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Resource Capacity and Management

Four Recommended Articles for Product Development Success


As we quickly transition into the second quarter of 2013, I wanted to share several informative articles from some terrific innovation publications including Innovation Management, Enterprise Apps Today, and Intelligent HQ. A couple of the articles feature insights and recommendations from the newly released Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study; another promotes continued awareness and best practices for meeting launch windows and getting products to market faster, and the last shares key ways to improve your decision making process.

  1. Product Portfolio Management: Getting Products to Market Faster
    Featured earlier this month in Enterprise Apps Today, this article provides insight based on last fall's Issue In Focus: Meeting Product Launch Windows research report. Jim Brown, president of Tech-Clarity, shares how product portfolio management software can help organizations more quickly launch new products.

    Read the article on Enterprise Apps Today.
  2. From Chaos to Control: New Research Reveals the Global State of Resource Management and Capacity Planning
    This article reviews the results from the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study, identifying best practices to avoid wasting resources on the wrong opportunities.

    Read the article on InnovationManagement.se and learn how to help your organization stop wasting resources.
  3. Interview with Planview: How does your company's maturity level impact innovation?
    IntelligentHQ interviewed Jerry Manas, bestselling business author, and Maureen Carlson, chief researcher, to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study.

    Access the interview on IntelligentHQ and gain insight into your company's maturity level.
  4. Equipped to Face Tough Portfolio Decisions in 2013
    As part of the eLearning program with InnovationManagement.se, this article revisits the three things your product organization can do to improve decision making this year.

    "If you manage a product portfolio, it's likely you have tough decisions to make in 2013. How will you make the tradeoffs, such as killing underperforming products and funding new ones? Do you have the data to make the right decisions?"

    Continue reading on InnovationManagement.se.

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Lessons Learned: Assessing the Skills of 450 Research and Development Professionals


The superheated economy of the late 1990s was punctuated by a scramble for resources and market-share. Stalwart companies like IBM were waking up to the reality that they could not skate on their size and reputations -- they too had to become masters of change.

IBM's mantra, "A new shade of blue" signaled their intended transformation to become a more agile organization. To fuel this transformation, IBM needed to assess the skills, core competencies, and training needs across more than a dozen research and development centers. My assignment was to plan and obtain approval for this worldwide initiative. Then, coordinating my activities with the other labs, I'd directly manage the skills survey and analysis of 450 professionals in Austin, Texas.

The assignment seemed straightforward. I designed a prototype survey, data capture and reports. Working with other designated managers, we agreed on a common set of skills categories and established consistent definitions for the 5 skill levels. We recognized that the data and subsequent value of the skills survey would quickly go stale, so we designed an online tool which would support profile updates, the addition of new skills and the retirement of skills no longer valued. We set up and tested the completed online survey tools. Everything was good to go… or so we thought.

Our initial rollout of the survey tool to First Line Managers turned up an immediate oversight: while those on the planning team embraced the survey as a means to better utilize the skills of our professionals and offer relevant training, the #1 fear among those taking the survey was that the information would be used to eliminate their jobs. With such a concern, lack of cooperation and gaming the system become more likely. A skills survey taken under these circumstances would be useless. What followed were a series of discussions with Managers to create a skills assessment system which would satisfy the needs of all parties. This included a documented agreement to utilize aggregated data for organizational planning and limit the access to individual skills profiles.

Lessons Learned

The following lessons apply to skills assessments, performance reviews and other areas where collected data has the potential to affect compensation and job security.

1. Set clear objectives

An accurate profile of skills is an asset in capacity planning, developing the capabilities of an organization and matching employees with appropriate assignments. Clear objectives will establish the level of detail and effort needed for the assessment. If objectives and communications are unclear, you will have a difficult time enlisting others' support, expend more effort and be leaving the value to chance.

Clarity is also important in setting objective guidelines for skill levels. Such guidelines may include years of experience, levels of responsibility, completed coursework and certifications equating to a given skill level.

2. Address concerns and motivate participation

Skills assessments are best initiated during times of growth when participation can be rewarded with choice assignments and professional development. Initiating a skills assessment at any other time will be more problematic. Addressing concerns openly creates the possibility for all parties to come to common grounds even in difficult times.

