This page provides additional information to better understand the capabilities of the CERTES GROUP. Included here is a short white paper on Product Lifecycle Management and a few case studies.

Case Studies
"e-Services" " Internet " " Software " " Systems "

Article on the founding of TENET and the design of the TENET 210 computer

"Starting TENET"

 

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

INTRODUCTION

Organizational stress and rapid change brought on by broader product lines and increasing competition, complexity, and customer expectations have caused many companies to become bogged down by long, painful product cycles that fail to meet goals. Some industry sources estimate that product development project failures are running as high as 50%.

The bottom line impact of these failures can be staggering. Industry sources estimate poor quality costs the average US manufacturer 15-20% of sales. Studies show being late to market by six months reduces the five-year profits of a product as much as 33%; being over budget by 50% with on-time delivery, however, reduces profits less than 4%. How is your team doing in coping with these conditions? Are your development teams and projects characterized by any of the following conditions?

  • Lack of competitive and customer information paralyzes decision-making.
  • Projects are started prematurely with only a very fuzzy idea of the desired outcome.
  • There are no clear goals for determining if the project is successful.
  • The ultimate customer cannot be identified and is not adequately represented in the front-end process.
  • Surprises when important tasks are forgotten or not identified.
  • Miscommunication - "Nobody told me.", "What do you mean? That's not what we agreed to.".
  • Marketing, product development, manufacturing, and the customer have different, conflicting agendas.
  • Communications among distributed development teams is ineffective.
  • Adversarial we/they relationships, finger pointing, blame, and lack of cooperation.
  • Lack of visibility on cost of goods, expenses and schedules.
  • Buying and integrating quick solutions costs more and takes longer than expected.
  • Sales and profits short of goals due to late, cancelled or prematurely announced products.
  • Quality, service, support, feature, or performance failures causing customer defections.
  • Products are inconsistent with company strengths and strategy.
  • Lost momentum due to low morale and the loss of key people.
  • The product is forced out of the developers into the hands of the customer with inadequate testing, training and support.

You are not alone if you are encountering some of these problems. We have seen various combinations of these characteristics in many companies. These problems do not need to be overwhelming. There are techniques and approaches that are quite effective in providing workable solutions to these problems. They can be readily adapted to a specific situation and do not need to incur a lot of overhead.

WHAT IS NEEDED

Your company needs the certainty of attaining marketing, financial and technical goals with its product programs. Individuals contributing to the programs need experiences they would willingly repeat on future programs - autonomy and freedom from bureaucracy, cooperation, communications, support, flexibility to make rapid mid-course corrections to meet goals, and the satisfaction of winning.

Real-world experiences with start-up, growth and transitional organizations have taught us a lot about what it takes to produce successful products. Working harder is only part of the answer. It is also necessary to work smarter, and this requires a company wide way of thinking, behaving, and executing. Some characteristics of 'working smart' are:

  • Products are market driven - there is a clear vision of the customer and his requirements. If a customer cannot be identified, the project is not ready for development.
  • Customers, direct and indirect, are part of the team from the beginning. Everyone understands that their output is directed to a customer.
  • Component level thinking is replaced with product level thinking, as all activities affecting the success of the product in the customer's hands are considered.
  • Strategic information is gathered on competitors, technology, standards, and regulatory trends that may impact the project.
  • Company vision, strategies, and tactics are actively communicated to provide a common agenda for execution.
  • Plans throughout the organization are aligned with the common agenda.
  • Planning is heavily weighted toward the front-end of the cycle. Top management and all affected departments are involved.
  • The project's success factors are identified. Critical path items are identified and constantly reviewed. Both are used to focus priorities.
  • Communications and reviews are frequent, timely and relevant. Information and decision meetings record critical decisions and the reasons why they were made. Summaries are widely communicated.
  • Guidelines are developed to describe the tasks in each phase of the life cycle and the method for progressing from one phase to the next. All parties understand what they are to produce, when they are to produce it, and to whom they are to deliver it.
  • Life cycle processes are constantly improved to eliminate time consuming steps that contribute no value, empower decision making close to the affected process, obtain parallel execution of departments, save time in and smooth hand-offs.
  • Lines between departments are blurred and members cooperate rather than engage in time-consuming, arms length stimulus-response negotiations.
  • Program/project management methodologies are based on team-member participation, buy-in, measurement and accountability.
  • Goal setting and results measurement, while the product is developed and after it is shipped, are established to provide feedback for quick corrective action.

 

HOW WE CAN HELP

The CERTES GROUP can help establish a smart mode of operation. We blend marketing, operational, and technical management experiences to provide a corporate view to managing all phases of the life cycle - idea, feasibility, development, introduction, and maintenance/support. With a global, top management perspective we area able to work with personnel throughout an organization to review its current needs, design pragmatic programs to meet those needs, implement them in pilot tests, and guide them through general deployment. Complementary hands-on experiences allow us to zoom in on the details and ask the right questions when required.

