Streamline Getting Your Products to Market with a Powerful Initiative Management Tool
Problem & Background
Next time you toss your laundry into the washing machine and measure a capful of your favorite springtime-scented detergent, take a moment to consider what made your fresh, wrinkle-free shirts possible. At one time, your laundry soap was a mere idea that a manufacturer envisioned as a product. Making it and getting it on a retailer’s shelf was going to require the alignment of thousands of decisions and processes – a choreography involving hundreds of people around the world. How can anyone keep track of it all?
Any manufacturer knows that getting a product to market is a colossal task involving multiple departments, contractors, research, and deadlines that affect all deliverables. Managing hundreds of people making thousands of decisions requires extreme organization and communication.
Our client, a major manufacturer of household goods including fabric detergents, had a problem overseeing the milestones during launch initiatives. Any change to a manufacturing line is a multi-million-dollar investment. Once research demonstrates that a change is warranted, like a new fragrance, for example, a series of tasks is initiated, each with its own set of milestones, or gates, that must be fulfilled in order for the next set of activities to begin. Any change or setback affects multiple processes. As projects progress and risks are mitigated, all project team members need to understand what the variables are and what is at stake when problems arise. In many cases, when one phase is halted for any reason, all progress stops.
Our client had been creating research artifacts and sharing them with teams around the world – each with its own content platform. Aggregating thousands of documents, surveys, charts, and spreadsheets was a cumbersome process – often prone to errors. This manufacturer was looking for a way to minimize reliance on spreadsheets and emailed documents to find a way to digitize the process. The goal was for all stakeholders to easily understand the status of actions that needed to be fulfilled, the necessary sequence, and who was responsible to meet various deadlines.
Our client needed a method of sharing highly detailed information among departments as gate posts were being reached. Vertex delivered an Initiative Management System that met these objectives and made the task of managing product launches a smooth process.
An effective Initiative Management System is not just a project management tool, but one that a business can coalesce around to collaborate in and make critical decisions. The system should have the ability to catalog and assess risks and determine whether the gating criteria can be achieved to keep the project on track. It must alert appropriate people at the right times when a certain checkpoint has been reached, and the next activity can begin. The trick is to capture all the possible components that will be needed as milestones are reached, make them easily accessible, and alert personnel when subsequent activities could commence.
That springtime scent you like? It needed to pass through milestones in departments including:
- Product research
- Formula design
Vertex’s teams put significant thought into the planning phase. Knowing that this solution needed to be scalable across the entire global organization, the team created comprehensive requirements documentation applicable to different continents and their research facilities. Vertex built a sophisticated system that eventually consisted of 40 modules that allow passage through various checkpoints as functions and deliverables were addressed and criteria were met. New tasks can begin only upon successful completion of previous milestones.
Now, regional and technical team leaders can create workflows, select functions, assign tasks, and set corresponding milestone deadlines. As more variables present themselves, the system alerts affected team members. Defining key deliverables and establishing success criteria are critical components of the new system. Dashboards show the status of each phase and who is responsible for upcoming activities.
Initiative Process Flow
Our client now enjoys complete visibility into the critical decision points of large-scale initiatives requiring hundreds of team members’ involvement. Email alerts and reminders are automatically sent to key personnel to notify them when to begin their tasks. Everyone understands how key deliverables impact the entire project. Projects can move with increased ease through milestones, ensuring that your next favorite laundry fragrance hits retail shelves soon.
- Project milestones are in one central location
- Team leaders and admins from around the world have instant access to status
- Customized workflows
- Emails are automatically triggered to alert downstream task team members to begin work
- Risks are identified and shared throughout the process
- Available on mobile devices as well as desktops
- Reduced product time-to-market
- Holistic view of project scope
- Enhanced understanding of how different departments affect the project
- Optimized scheduling of tasks
- Increased internal efficiencies
Vertex is a business and technology consulting ﬁrm that helps customers transform their business processes with leading edge technology. Learn more at www.vertexcs.com.
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