As we have seen, global product development is a here to stay – whether organizations like it or not. Managing virtual teams is not easy. The article The Practice of Global Product Development from MIT Sloan Review has interesting models and checklists for organizations considering international or global product development (GPD).
The first suggestion in the article is to deploy GPD in stages (start with process outsourcing, move to components and then to design).
The article also lays out key success factors for GPD. I am going to rearrange and rephrase to make them a bit more succinct:
- Management Priority: Clearly, global R&D is a big challenge – it requires major organizational and cultural change. None of it is possible without senior executive priority.
- Core Competence (Clear strategy): Clear understanding of what is core to company and what can be outsourced is also key. I have seen many organizations that stumbled through outsourcing R&D and lost market share because of duplicate capabilities.
- Modularity (Process and Product): To outsource a portion of the work, it needs to be easily separable. Modular processes and products are clearly required for outsourcing.
- Infrastructure (Intellectual Property, Governance, Project Management, Data Quality, Change Management): Infrastructure is needed to manage global product development. The organization needs to be able to control IP such that each location can work its piece and critical IP is not exposed unnecessarily. Also, processes, tools and metrics need to be in place for virtual team management. Finally, since GPD is a major change, change-management will be needed to make sure it succeeds.
- Collaborative Culture