You’ve started a new project. Your objective is to successfully create and internationally launch a new high-quality product for your company. But, you’re stuck, because you are not sure you know how to ensure success across countries or how to make an attractive presentation for the complex global market. No problem! This is another situation where you can apply project management strategies, beginning with Project Initiation, to clarify the benefits of the proposed product to both the customer and your sponsor. If you can produce value for both, your project will be perceived as successful.
As you know from prior posts (“Initiating Your Job Search Project” ), Project Initiation is the phase of a project where you set project boundaries and define the end product you want to launch. Remember, you are now thinking on a global scale. There are many unknowns. To accomplish your goal you can ask three questions that will help make your final product and global launch successful:
- What are you trying to accomplish? What are the goals? What are the benefits?
- How will your customers define a quality product?
- What will not be part of the product launch project?
Once you have the answers to these questions you can establish the basic requirements of your “end product” and the scope of your project. The next step is creating the product description.
Creating the Product Description
There are several important aspects of your product that must be planned and agreed upon in the project before the building phase can begin. Ask yourself: What will your product accomplish for customers? How will it improve their lives? What materials and resources will be required, and when? How will your product function in different countries? Will it be independent of technology, rely on electricity/batteries and work well anywhere? What are accepted features in all locations, and which are optional? What can be added to make it more acceptable to each culture?
In order to create a global product you need to spend substantial time on the following:
- Quality Standards: Customers are the best judge of quality, and opinions will change based on the demographic mix and culture to which the product is marketed.
- Market Research: By researching existing products and customer reactions you can discover how to innovate/differentiate your product to deliver benefits that no other product in your market has. Dig out the market’s ‘unknowns’ and prepare your response.
- Complexity vs. Success: You are creating a potentially global product. The less complex your product is the more easily it will transfer across demographic and cultural boundaries. Success rates will rise if you simplify design and function, which also can reduce cost during both production and maintenance. What produces real value to the customer? Keep those features, and reduce complexity by eliminating unneeded elements.
- Tailor the Product to Unique Market Segments: Are there market groupings that will value certain features as add-ons? An example is the McDonald’s hamburger, which offers a vegetable patty in India, soy flavors in Japan, and sliced beets in Australia.
- Financial ROI: How much will the product cost to make the first time? This is your project cost. Will it remain expensive to produce after it is handed over to operations and production? Does the customer keep it for years, or replace it freely? These questions will help you in the long run to create a high-quality perception of the product by the customer, and possibly a less expensive product to manufacture and market. The project can cost a lot for a prototype and still deliver financial benefits to management year after year.
- Legal: You must consider the legal issues for the type of economic and social environment into which you are launching your product. Adequacy of responses to legal barriers can impact the product’s initial launch. If there are too many unknowns, a feasibility study may be needed before launching a project.
If you are able to clearly document project success, within the scope of product requirements and the end market, you are ready to create your product. With a strong project base the chances of success will be greatly enhanced.
In part 2 , we will look at the cost implications for our product development project.
by Helen S. Cooke