In my last few blogs I discussed the skills gap — that chasm between the skills and expertise within a team, and the skills that are actually needed to successfully execute a particular project.
This gap is created by advances in industry and technology. No matter how far out in front of your market you are, changes in adjacent spaces create opportunities for you, as well as your competitors.
It’s important understand that this gap is chronic, rooted in the changing nature of our economy, and not simply a result of a particular person leaving or a specific project’s requirements.
Thus, the skills gap is a problem worthy of a longer-term strategy, blending into your company’s other HR requirements and goals.
Examining the Problem
Your skills gap and resulting product development problem can roughly be divided into two parts: figuring out what to do, and figuring out how to do it.
Everyday someone wants to persuade you to try a new way to build a product. Or promote it. Or sell it. It’s revolutionary, they claim. A game-changer, they decry.
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.
But you know that choosing a winning idea is art. Without a crystal ball, it's hard to know if you can sell golf balls using Instagram, or pick stocks using artificial intelligence. Another day, I’ll share my thoughts on weighing your options and figuring out what move to make. But, right now I want to talk about the how.
Developing Your Product
Once you decide to bet by trying something new, or you see a competitor showing success with something novel, figuring how to do it is a tractable problem.
You know what you want to do, say build a next-gen medical device. But you many not know how to actually accomplish that feat. Before you can determine your optimal solution for developing your new product and getting it out the door, you need to take a step back and examine the overall product lifecycle.
Each phase of your product’s development — from beta through multiple releases — has its own unique challenges and requirements. When solving for the how piece of the equation, you need to ensure the solution you choose is optimized for the particular phase you’re in.
Here’s what I mean. Say you’re working on the inaugural release of your new device. The opportunity — and the challenge — is getting Version 1 to market quickly. Development windows are only open for a limited time so if you’re late with your product, even by a few weeks, the market that you’ve carefully researched and planned for may have eroded.
Competitors who launched on schedule will beat you to the punch. They’ll have firmly established a foothold in the market before you even introduce your device so selling your product may be an uphill battle even if it is superior to those that hit the market before you.
That’s why when starting out on this new endeavor, the most critical step is to establish the right plan — and to do this you need the best team you can muster.
Making even a slightly wrong decision at this point risks starting your project on the wrong foot, leading to costly overruns and delays. But, you’re working in uncharted territory, making it difficult to know whether you have the right people making the right decisions.
What should you do? In this phase of the development lifecycle, successfully closing your skills gap means staffing effectively. This is the time to bring in a specialist team to add to your own.
Selecting the Right Team
Most often, companies understand their market and the problem they are trying to solve. Their skills gap relates to the solution — figuring out how to execute effectively, while adhering to an aggressive timeline.
The right people, tools and process are key to your project’s success.
Projects have many parts with various degrees of risk. An effective external team has the knowledge and bandwidth to understand your risk, solve your most pressing problems to lower that risk, accommodate your critical development milestones and deliver a short-term, all-out project surge that is beyond the capabilities of your day-to-day resources.
When staffing your project, make sure that the aspects of the project with the most risk or the most value-added (like the initial product release) are assigned to the most-skilled team: one comprised of professionals experienced with projects like yours. Who have seen and solved relevant problems for other companies in your industry. Who have a lengthy track record for solving similar issues in adjacent spaces.
Concerned about cost? By choosing the right team, you’ll get you to market much, much faster than you could on your own, ultimately saving you money and helping you capture market share while the opportunity still exists.
As you race to market or expand your product portfolio, the last thing you want is uncertainty. In the world of product development, no surprises are good surprises.
Choosing the right team helps mitigate your risk.
Thinking of building a new product? Have one in development? ICS can help you hit your target quickly and cost-effectively. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll show you how.