By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
Don't you love those conversations with friends that help create connections between nebulous thoughts that swirl around in your brain and succinctly summarize their meaning? Well, I had one of those conversations a while back. This friend of mine said one thing that has stuck with me. She put words to my life's mission into one sentence:
Kathy, you're all about helping people become the best versions of themselves.
Wow, she hit the nail on the head. I really couldn't say it better myself!
As a certified life coach, I love to help people step into all the good life has in store. I'm also involved in prison ministry. As a worship leader, I can lead the inmate band at our monthly worship services. The men we work with appreciate what we do for them. Knowing I make a difference in people's lives makes my heart sing!
So, why am I sharing this with you? Well, it translates well into my passion for work. I'm all about helping businesses become the best that they can be!
The primary way I do that is through business transformation. Streamlining operations or undertaking projects to improve your business can result in a healthier bottom line. And that leads to the tagline for my business:
I help organizations become profitable beyond their imagination! I do this through the following approaches:
The one service offering I'm most excited about is project management. I use my project management skills to run all kinds of initiatives: process improvement, IT, product development, and customer experience, to name a few.
And I've experienced some great results!
Voice of the Customer:
For all these reasons listed above, I'm passionate about what I do—helping businesses become the best that they can be!
So, that's enough about me. I'd love to find out more about what you do!
Are you facing any challenges in your business? I'd love to hop on a Zoom or phone call to brainstorm some solutions with you—for free!
If that sounds good, click the button below to schedule a time for us to talk.
By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
As a business leader, have you ever experienced significant shortfalls with your customers that resulted in poor reviews or lost business?
If this rings true for you, there is a solution that can prevent this from happening again—Voice of the Customer (VOC). It’s an invaluable tool for any business leader’s toolbox!
Here's a great example of how one of my amazing clients turned a potentially harmful situation into a multi-million dollar outcome using VOC.
This local manufacturer didn't have a standard process for gathering customer requirements to ensure proper incorporation before new product development efforts started nor to monitor them continually during the process.
This problem became very evident when the following scenario happened.
My client had recently established an innovation arm of their business for developing smart technology products. One day, they called upon an electrical contractor to install a prototype of their first new innovative product at a work site.
Much to my client's chagrin, the contractor informed them that they had made a massive mistake in the housing of the product, making it non-functional in its current state. This mistake could have caused ALL kinds of serious issues, especially if they had to go back through a lengthy UL approval process. Thankfully, that wasn't the case!
That's when the CEO decided to bring me in to develop a new approach they could integrate into their product development process.
We got right to work! I teamed with them to create "how-to kits" for each different VOC type: surveys, focus groups, and customer visits, to name a few. Then we integrated the how-to kits into different phases of their product development process. That way, end users would know how to gather customer feedback at the correct times and places. Not only that, the process helped to ensure they incorporated that feedback into developing products.
The outcome was excellent! The first new product that used the VOC process experienced the following:
My client has been thrilled with the results!
Another great thing about this process is that it's a drop-in system that can be easily adapted to other product development processes and even works for service delivery models. This aspect can benefit a company, allowing quicker and less costly implementations.
And when it comes to process deployments, who doesn't want that?
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As a "thank you" for reading my blog, here's a freebie I'd like to share with those of you who develop products—a Product Development Checklist. If you're new in this space, it can start you down the road of creating such a process or help you improve the one you already have. If you have a mature approach, feel free to adapt any new insights to improve your current process.
Either way, I'd love to have you check it out! Just click the button below to download it.
By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
In our post-pandemic business environment, how do manufacturers not just survive but thrive? With tight budgets, how do they also develop innovative products and get them to market more quickly?
All manufacturing product managers need to know the one thing that's the answer to both questions! In a nutshell, it's Scrum. And I’m not talking about a rugby move. It's a whole different animal, so let's define it concerning product development:
It's a process framework for developing products, all the way from envisioning the product to its completion. To put it simply, cross-functional team members come together to create products in an iterative flow that solves problems in real-time.
Benefits of Scrum
There are lots of reasons why manufacturers can reap benefits from Scrum. Here are a few worth mentioning:
Scrum for Hardware
Scrum has historically been used for software development. To a lesser degree, it's been used on manufactured goods, such as cars, computer hardware, and aerospace products. However, it's not common for Scrum usage on manufactured goods, aka Scrum for Hardware. A genuine need 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, KS, wanted to do what we're talking about: implement a Scrum strategy for product development purposes. Their existing stage-gate process was inefficient and ineffective; their last new product development effort required two to three years to complete! Schier’s goal was to speed up their development timelines. I partnered with them to do just that.
Adapting Scrum to Hardware
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 different from software in many ways, so it took some adaptation and ingenuity to make Scrum work for them.
The result has been fantastic! It required two months to develop and implement the process, and it took only ten months to launch their newest product. Not only that, the flexible nature of Scrum allowed them to develop five additional modular subsystems that fit across their whole product line. If you include that accomplishment into the mix, that’s a +100% increase in speed-to-market! That is a whole lot better than two-to-three years!
As evidenced by Schier's success, Scrum is a robust solution for increasing speed-to-market timelines for manufactured goods. They are so thrilled with Scrum; they plan to implement it enterprise-wide!
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How is your product development process working for you? If it could use some sprucing up, then download my free Product Development Checklist. It will provide you some structure and potential improvements to your existing process.
Click the button below to download this freebie!