Competitiveness on quality

Figure 1-3 shows the gap on speed to market or new product development times. If the gap is large between you and either the industry average or your major competitor, then to win the battle you must develop a project management methodology that allows for the overlapping of life cycle phases combined with appreciable risk-taking. The larger the gap, the greater the risks to be taken. If the gap cannot be closed, then your organization must decide if its future should rest on the shoulders of a "first-to-market" approach or if a less critical "me-too" product approach is best. Another unfavorable result would be the firm's inability to compete on full product lines. The latter could impact the firm's revenue stream.

FIGURE 1-3. Gap analysis (time).

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FIGURE 1-3. Gap analysis (time).

Another critical aspect of the schedule gap analysis shown in Figure 1-3 is customer's future expectations. Consider, for example, the auto manufacturers and their tier one suppliers. Today, these organizations operate on a three-year life cycle from concept to first production run. If you were a tier one supplier, however, and you found out that your primary customers were experimenting with a 24-month car, then you would need to perform strategic planning, not only to be competitive but also to be able to react quickly should your customers mandate schedule compression.

A gap on cost is an even more serious situation. Figure 1-4 illustrates the cost or pricing gap. Strategic planning for project management can include for provisions in the methodology for better estimating techniques, the creation of lessons learned files on previous costing, and possibly the purchasing of historical databases for cost estimating.

Good project management methodologies allow work to be accomplished in less time, at lower cost, with fewer resources, and without any sacrifice in quality. But if a cost/pricing gap still persists despite good project management, then the organization may either have to be more selective about which projects it accepts or choose to compete on quality rather than on cost. The latter assumes that your customers would be willing to pay a higher price for added quality or added value features.

Gaps on time and cost may not necessarily limit the markets in which you compete. However, gaps on quality, as shown in Figure 1-5, can severely hinder

FIGURE 1-4. Gap analysis (cost).

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FIGURE 1-4. Gap analysis (cost).

your firm's ability to compete. The critical gap in Figure 1-5 is the difference between the customer's expectations of quality and what you can deliver. Good project management methodologies can include policies, procedures, and guidelines for improving quality. However, the gap on quality takes a lot longer to compress than the gaps on time and cost.

FIGURE 1-5. Gap analysis (quality).
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