The programs recommended are unique to specific circumstances and directed to solving specific problems. Based on the organization's values, environment, methods and procedures, skill sets, and the resources available, they will address any and/or all aspects of the product life cycle - from the product idea to the delivery:

  • Defining strategy, markets, customers, products, distribution channels and support programs
  • Determining product function, compatibility, performance, reliability, support of industry and regulatory standards, cost of goods and ROI
  • Requirements for manufacturing, support and maintenance
  • Development, prototype construction, testing, pre-production runs and beta shipments
  • Training of factory, support and sales personnel
  • Third party management, documentation, sales/marketing literature and media/promotion materials
  • Program and project plans, on-going sales, delivery and support
  • End of life planning and execution

The client's staff will generally carry out the implementation. We participate as advisors, facilitators or hands-on managers to achieve optimal product life cycle results. Whether formulating and initiating new product programs or revitalizing existing ones we are dedicated to the client's success, the success of their people, and to their self-sufficiency.

 HOW THE CLIENT BENEFITS

A properly applied PLM process uses pragmatic solutions customized to your specific needs to achieve tangible bottom line results. Adopting a low overhead PLM process can significantly improve your operations by:

  • Improving communications throughout the organization.
  • Defining the role of each organizational element during each phase of the process each knows what they are to deliver and to whom as well as knowing what they are to receive and from whom.
  • Defining the criteria for moving from one phase to the next what must be accomplished and who must approve it has occurred.
  • Improving product and market requirements.
  • Improving product specifications.
  • Identifying the few critical tasks that have maximum schedule impact.
  • Identifying indeterminate tasks that can be schedule killers.
  • Eliminating time consuming handoffs.
  • Eliminating tasks that do not add real value.
  • Shortening development cycles.
  • Lowering development costs.
  • Lowering organizational stress.
  • Improving on-time delivery.
  • Increasing product quality.
  • Increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Lowering maintenance costs.

We can help you achieve the confidence and certainty of being in control and to develop the skills and experiences that can be applied to future programs.

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Internet Case Study

Requirement

The founding team's business model of selling banner ads with the delivery of Yellow Pages was not meeting goals and the company needed to be re-started with a new business model.

Solution

CERTES GROUP was engaged to replace the COO and build the operations team required to execute the new business plan.

  • Developed a plan to implement new business model.
  • Identified source and negotiated acquisition of new accounting system.
  • Identified source and negotiated acquisition of software to manage multiple-level sales organization.
  • Identified source and negotiated contract to place Internet servers with co-location service.
  • Defined production flow and tools needed for producing large number of web sites.
  • Identified outside resources to assist with web site production.
  • Defined processes for billing and collections.
  • Recruited web site production staff.
  • Recruited staff to support sales organization.
  • Recruited IS staff.
  • Assisted with recruiting of CTO, CFO, VP Marketing, and VP Operations.
  • Made monthly presentations at board meeting.

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Software Case Study

Requirement

The founders of this privately held software company wanted to change the focus of the company from custom software development to standard products for popular industry platforms, but needed assistance in making the transition.

Solution

CERTES GROUP was engaged to analyze existing sales/marketing teams, define changes to them, and provide the VP Marketing role.

  • Developed re-organization plan and gained board approval.
  • Reconciled revenue with expenses leading to downsizing.
  • Established budgetary and expense control procedures.
  • Improved P&L procedures for revenue and expense forecasts.
  • Surveyed market and identified need for new, complementary products.
  • Initiated relationships to acquire complementary products and improve time to market over in-house solutions.
  • Replaced ad agency and hired PR agency to align MARCOM efforts with product direction.
  • Improved the communications to the developer/reseller channel.
  • Increased support of European office to double sales.
  • Instituted improved processes for customer support and their interface to development.
  • Resulting changes helped significantly in positioning the company for sale, thereby allowing the owners to cash-out.

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e-Services Case Study

Requirement

A domestic company with a wholly owned offshore subsidiary in SE Asia needed an experienced management team to secure funding and provide the management skills of running a distributed, multi-cultural organization.

Solution

CERTES GROUP was engaged by the Board of Directors to provide the President/COO role, help secure financing, and move the company out of its startup phase.

  • Repositioned products and services.
  • Developed marketing plan with consistent vocabulary and messages.
  • Developed business and operations plans.
  • Developed investor presentations.
  • Determined cost/pricing models for products and services.
  • Consolidated multiple offshore facilities for greater efficiency, improved recruiting, and greater customer credibility.
  • Developed budgetary procedures which front-ended GAPP compliant financial reports.
  • Developed Product Management processes.
  • Staffed CFO, VP Business Development, VP Sales, and Director MarCom positions.
  • Made investor and BOD presentations.
  • Established credibility with funding sources and gained increased commitments for funding.

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Systems Case Study

Requirement

Company had tentative agreement with partner to build proprietary hardware and software for a secure, information metering application, but needed additional study before committing to permanent staffing.

Solution

CERTES GROUP was engaged to provide Program/Project management services during the incubation period.

  • Met with partner to review business plan, market requirements, and product requirements and discovered they were inadequate or didn't exist.
  • Developed market and product requirements leading to significant changes in the firmware and software.
  • Worked with partner to define the division of labor and the management of the program that had multiple development sites around the country.
  • Developed project plan.
  • Recruited staff to implement the on-chip and desktop software.
  • Worked with partner to define the back-end transaction processing systems.
  • Effort then transitioned to another partner wanting to use the technology in a DVD based, set-top box application.
  • Worked with them on the requirements for their business model.
  • Developed project plan to meet these requirements.
  • Received large order from them.

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