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Chapter 13. Solving Common Project Problems > REDUCING THE TIME TO MARKET


Speed counts in your industry. The pace of change demands that your next release of a current product have a development time 20 percent less than that of the previous release. Between now and the deadline, you have to take your product through requirements, design, and construction, while building in the maximum functionality.

  • Statement of work. Fast, focused performance demands a solid foundation. Getting agreement on authority, decision structures, and responsibilities among the participating groups will ensure that you don't waste time fighting organizational battles during the project.

  • Fixed-phase estimating. Since you'll be working through the entire product development life cycle, there's no point in generating a detailed schedule from start to finish. Instead, choose several review points where you can reevaluate the functions of the product against the available resources and deadline. These review points constitute phase-end milestones. You can determine the duration of these phases using performance data from previous development efforts. You will need to stick to these review dates; for the team to meet the deadline, it must meet every phase-end milestone.

  • Project plan. Develop a detailed plan for every phase. Using a network diagram, identify all possible concurrent tasks. The concurrent tasks are the opportunities for performing more work at the same time; these are the places where adding people to the project can compress the schedule. You can use this technique to determine the largest number of people who can work on the project productively. (Don't forget the resource-leveling guidelines, though.) Just remember that compressing the schedule by adding people may result in higher project costs.

  • Completion criteria. Build quality checks into the project every step of the way. Although it may be tempting to skip some of the early quality-related activities in order to save time, you need to stay the course. It really is faster to do it right the first time.

  • Project status meetings. Be clear about responsibilities and track schedule progress rigorously. Create a culture of schedule accountability by having strong completion criteria, and show clearly that falling behind, even by a little bit, is not acceptable. Build enthusiasm and a positive attitude by celebrating victories all along the way.


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