3. Never compromise trust

Trust is an asset that, once lost, is difficult to regain. Using skills profiles for anything other than a mutually beneficial purpose will undermine future assessments and job performance. Likewise, you will need to consider how to handle employees who deliberately game the system.

4. No substitute for direct communications

Skills assessments are just a planning tool. For resource management, nothing takes the place of good communications, mentoring, team-building and leadership.

Last year, LinkedIn introduced skills "tags" and endorsements as a search aid to match employers with job seekers. In retrospect, this approach of having employees voluntarily identify skills at a single level would provide much of the value for planning assignments without touching off job security concerns. Skills identification is quicker to do and easier to maintain than a multi-level skills assessment -- a good start for most Enterprise Resource Management initiatives.

How do you perform skills assessments in your organization? Share your best practices and lessons learned by leaving a comment below.

The Global State of Resource Management and Capacity Planning [Infographic]


In a recent blog post, Are Your Limited Resources Focused on the Right Opportunities?, Maureen Carlson, chief researcher of the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study, cites key findings and introduces the study's maturity matrix that you can use to evaluate the maturity of your organization.

2013 Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study InfographicOne revelation is that a great majority of organizations have shared resources across their enterprise, but less than half of them have a dedicated function or role for resource management and capacity planning. Not surprisingly, the ones who do are achieving the most success in terms of resource planning maturity.

Overall, greater visibility of demand and capacity, better demand prioritization, and the ability to adapt to change are cited as key enablers to success. The comprehensive study, which features input from more than 600 participants in more than 17 countries, goes into greater detail and makes recommendations for boosting maturity.

With 44% of respondents from product development, the study sheds a light on the most significant pain points and causes, business risks, software use, and best practices ‒‒ for not only PD but cross industry.

Read the complete blog on Portfolio Perspectives and get your complimentary copy of the report from our 2013 Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study page.

"Many organizations are continuing to operate in a state of chaos or limited visibility into what their resources are working on today and what they are available to do tomorrow. A third of organizations have achieved some level of visibility…" Read more about the Resource Management and Capacity Benchmark Study

Stay tuned to Product Pulse for details from product development respondents and follow #RMCP13 to join the conversation on Twitter.

I'd like to hear from you. How are you currently managing your resources and capacity to ensure your people are working on the right opportunities? Post a comment or ask me a question pertaining to the research by leaving a comment below.

Carlson, M. (2013). Resource Management Capacity Planning Benchmark Study. Planview.

Top Innovation and Product Development Resources of 2012


Revisiting Wisdom from Analysts, Thought Leaders, and Practitioners

Happy New Year! As we kick off 2013, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the most popular innovation and portfolio management resources of 2012. These whitepapers and Webcasts feature analysts, thought leaders, and practitioners sharing their wisdom and experience to help us make better, more informed decisions and optimize our limited resources.

Here are five most widely read (and viewed) resources:

  1. PDF: Issue in Focus: Meeting Fixed Product Launch Windows, Managing Portfolios When Time to Market is Non-Negotiable
    In this research report, Jim Brown, president of Tech-Clarity, addresses the critical nature of hitting launch windows and provides insight from successful companies as well as tips for improving the odds of success.
  2. Video / webcast: On-Demand Webcast: Building and Managing an Innovation Portfolio
    Hosted by best-selling business author Jerry Manas, featuring Chip Gliedman, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research, Inc. and Carrie Nauyalis, NPD solution market manager, Planview, this webcast provides insights to help you build and manage your innovation portfolio.
  3. PDF: Ten Proven Military Strategies For Better Resource Planning: Avoiding Custer's Last Stand
    This latest whitepaper from Jerry Manas explores 10 timeless military strategies ‒‒ tried and tested over thousands of years ‒‒ that can be effectively applied toward modern day resource planning.
  4. Video / webcast: On-Demand Webcast: How Technology-Enabled Visibility Lets You Prioritize Products and Optimize Resources
    Find out how product portfolio management (PPM) technology enables organizations to optimize their limited people and financial resources to achieve their product delivery objectives. Featuring Planview, Isabel SA, and Frost & Sullivan.
  5. PDF: The 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study
    With input from more than 1000 product development executives and managers over the last three surveys, this report provides insightful statistics and informative data on the state of product portfolio management along with thought-provoking recommendations for all product development organizations.

