Back to Basics: ensuring that the correct product is delivered to customers
Claudy Almont, Senior Consultant of Renault-Nissan Consulting, reflects on the importance of ensuring that the correct product is delivered to customers.
If you asked many people what are the very basics in project delivery, I am sure you would get different responses. From stakeholder management to project scope and team management, all form part of the unquestionably necessary base to be laid out for a successful project.
Yet, in my experience, one of the key basics that is, often overlooked but has a major impact on the success of the project involves going through the process of understanding the problem in depth and its root causes to then define clear requirements and specifications that will meet the client’s expectations and solve the issue.
My experience managing projects has shown me that often, customers tend to express solutions first rather than having an understanding of what the problem truly is. How do we know that the proposed solution will be effective? Has a proper root cause analysis been conducted to identify the significant sources of the problem? Ultimately, we could end up producing the wrong product, resulting in pure waste and client dissatisfaction (and not mention that the problem would be even bigger by then).
In Lean Six Sigma projects, one key deliverable of the Define phase is making sure the Voice of the Customer (or that of the Business) has been captured and turned into clear requirements that can then be measured. Equally, it is important to truly identify the causes of problems so that effective solutions are put into place. Although every project may not be a Lean or Six Sigma project per se, taking the time to sit down with the client to conduct a proper root cause analysis, gather their requirements, and then validate the proposed solution before launching the project is crucial.
I have witnessed projects that were launched and generated frustration from the end user as the new tool that was deployed simply failed to offer the functionalities needed. What happened? The decision was taken to move from one system to another without previously gathering the specifications of the new system and compare to the old one and to the end user’s voice to ensure it would deliver what the end user wanted. The new tool ended up being everything but useful. For any company, the cost of implementing the wrong systems or launching the wrong products is simply a luxury that they cannot afford if they want stay competitive. As far as I’m concerned, when managing the deployment of a new project, be it a new system or product, I make sure that:
- A proper root cause has been conducted
- There is a clear and agreed definition of what the client wants to achieve
- The proposed solution will meet or exceed expectations and deliver tangible results (for instance, completing a PUGH matrix and conducting a (Process) Failure Mode and Effect Analysis will help assess what the best solution is)
- Validate the solution with the target audience and stakeholders.
By going through this process, there is no doubt that the product that will be deployed will be the correct one and clients will be satisfied.