Business Development

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By Geoff Vincent (auth.)

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Production engineering expertise can and should be made accessible throughout the development phase, to give views and suggestions on different implementation options. This approach is increasingly being adopted by companies around the world to reduce development time and stay competitive. What happens at the end of development, then, is not a replacement of team A by team B, but a change in team composition. Some team members may drop out (or be available on call) as their work is completed; new members will be brought in with specific production expertise to boost the skills in this area.

DEPARTMENT VERSUS FUNCTION Many development organisations are structured according to engineering discipline: an electronics department, a mechanical engineering department, a software department and so on. This helps to build expertise and exchange ideas in each discipline, but it can cause problems when it comes to a project. Loyalty is built up to the department rather than the project, and creating a team spirit can be hard work. Project teams usually return to their own departments to work, creating communication problems.

And, of course, considerable investment was required to keep the whole exercise going. Modern planning tools, based on microcomputers, have transformed the situation. Inexpensive and powerful microcomputers, together with new software planning packages, have made the most sophisticated techiques directly available to the project leader in a simple and accessible form. The latest planning packages have graphical interfaces so that project plans can be drawn directly on the computer screen. Using these tools, a moderately complex plan can be updated in about half an hour, and the results seen immediately.

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