Continue the Conversation Online

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Are there other materials that provided you important guidance in 2012? Please use the comment section below to share your favorite white papers, Webcasts, blogs, etc.

A Shift in the Right Direction: Companies are Waking Up to Ways to Streamline Product Development


A Look at the Findings from the 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study

This year, 320 product development executives and managers across the globe shared their priorities, risks, and pain points around product portfolio management (PPM). Because this is the third study on PPM, we were able to identify some encouraging trends, show patterns in corporate behavior, and see small movements towards maturity within the discipline.

The full report, available at www.planview.com/PPMbenchmark, is a terrific read and a good piece of research to drop off on your boss' desk. And if you really want to sound smart around the water cooler, here are some key points:

  • The top pain points really are solvable, especially the #1 pain point of Too Many Projects for our Resources
  • Two things will continue to impede your product development process if not addressed: the inability to accurately forecast resources and failure to kill products that are underperforming
  • There was a serious shift in the number of survey respondents who indicated that their companies are considering automating their PPM process via a software tool

Now, if any of these statements make your face contort with culpability, don't fret -- let the benchmark study populate your "to do" list for the rest of 2012! The honest, anonymous responses submitted via the study are meant to help those of us in the product development/engineering/R&D industry recognize that there are some weighty challenges that need to be addressed. Know that you're not alone in needing to make progress. But don't delay in getting started, because chances are your competition is also looking to make process and tool improvements to get the jump on you by getting to market faster, reducing cost, increasing revenue, and mitigating risk.

So, how do you get started? Well, just as Fräulein Maria recommends: "Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start." Your first step is to download and read the study to get some perspective on the breadth and depth of PPM, from ideation to launch. Next, take it a step further and perform an informal self-assessment using the study to determine how your organization compares to others in the industry, asking yourself questions like:

  • How efficient and successful are we at incorporating the voice of the customer?
  • How effective are we at forecasting resource capacity in the midst of changing business drivers?
  • How often do we have the courage to kill "in-flight" projects and products?

If you need help with this second step, there are lots of industry experts who can help guide the way, like our friends at Kalypso and PWC. They'll give you an unbiased viewpoint on the areas within PPM where you need improvement, along with a great plan of action to help you implement the processes and tools necessary to help you smoke the competition.

I'm not going to tell you that embarking on a PPM journey is as easy as Do-Re-Mi, but I will promise you that it will be worth the effort. So get started now and report back to us on how you're doing via the Pulse and again on next year's benchmark survey!

Product Companies Share Their Priorities, Risks, and Pains of Innovation in a New Study


Written by Maureen Carlson, Partner at Appleseed
Partners

Maureen Carlson

Is it appropriate for product-based organizations to make improvised decisions when they don't have visibility or access to proper data or metrics? Do product leaders have the resources for priority projects to drive innovation and growth? Is it possible that underperforming projects continue to consume precious resources? According to the industry’s third Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study, the majority of product leaders struggle with these concepts and are eager to gain control of the innovation process in an economy that requires faster, smarter innovation with limited to no addition in resources.

3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study Infographic

A compilation of 320 product development executives and managers from around the world shared their priorities, risks, and pain points around product portfolio management (PPM) creating a sample size that allowed us to draw specific conclusions about the product development population. The following topics represent a snapshot of the study's key findings. Download the full study methodology, demographics, additional results, findings, and recommendations.

Key Challenges

For the third time and by a wider margin this year, the top three pain points are:

  1. Too many projects for resources (68%)
  2. Not being able to drive innovation fast enough (53%)
  3. Decisions that go back and forth and get made late or ineffectively (56%)

These challenges affect one another and expose the fact that many organizations still do not have access or visibility to the data and consistent metrics needed to prioritize projects, drive innovation without adding resources, and ultimately drive winning products to market. Many organizations continue to report on the challenge to kill underperformers and properly allocate resources the highest value projects -- these are just a few dilemmas facing product-focused companies today.

