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Feature Definition Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we’ll need to answer questions and provide feedback.”

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Feature Definition processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Feature Definition performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Feature Definition performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Feature Definition practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Feature Definition performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORT- This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORT- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBD- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES- This is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASE- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARD- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAM- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLAN- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE BASED TRAINING DIAGRAM- This is a set of Power Point diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAP- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

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Feature Definition with ‘VALUE’ Process-Services™

“Feature Definition with VALUE is a process consulting offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of VALUE, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

We use the acronym VALUE to illustrate and teach the concepts necessary to communicate your strategic intent to both internal and external stakeholders concisely. The product feature articulates the promised value customers’ gain from a specific product capability. The feature needs to have enough value to motivate customers to adopt the new capability, and anticipate its launch with excitement.

The features’ value could be based on its material and monetary worth, the support it provides towards a goal or objective, its strength in manipulating emotions, or even its ability to meet specific needs. But value is a relative measure, and has as much to do with the condition of the client as it does the product. The water above has higher value here than it does in the supermarket.

During our process consultancy, we address:

Visualization– The feature descriptions need to create crystal-clear promises of capability or functionality to the customer or client. These are not marketing messages but promises engineering and development are making. Everyone needs to have the same vision before they walk away.

Accessibility– The feature shouldn’t require an understanding of industry jargon. Nor should it require an engineering degree to see how it will work. The feature should be accessible like Pop songs, they should be familiar to everyone. The feature should define easily recognizable value.

Lasting Impact– The feature shouldn’t change each launch, or new project. The feature stays, the approach to deliver it may change over time. When talking about feature impact; Duration beats magnitude.

User-Centered– In the feature’s promise, the implied value is always to increase the customers’ competitive advantage. It’s about how this feature will help them do something faster, cheaper, easier, or with less risk.

Evolved Expectations– What is special now, will be expected next time. Expectations evolve. Features don’t go away, by the way they are approached does. Change through successive generations of increasing expectations on the same feature set.

The pmNERDS process consultancy provides a standard Feature Definition capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Feature Definition practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Derive Product Features from Problem Statements, Derive Product Features from Market Opportunities, Product Features Derived from Internal Sources, TRIZ, Ranking Features Based on Asset Leveragability, Peugh's method of Feature Refinement, Feature Validation with Call Reports, Surveys, Feedback Portals, Diagramming, Animated Model Simulations, FAST Diagramming, Validation of Features Using Expert Gates, and Lead User groups.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies, as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

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Feature Definition Performance-Service™

“If we engage pmNERDS’ Consulting for Feature Definition then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our Performance-Service™ consulting practice begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap. Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities.

We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending on the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled. Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Performance Improvement Consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and use of a standard performance measure framework.

No, it’s not Christmas yet, but your customers might think so when you start getting feature definition right. Feature definition is about getting just enough of the bells and whistles to satisfy your customers, while still retaining value for your stakeholders.

The product feature is stated in an outward facing voice. The feature is one of the primary information assets in the innovation management architecture. It’s used to state a specific goal of the product capability, which can be used to create marketing messages but are not the marketing message.

By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes.

Our performance improvement consulting practice requires a discussion to determine goals, the scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current feature definition process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

It’s critical that the information assets developed within these feature definition practices can flow between other innovation processes. These practices can be divided into the two categories of Feature Conception and Feature Validation. Wherever your key constraints are, our team will help you identify the process constraints, and find practices that will improve overall performance by breaking constraints.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort. You can discover more about this service offering by clicking the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website.

We’d love to explain our services and answer any questions you might have.

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Feature Validation and Verification

If the features of the product or service you have selected to produce are validated and verified, then it will be more likely that the project development investment will increase your competitive edge, but you should consider discovering what customers do in addition to what they say about your product or service.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are popular ways to learn about people’s opinions, thoughts, and reactions to new features of products and services. They are used to gather information about how people feel and think about something that otherwise cannot be obtained by surveys or questionnaires. Unfortunately, biases can creep in. And without careful construction and execution the results can be misleading.

One of the most publicized examples of market research use of focus groups is the 1985 introduction of the new Coke. Mere weeks after its release, it was evident by the flood of complaints that the new Coke was not well received after all and the backlash caused the company to reintroduce its previous formula as Coca-Cola Classic. What went wrong?

A widespread explanation for the misleading results of the focus groups was that the wrong questions were asked. Other reasons point out that the right questions were asked, but the effects of social influence were not regarded well enough. Regardless of the conclusion about the use of focus groups to assess customer wants, you will be well served to employ additional methods. One such method is to observe what customers do.

Research Behaviors Too

In order to understand how features will be and are perceived, in addition to using focus groups or surveys, consider researching customer behaviors around your product or service in environments as close to real as possible.

First determine what is to be accomplished by the research. In the case of feature validation and verification, this kind of effort should focus on definition research and evaluation research.

Next, decide on who will be your informants or customers. Recruiting informants involves selections based on attitudes, personalities, value systems, behaviors, and experiences that match the objectives of the research. After determining the initial pool of candidates, they are screened using surveys.

Finally, determine how you will observe customer behavior either as a participant or non-participant. Many options are available for this including observing product users directly, interviewing, using field journals, recording audio, images, and recording video.

“Deal with the world as it is, not how you'd like it to be.” - Jack Welch

Learning customer wants and needs by conducting research that examines customer behavior with your product or service is a valuable addition to other tools that are available to validate and verify proposed features. Without knowing how your product or service is used in realistic environments, it will be difficult to develop a competitive set of features that are valued by your customers.

Photo by Amos Bar-Zeev on Unsplash

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Performance Requirements and Features

If the things that your product or service offers are compelling to your consumers, then it will stand out and be more attractive to your market, but you must take care to craft requirements that specifically address how the consumer will experience the value of those features

The difference between features and requirements is often blurry. That’s because in casual conversation, we normally allow for imprecise descriptions and explanations. But as integrated project managers looking after resource-intensive and risk-prone development efforts understanding, and expressing these differences clearly, will result in products and services that are more satisfying to buyers, and at a cost-position that is sustainable or competitive.

One of the World's most innovative companies of 2017, Casper Mattress, claims that its “breathable foams help you sleep cool.” So, not getting too warm while sleeping, is a feature their market sensing has determined to be a strong consumer desire they wanted to offer. In order to create a product that has breathable foams to help customers sleep cool, they undoubtedly established certain requirements for heat and moisture management their mattress material must meet.

Compelling Features

Identify compelling features after conducting a thorough market sensing program to understand buyer desires and your company’s ability to satisfy them. Compelling features are those features buyers will be able to visualize themselves using and quickly perceive the value to them. Such features must also have a lasting impact, and keep up with evolving expectations of your buyers. For some people staying cool while sleeping is highly desired and if a mattress can do that, they will try it and maybe buy it.

Performance Requirements

Identify the performance requirements. As you define requirements you should organize them in order to ensure that you will indeed satisfy customer needs while also being able to understand the cost of each. In your organization, you will want to focus on those requirements with the highest significance to your buyer, which if not met, will lose buyer satisfaction. These are referred to as performance requirements. Engineering mattress materials to keep the transfer of heat to the sleeper to a certain minimum, is a performance requirement. If after 100 nights you get too hot on a Casper mattress you will take them up on their free return pickup offer.

Identifying features compelling to your buyers, those they can quickly perceive offer value to them, and will provide long lasting value to increase your differentiation. Requirements clarify the direction, the steps and effort needed to accomplish the goal stated by a feature. Even more, defining performance requirements will help you prioritize the lists upon lists of requirements your project has, so you don’t miss satisfying the features most important to your buyers.

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