On account of the Corona crisis, the command of the hour for many companies is to ensure their operational business. Nevertheless, what does this mean for development managers, product managers, business and portfolio managers as well as executives? According to Senior Expert and Service Line Manager for Lean Innovation & Development at Staufen, Tihamér Vendég, the development areas can take a sigh of relief, because they are not the focus of this crisis. Acting fast is now crucial and you do not want to miss the boat and the chance on sustainable change. In the following article, Vendég will grant you an insight into how the work environment for employees and executives will change in the different development areas after the crisis and give tangible advice on how you can ensure a stable ramp-up.
1. Establishing new, first-class methods for product design
The framework for the development and project work is currently fundamentally changing: time-oriented framework conditions, requirements for products and services, which have been transformed by the rapid virtualization and leadership at a distance. At the same time, competitors will disappear from the market, opening up new market opportunities, which, possibly, must rapidly be filled with new innovative products and services.
The crisis and the relating thereto lockdown, now offer the desired rupture, to establish new work ethics and methods during the ramp-up as soon as the crisis-related circumstances permit. Development managers, product managers, business and portfolio managers get the chance to implement new product design methods, to realize related growth opportunities, to increase quality and durability of products as well as to effectively lower product costs. This means that you have the opportunity to make a P&L-effective contribution to the economic improvement of your company.
2. Ensuring well-organized cooperation
The months after the crisis will be rough: projects that have come to a halt for weeks, have to take up speed again. Urgency will most likely overrule the importance of the projects, due to, possible, customer-related dates that have not necessarily been changed e.g. SOPs (Start of Production). Simultaneously, important resources can run out at any time due to further pandemic waves and new infection chains. On account of these factors and uncertainties, the threat of permanently changing priorities and destructive multitasking in the organization will increase. For this to be avoided, an organization requires well-organized cooperation and transparency in relevant project teams. This should be the top priority. This brings us to our next point …
3. Evaluate and prioritize a suitable product and service portfolio
Now it is essential to systematically evaluate, correctly prioritize, and align current projects as well as the future product portfolios and to generate a highly efficient contribution margin.
If we experience an economic crisis due to the COVID-19 virus and customers, as well as consumers, become more frugal, they are going to be more selective in their choices and investments. Products and services must, therefore, meet the expectations in the best possible way and be available.
4. Sensitization for changing customer needs and trends
Just as our society will change due to the crisis, so will our requirements for products and services. That is why customers’ requirements for products and services can change in the short- or long-term. Karin Frick, Research Director and Management Member of Thinktank at Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, points out that the Corona crisis is an opportunity for companies to produce in a multifunctional way. Companies who are able to react in a smart and flexible way to short-term changing demands, can e.g. switch from producing FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) to producing hygiene products. The goal should be to use the appropriate structures and methods to align and organize development work to minimize and avoid waste.
5. Include capacities for new development projects
We can observe that some companies are producing different products due to the crisis, which can be incorporated into their standard portfolio. This could provoke additional, new development projects. This might also lead to new development and cooperation partners and changes service and supply landscapes, which again entails new insourcing and networking management. Here it is key to make the corresponding internal capacities available.
6. Implementing effective leadership tools
The need for virtual cooperation or cooperation in distributed project teams is rapidly increasing and requires effective leadership instruments. Therefore, clear and transparent communication as well as effective leadership is needed, e.g. decision-making, support, and consequence. Effective leadership is now more essential than ever because it ensures that limited capacities are optimally used for the project landscape and the improvement of their own development processes.
About Tihamér Vendég
Tihamér Vendég is a Service Line Manager for Lean Innovation & Development and responsible at Staufen.AG for consulting and qualification in the research, development and engineering sector. As a trainer, consultant and management coach, Tihamer has lead numerous projects to reduce lead time, to further develop project management systems as well as in designing products to meet certain requirements and to increase performance in the development environment.