The Risks

Product executives from around the globe identified the following as the greatest risks when managing a product portfolio:

  1. Managing changing priorities as business conditions change (61%)
  2. Not cutting lower value projects that take away resources from more strategic projects (53%)
  3. Missing the voice of the customer and developing the wrong products (52%)

The results signify that there are serious challenges with data-driven decision-making because of the lack of data or the inability to access or synthesis it. Product leaders should consider how they currently approach portfolio scenario analysis and ideation management techniques. It's crucial for these companies to maximize limited resources against the highest return (both strategic and profitable) projects and to ensure that in this day and age of multiple avenues to capture the customer voice that opportunities are not missed -- thus the competition gains first mover advantage.

Forecasting

Participants were asked to rate their accuracy of forecasting in terms of Costs, Schedule, and Expected Revenue.

  • Fifty-four percent rated their organization as accurately projecting costs
  • More than one-third of participants rated themselves mostly inaccurate at projecting schedule
  • Only twenty-eight percent rated their organization as being accurate at forecasting expected revenue

There are significant ramifications to business decision making over the usage of finite resources based on inaccurate forecasting information. While more than half were positive on the ability to project costs, only one-third are confident in revenue forecasts. The full report considers several questions as to why revenue projections are off: overzealous projections to get products approved; inaccurate average selling prices; or schedule impacts that negatively affect revenue performance? By having better ability to analyze scenarios, risk may be reduced.

Resources

Nearly half of the respondents reported that they are somewhat poor to very poor in their ability to manage and forecast resource capacity accurately. With nearly 70% of participants stating that too many projects for their resources as their number one pain point, this is undoubtedly a key concern for organizations. The underlying challenge to effective resource capacity planning is projects that compete for the same resources and sales-driven "just do it" projects that are not on the product roadmap. The bottom-line here is that visibility and scenario analysis are paramount, or this trend will continue.

Systems

As we look at the trends in benchmarking the results since 2009, there is an increasing acknowledgment in the risk of relying on tools such as spreadsheets and project tools, which are unfit for the complex job of multi-product companies and their product portfolio management. The study shows that the use of Automated Product Portfolio Management Systems has doubled since 2010 and evaluation of PPM solutions expanded six-fold in the same period! It would be wise to consider how your competition is viewing the challenge and the opportunity. Could addressing PPM more effectively become a competitive differentiator?

Companies around the globe are recognizing the need to gain a tighter grip on the ins and outs of their product portfolios and gain visibility to make better business decisions to remain competitive. Companies require consistent processes, tools, and metrics to improve data availability, accuracy, and visibility. The full report goes into more recommendations and potential holistic or piecemeal approaches that companies may take to gain more control over their product pipelines and innovation plans.

Download the 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Survey conducted in February 2012 by Appleseed Partners and OpenSky Research and commissioned by Planview, Inc.

I’d like to hear from you. How does your organization compare to those who participated in the survey? What are your priorities, risks, and pains when it comes to innovation? Answer by leaving a comment below.

Three Signs Your Organization is Ready to Implement Product Portfolio Management


Your product pipeline might be perfectly streamlined and efficient. But if you're like many organizations, your portfolio may have some issues that are costing your organization in terms of revenue, product failures, and eventually reputation. Maybe you've wanted to implement a Product Portfolio Management Solution but haven't defined or designed your processes yet. Did you know that it's actually recommended that you go ahead and get started with a PPM solution so you can grow your processes as you go along? Here are some sure-fire ways to gauge whether it's time you invest in a software solution to improve your chances for success.

  1. Failed Market Launches
    Has your organization launched unsuccessful products that have blemished your brand or product line? Have you missed critical time-to-market deadlines that have cost real money? Product Portfolio Management allows you to analyze your portfolio before you make the decision on what will be on your roadmap. It enables you to evaluate every piece of your portfolio so you have a complete picture -- the impact on your brand, competition, resources, sustainability, and bottom line. What has a failed product launch cost you? Chances are, a lot more than what it would cost to implement a solution.

