Many manufacturers struggle with accelerating their product development timelines. Just how does one do that? The answer is Scrum, a process framework for developing complex products. One could say it is an approach that applies Lean principles to product development cycles.
For those of you not familiar with Scrum, here’s a straightforward description of its fundamentals:*
What are the benefits of using Scrum? Here are a few worth mentioning: reduced speed-to-market timelines often result in lower product development costs; products are more on-target with customer needs; profitability increases, due to more successful product launches; and manufacturers can use their own teams of employees with a minimum of training and no required certifications.
Scrum has historically been used for software development. To a lesser degree, it’s been used on hard goods, such as cars, computer hardware, and aerospace products. However, based upon extensive research, there are not many documented cases for Scrum usage on manufactured goods. A real need definitely exists (how many manufacturers don’t want to accelerate the speed-to-market for their products?).
With the lack of established precedent, how does one go about implementing Scrum for manufactured goods? I had the same question and therefore began work on an answer.
Schier Products in Edwardsville wanted to do exactly what we’re talking about: implement a Scrum strategy for product development purposes. Their existing stage gate process was both inefficient and ineffective; their last new product development effort required two years to complete. Schier’s goal was to speed up their development timelines. I partnered with them to do just that.
Although my knowledge of Scrum is extensive, I had never before applied Scrum principles to manufactured goods, so there was a short period of trial and error. Hardware is obviously different from software in a lot of ways, so it took some adaptation and ingenuity to make Scrum work for them.
What have been the results? It required two months to develop and implement the process, and Schier is currently up and running with it. Better yet, they are on track to launch their latest new product within only six months of implementation. That is a whole lot better than two years!
I believe Scrum is a strong solution for increasing speed-to-market timelines for manufactured goods. Schier would have to agree as well!
If you are interested in learning more, please contact me at 816-429-1042 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Credit: Ramakrishna (Ramki) Ravulapalli
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