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 Effective Engineering e-Newsletter – 6/24/2004

This is your bi-weekly e-Newsletter from Effective Engineering Consulting Services (www.effectiveeng.com).  If you would like to receive Effective Engineering e-newsletters as they are published, please send an email to e-newsletter@effectiveeng.com, and we will add you to our distribution list.  Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged!


Development Methodology: Release – to Generate Revenues!
By Tom Dennis – President, Effective Engineering [tdennis@effectiveeng.com]

In two previous e-Newsletters, I described the basics of development methodologies (see eN-030828 – Development Methodology Basics: Stages of Development, and eN-030911 – Development Methodology Basics: Management of Development).  Those e-Newsletters were able to cover only very broadly the basic elements of development methodologies.  The Stages of Development e-Newsletter briefly described Requirements, Architecture, & Planning (see also eN-030925 – Development Methodologies: Requirements, eN-031009 – Development Methodologies: Architecture, and eN-031023 – Development Methodology: Failing to Plan Means You Are Planning to Fail!), and described Build & Test (see also eN-040527 – Development Methodology: Build – to Last, and eN-040610 – Development Methodology: Test – to Verify), and Release & Support as two other stages of development.  This and a subsequent e-Newsletter will cover Release and Support in somewhat more depth.  

Congratulations!  You’ve finally finished the hard work of developing a product, putting it through its paces, and you’re proud that it is finally ready for prime time.  After all the cries of, “Are we there yet?”, or “Is it soup yet?”, you can finally answer, “Yes, we’re there!”, or “Yes, it’s soup!”.  But are you really there?  Is it really soup?  No!  You’re not really there, and it’s not really soup, until you get the product properly Released!

So why aren’t you ready?  You’ve finished all the requirements, you’ve defined the architecture, you’ve built the product to the specified requirements, you’ve thoroughly tested the product to verify that it meets the requirements, all “blockers” have been fixed, and all relevant parties agree that the product is ready.  This addresses most of the product development efforts, but before the product can officially be released, all the work required of other parties in the organization must also be ready.

What must happen in order to Release the product? In order to release the product to manufacturing (the stage where the product can now be produced in quantity to be shipped to customers), documentation for manufacturing, product technical documentation, and product packaging documentation must be ready to be released to manufacturing as well.  In order to release the product to the field, customer training and customer and field support must be ready to go.  In order to effectively market and sell the product, marketing programs (e.g. rollout plans, marketing communications plans, etc.), and sales programs must be ready to go.  Finance must be ready to accept sales by whatever means are required (e.g. direct sales, distribution channels, e-business).  In short, in order for a product to be effectively Released, all functions in the company must have their acts together, and their tasks done.  This means that all of these activities must be tracked throughout the product development interval, action items must be addressed where problems are encountered, and formal sign-offs must take place at various points along the way to ensure everything can come together to enable a successful product launch. In order to make final Release formal, formal sign-off of the official release documentation must take place, where representatives of all relevant functional areas in the company accept responsibility that everything is ready for Product Release.

What happens after Release to Manufacture?  As with product development, product manufacturing is generally a complex process itself (such a manufacturing function applies to software as well as hardware products), but we will not discuss it here.  Suffice it to say that for manufacturing, Product Release information goes in, and final packaged product comes out.  This final packaged product can then be shipped to customers, and revenues can be booked, assuming demand for the product exists. 

If Marketing has done their job properly, customers will have been made aware of the product, had their interest piqued, and demand will be stimulated.  If Sales has done their job, customers will have been contacted to further stimulate interest, and more importantly, to generate orders.  If Field Support has done their job, they are prepared to support sales to answer any technical questions customers may ask.  If Customer Support has done their job, then customer problems can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.  If Finance has done their job, then orders can be easily accepted and entered into the system.  If the costs to make the product, and the expenses of all the supporting functions are in line with expectations, then profits will be made.

Always remember that THE GOAL of any corporation is TO MAKE MONEY! (See eN-030522 – Keep your Eyes on THE GOAL!)  Shipping Released product out the door, in conjunction with the proper preparation of all other relevant activities, enables your company to generate revenues, an essential step.  Assuming that costs are in line, the company can then really achieve THE GOAL!  You can finally generate revenues and make money!

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