  2. Limited Resources
    You've repeatedly heard and our recent Benchmark Surveys have confirmed that the #1 pain point around Product Portfolio Management is too much work for available resources. You may have people presenting great ideas, but you only have a limited capacity when it comes to people. If you say 'yes' to every good idea, you spread your resources too thin and few of those good ideas actually make it to the market on time. Product Portfolio Management gives you tools to run 'what-if' scenarios before you execute. It allows you to perform comprehensive portfolio analysis to understand your current capacity, usually based on role or skill, and then evaluate all of the things in your pipeline to go on the roadmap to ensure they can actually get done on-time with the available resources. When you use your resource capacity as a filtering mechanism, you have a much higher chance of success.

  3. Market and Product Conditions
    Look at the size of your product catalog and the number of markets you serve. If you have a large number of products, multiple projects that deliver a product, a large number of metrics to analyze the performance of each product, multiple markets or global markets, or if your roadmap is frequently changing, you're ready to centralize and automate your product portfolio to maximize visibility and reduce risk. Are you still updating your roadmap manually through PowerPoint? That's a not just a sign, but a neon flashing sign telling you it's time to convert to a formal solution.

Take a look at your current product portfolio and see if any of the 3 signs above are present. If so, you just might be ready to call in reinforcements!

5 Game Changers in Product Management - Part 1


If you've been in product management for a while, you know there are a lot of things you could be doing with your time to manage your product portfolio. But which things are the most important and effective at helping your company reach its goals.

This 2-part blog series will disclose the top 5 game-changing tools that are at your disposal and can make you a hero at your organization, not to mention make your job easier.

Portfolio Prioritization -- "Are we working on the right things?"

The discipline of Portfolio Management isn't new, but applying it in a product organization may be. Your competition is prioritizing their product portfolio so their hottest products get to market. Are you? Here are the things you need to consider when evaluating your product portfolio:

  1. Will it drive revenue?
  2. Does it align with our corporate and product strategic goals?
  3. Do we have the resources to deliver it on time?
  4. What is the risk involved?
  5. How will this impact the brand?
  6. Will this help us leapfrog the competition?
  7. What will the sustainability impact be?
  8. Will our customers be delighted?

The key is to run multiple 'what if' scenario on products, projects, programs, or features to evaluate how those align with set targets, and whether you have the capacity to deliver. There are powerful tools available to product and portfolio managers that pull all of this information together onto one central page to give executives the information they need to make the decisions that drive the best, most profitable products to market.

Resource Management -- "How do I best utilize my people?"

It's simple math. If you don't have the resources to execute, you can't deliver desirable products on time and on budget. According to our annual benchmark survey on product development, this has actually been found to be the #1 pain point for product development organizations for the past two years. Effective resource management breaks down into 3 key components:

  1. Organizational capacity planning
  2. Development resource planning
  3. Ongoing change management to schedule and resource assignments

If you take this three prong approach to Resource Management, you can expect to achieve these benefits:

  • Clear visibility of demand and capacity to avoid resource bottlenecks, reduce risk, and hit launch targets
  • Forward and backward-looking resource planning to eliminate resource cost overruns
  • Resource management processes that lead to consistent, proactive responses to change

Agile Product Management -- "Why should we care?"

Making the switch from Waterfall to Agile was difficult for me. I felt like I was losing control of the schedule and what was being delivered to our customers. But I soon discovered that Agile actually gave me ultimate control and flexibility as a product manager. In fact, through our Inner Circle program, we regularly show customers what's going on and get feedback from them, involving them in the decisions that need to be made along the way, so I can ensure we're "delivering to delight." But what, specifically, does Agile do for us?

  • Iterative sprint cycle ensures we're delivering what customers want
  • Central repository for all product ideas and backlogs reduces risk and saves time
  • Ultimate flexibility with stories and priorities allows us to quickly respond to change
  • Testing done throughout development often leads to higher quality and met deadlines
  • Embrace the change to Agile. You'll come to love it, like I did.

Be sure to check back for our next blog post to learn about the remaining two game-changing tools. Louise Allen, Vice President of Product Management at Planview, will finish our series. I encourage you to evaluate your processes and tools to see if you are maximizing your product development potential.

