performers compared with 39 percent of poor performers said team members focused more on the success of the project than on satisfying the needs of their job function when those interests competed. They also were more likely than the laggards—44 percent versus 17 percent—to give team leaders responsibility for reviewing team members' job performances.

Three years ago, a North American medical-device maker in our study began an effort to stem market-share losses. Recognizing that one of the company's underlying problems was that project culture was weak, the device maker gave senior team leaders ownership of projects from beginning to end, as well as authority over staffing, personnel reviews and, in some cases, profit-and-loss responsibility. The new structure encouraged leaders to make better decisions, resolve conflicts quickly and reduce delays.
Talk to the customer

The successful innovators in our study kept in close contact with customers throughout the development process. More than 80 percent of the top performers said they periodically tested and validated customer preferences during the development process, compared with just 43 percent of bottom performers. They were also twice as likely as the laggards to research what, exactly, customers wanted. That made them better able to identify and fix design concerns early on, minimizing project delays.

The medical-device maker we mentioned created a matrix to identify and weigh the importance of various product features to different customer segments. It then tested trade-offs between product performance and things like price by bringing in surgeons and other medical specialists to use the product in simulated clinical settings. That allowed the team to fine-tune the product well before launch.

The result? Three years after starting its effort to shore up market share, employee satisfaction with product development increased, time to market improved for all projects—up to 40 percent in some cases— and overall gross margin rose six percentage points.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Customer service or not....bad service will hurt your bottom line




Customer service or not


Ok this is a rant, but hopefully it will be a constructive rant, how is your customer service performance, take a minute and rate yourself ? go for broke, pick a customer at random and ask them how your customer service was, ok take the step of the cliff, and ask a customer who had a problem with your company, what they thought. I think that would probably make you smile or maybe wince, I have had occasion during the last two days that ended up with me making a formal complaint, one was my housebuilder Meridian homes ( www.meridianresidential.co.uk) , the other my Bank "The halifax"(
www.halifax.co.uk ). The scores on the door is Meridian 1, Halifax 0, this is the second time the Halifax have messed up big time, and this time will be the last. Meridian after a slow start came back strong and are sorting things out, The Halifax well, they do not bother about who they mess up unless it is there good friend Gordon Brown, who likes to spend our money and give it to the banks to spend on bonuses for the fat cats ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7666570.stm) and http://preview.tinyurl.com/yaxyd5x . I do think the Government had to help out, but with the lack of morals the banks have shown, you would think the Government would have sorted them out, but I am sure there will be a few board positions opening up for them soon.

But that is enough of the rant, please have read at this article I found on BNET , it is an interesting slant on how a third party can effect your own customer service rating.



Even champions of customer service can get it wrong, especially if they leave their reputations in the hands of third parties, as John Lewis Partnership (JLP) supermarket chain Waitrose appears to have done.

I was forwarded a blog by Mark Samuels in which he complains of being charged £25 for having his car parked outside a London branch of Waitrose for more than two hours. (Personally, I think anyone who spends longer than two hours in a supermarket should be awarded £25.)

Samuels was understandably infuriated by this disproportionate fine for overstaying his allotted time in the parking space and wrote a letter of complaint to the Waitrose customer service department. He received a quick response, but was told that the car park for that branch was run by a third party, Britannia Parking, and he’d have to take his grievance up with that company.

Digging around, I’ve discovered a number of consumer forums where Waitrose customers are complaining of being stung with large fines for parking longer than two hours in other Waitrose parking lots run by the same company (Waitrose has different arrangements with other private companies and local authorities, so not all stores are affected).

Some have raised questions over the legality of these fines and Britannia Parking’s adherence to car parking regulations.

Other complaints are around inadequate warnings for shoppers that they risk a fine if they occupy a parking space for too long.

Whether or not Britannia is within its rights to levy these fines, it is Waitrose’s customer service reputation that is suffering.

Such is the consternation over these parking fines, one customer has even complained about it on the official Waitrose website forum. This complaint was replied to with the same form-letter sent to Samuels, only with a different branch substituted.

Waitrose, like its sister brand John Lewis, ranks highly in customer service surveys and trades on its reputation. In this instance, though, it has come away looking like it doesn’t care how its customers feel.

At the centre of this gaffe is the strategy of using a third party to handle a part of its customer interaction — parking facilities. Waitrose clearly has no control over what customer service strategy Britannia Parking decides to adopt, but shoppers won’t make the distinction. They see themselves as Waitrose customers, being unaware of the existence of Britannia Parking until they are handed a fine.

Bad news can spread fast. There’s a danger more customers will launch forum discussion strings and tweet about bad experiences. If a form letter on its own site is an indication of Waitrose’s response, it seems it’s unprepared to deal with online customer dissatisfaction.

And what does its parking policy say? At the very least, it puts out the message that shoppers are welcome at the stores, but only for a limited time.

For a retailer that otherwise holds the views of its customers so dear, this is a curious strategy and it really should know better.

In the retailer’s defence, a spokeswoman for Waitrose said: “We pride ourselves on ensuring our customer’s shopping experience with us is an enjoyable one from the moment they arrive at the store, which includes providing convenient access to car parking spaces. We therefore employ companies, where required, to manage Waitrose-owned car parks to ensure that this is the case.

“We are always careful to ensure signage is clear to let customers know what the terms of parking are, however, our branch managers generally know their customers well and we trust them to exercise their discretion. In practice this means being flexible over parking limits if they know that a particular customer needs extra time to do their shop. We would welcome any customer who believes they have been given an unfair parking fine, to speak to a member of the branch management team.”