Agile product development processes are key to delivering more value to customers and staying competitive in a crowded, global market.
Learn exactly what agile product development is, and what factors and pressures consumer product companies are facing that are leading them to implement more agile processes.
What is Agile Product Development?
Agile product development refers to the process of creating a product using the Agile methodology – encouraging adaptive planning, continual development, early delivery, and continued improvement. An iterative approach to product development is performed in a collaborative team setting where each phase of the project is broken down into short developmental cycles.
What Factors Contribute to Agile Product Development?
Increasing Product Complexity
The demand for smart connected products, along with their complexity is increasing by the day. Simple household items, like a toothbrush or an electric razor, can contain mechanical components, electrical endpoints, circuit boards, and lines of software code. Trying to integrate work from so many engineering domains makes this process even more difficult.
In order to remain competitive in the consumer product sector, businesses must adopt agile processes. The result – efficient design and development, shorter time-to-market, and increased quality.
Customer schedules, seasonal constraints, and other product requirements
Manufacturers must consider customer schedules, seasonal requirements, the needs of regional markets, and other product requirements that all lead to more complicated development processes.
If a customer needs an increased number of products to kick off a holiday shopping season and the manufacturer is unable to meet these needs, the customer may choose to find a new supplier. Similarly, some products vary by seasonality or region and the lack of an agile approach to development could be detrimental.
Flexibility in production is key and adaptability is critical. It’s a win-win for companies that can quickly adjust delivery times, increase production to meet seasonal needs, and work more efficiently to meet cost and contract obligations.
Consumer product companies face significant time, cost, and product differentiation pressures in today’s competitive environment. Globalization has increased the pressure on manufacturers to get into the market quicker, keep costs down, and create innovative products that allow them to stand out from their competition. Failure to achieve one or all of these goals can be extremely costly.
Improved flexibility, empowerment, and accountability
Flexibility from design teams is a must. Lack of flexibility means a lack of progress because only certain members of the team possess the skills to advance certain areas of the design, thus slowing down the design process.
On the other hand, having team members that can handle any aspect of the design allows decision-makers to quickly move people to various projects to maximize resources and balance out the work. This flexibility allows companies to work leaner and enables more versatility while getting more productivity and output.
Accountability is also key for team members and their assigned tasks. This, however, cannot happen without empowering employees with the tools they need to do their jobs. Greater accountability and increased empowerment are some of the top factors that contribute to agile product practices and processes. When employees feel empowered, increased innovation occurs.
Involving stakeholders and customers in development
Customer feedback early on in the development process is important for success. Companies cannot set their product apart from the competition without understanding what the customer wants and needs and then altering product designs to meet said expectations.
Similarly, it’s also important to involve suppliers early on. This enables companies to better meet product specifications and timelines.
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