Top 5 Trends for Product Development Companies


Not a day goes by in which I am not asked: Carrie, what do you see as the coming trends for product development companies? (Well, maybe a day or two passes without the question -- but with my travel schedule, I can be awfully hard track down.)

Given that, I thought I'd share with you the Top Five Trends for Product Development Companies that I've collected from gurus around the world.

  1. Portfolio Management: It's not just for IT anymore
    It used to be that IT was the only part of the organization applying the portfolio management discipline to its decision-making process. No more. I'm seeing a tremendous uptick in the number of R&D and Engineering groups applying portfolio management to the product portfolio.

    Why? According to Dr. Bob Cooper, Co-Founder of Stage-Gate and acknowledged braniac, "in order to win when developing new products, you must do products right and do the right products." And portfolio management can help you do both. It's really a natural fit.

  2. Ideas, I need more ideas!
    Here at Planview, we recently surveyed 900+ people in our 2nd annual product development benchmark survey. "Not being able to drive innovation fast enough" has moved up to a top 3 pain point -- from #6 last year -- neatly trading places with "cutting costs without cutting the future."

    Driving innovation by getting more ideas into the funnel, and using smart, collaborative software to manage these ideas, is critical as we all go from cost-cutting recessionary moves to growth- and innovation-intensive tactics in this new economic environment.

  3. People, I need more people!
    Ouch. Year after year -- as validated in our benchmark survey -- "too many projects for our resources" is the dubious winner as top pain point that product organizations face.

    Companies must place greater emphasis on resource capacity planning as part of the investment decision making process. No longer can they afford to look at their product portfolio myopically based solely on financial impact.

  4. Incremental will only get you incremental
    The economy's back: now, it's about the breakthrough ideas -- creating products that are new to the world and that will drive new revenue. Investing only in incremental innovation -- enhancements and modifications -- is safe, which is great when you're hedging your bets. Your competition isn't hedging its bets. Should you be?

    Smart product organizations strive for a balanced product portfolio, with resources (people and money) allocated both to breakthrough and incremental innovation. Just ask our good friends at Kalypso -- they'll point you in the right direction.

  5. It's a green world after all
    Whether it's a household cleaning product or an airline, a product's brand is now encompassing the impact on the environment. Selecting the right offerings for a product portfolio now is as much about their sustainability as it is about price point, market timing, competitive impact, and more.

    But while we all want to buy the world a Coke and sing in perfect harmony, the reality is that companies must make intelligent portfolio selections based not only on their green impact but also on their bottom-line impact, and will be making careful tradeoffs to ensure a pipeline geared to deliver the optimal mix of both.

So there you have it, Product Pulse Peeps… the top five trends I'm seeing for successful product development companies. Tell me what you're seeing!

What's the Score? Using Scoring to Align Resources


When you think about it, the aim of ANY organization is to maximize resources toward high value. That's easier said than done. What's important to one department may be less important to another. And often it's difficult to determine what's of highest value to the overall organization when multiple parties, each with crucial initiatives, are competing for the same limited resources.

Value and Risk scoring can help. Attributes for determining the value of a project or program may include items such as:

  • Regulatory / Contractual Impact
  • Socio-Political Impact
  • Strategic Alignment and Importance
  • Financial Return / Profitability
  • Competitive Advantage Impact
  • Business Operations Impact / Reliability / Efficiency
  • Probability of Commercial Success
  • Organizational and Market Leverage / Reusability / Opportunity Enablement

The above scores can be weighted, averaged, and compared with a risk score to come up with a single composite score. Typical risk areas to assess are:

  • Technical Complexity
  • Program Complexity
  • Existing Skill Base
  • Availability of people and facilities

Alternatively, some organizations simplify this into a single "Complexity" score that can be subjectively determined and set to low, medium, or high.

Having scores is not a cure-all however. The best alignment of resources should never be left to an automated system. Though a score can give a general hint at a project's relative value, ultimately, what is needed is dialogue.

Use your personal budget as an example. If you have limited funds / resources, and your spouse has important purchases coming up, and you do as well, you may need to have a discussion to evaluate tradeoffs and / or work together toward a creative solution. It is the same in business. Meanwhile, a well thought-out scoring system can help speed up the decision process.