The project flexibility of IDO Electronics is a field for introducing rapid changes and adapting technologies to the specific needs of a given implementation.
This is an extremely important element during the design process that allows our clients to build competitive advantage, optimize products and processes, and strengthen the image of their companies.
What is project flexibility?
Project flexibility (understood as its adaptability) can be considered in terms of many issues, e.g. changing customer requirements, market changes, changes in the investment environment, etc.
The two most important dimensions to consider when talking about design flexibility are:
- versatility related to the possibilities of the project,
- a quick and adequate response to changes in the environment.
Why is that important? Because it allows you to modify the original version of the project at the stage of its creation. As a result, the final product will be more responsive to the real needs of the customer, and this is the basis of his satisfaction – and your profit.
How does design flexibility increase profit?
Depending on the type of project, its scope and complexity, design flexibility can have a different range of impact on the profit that will be achieved from the final product. Basically, it can be assumed that increasing flexibility works in two basic ways:
1. Limitation of losses
Many projects, especially very innovative ones, are sometimes underestimated at the outset. Often, this is not even a problem resulting from the oversight of the contracting authority or the project team, but e.g. from unforeseen circumstances such as the weather collapse, changes in market conditions (e.g. habits and requirements of consumers) and competition (implementation of a similar product). Stubborn implementation of the project without making changes may end up in the fact that, of course, the final product will be perfectly in line with the original specification, but its usability will be very low or even zero. In this case, the only thing you can do is rewrite the requirements and start the next project – as long as you still have the funds to allow it, that’s it. Some elements of the original design can be reused, but lost time and most of the resources cannot be recovered unless the investment pays off.
A much better option is to work in small steps, which force more frequent reporting. Frequent control of the project status and compliance with the requirements means that any discrepancies will be noticed faster.
In accordance with the golden triangle design principle, changes in e.g. the scope or materials needed will also extend the requirements in the other two elements. However, if the design is modified early enough, the cost of the change will be much less than creating another product from scratch.
A principle of the golden triangle of projects. Changing one design element (time, scope, or resources) implies a change in at least one of the other two elements.
This approach has another advantage because it allows you to test the final product in the environment in which it will actually function. Releasing a small, test batch can give a lot of information, especially about product loads. The lack of such tests can be catastrophic. Suffice it to mention the huge mistake made in 2016 by Samsung. The company released defective Galaxy Note 7 phones. The manufacturer has made a huge effort to get out of this situation with his face.
2. Increase in profits
Running a project using the small steps method makes it possible to create the so-called minimum viable product. This is the version of the product that has the necessary minimum functionality needed to sell it to the consumer. Subsequent product versions can add value by expanding product features. Instead of waiting for the final version, the investor starts earning much earlier, strengthening his brand and building a competitive advantage on the market.
This approach is very popular in IT projects where most of the system components are at least partially independent of each other and can be developed in parallel. Further functions of a given system are released as updates. The IT company earns from the first version of the program while observing the requirements of customers. It doesn’t waste time or resources on working on fragments that are unnecessary, which means it can better refine those that add real value.
It is more difficult to imagine using the small steps method for larger projects that include physical versions of the product, but it is also possible. Imagine a block of flats finished to the “developer state”. A construction company can sell a part of flats right away, and a part can be polished to a “turnkey state” and sold for a higher price.
How to increase project flexibility?
Of course, this is best done during the project planning phase. Implementing appropriate mechanisms before the start will allow you to quickly respond to the need for change as soon as it appears. What can you do to increase project flexibility?
- Plan sufficient time and materials. Sounds like a truism, but many companies are still trying to put the projects together, without assuming the optimal amount of time and resources needed. It seems that this allows for savings, but it is appearances because in such a case any change in the project ends with exceeding the deadlines, which may result in, e.g. contractual penalties. A much better solution is to leave yourself room for maneuver – according to the golden triangle rule discussed earlier. If the changes in the project are smaller, then the excess funds can be allocated to other projects.
- Use agile project management methods. Traditional project management methods have little or no regard for flexibility as a requirement. Meanwhile, the pace of market changes is constantly increasing. To keep up with it, use methods that allow you to maneuver freely within the project. Many technical projects can be managed in an agile way. Agile methodologies assume, among others better adjustment of the product to customer requirements, putting this value above rigid adherence to arrangements.
- Report changes. The worst-case scenario in implementing the changes in the project is the introduction of elements that do not move the project forward. Therefore, any departure from the initially adopted assumptions should be accurately described, e.g. using change reports. Such a form should answer questions such as: who proposes a change and why, what is the expected effect of the change, who should approve it. This method allows to avoid unpleasant surprises when the time of invoicing comes.
Gathering additional funds or changing the methodology of running a project once it has started is very difficult to implement. However, the last point of the above list can be used at almost every stage of project creation to make it more flexible as needed.
Maintaining the high flexibility of the project is not easy and requires some preparation before starting the project. However, it not only saves the funds allocated for this purpose in the event of changes but can also be the key to the commercial success of the project if it is used as a product optimization tool. Saving time and resources as well as customer satisfaction resulting from a product better suiting its needs is the key to building a stable brand and market advantage.