How to Succeed in Distributed Product Development

28 Mar 2011 Sandeep Mehta

As the pace of R&D increases around the world. there is in an increased emphasis on distributed product development across multiple organizations and multiple cultures.  In fact, as we have discussed, the trend is to co-design subsystems and components across multiple organizations to improve time to market.  Many observers have identified R&D management to be a significant challenge in this distributed development multi-cultural environment.

Putting It Together: How to Succeed in Distributed Product Development from the Sloan School of business has a good list of considerations (bold text below with my thoughts following) :

  1. The flippant answer — “very carefully” — is also the right one: Please see this post on how to  manage virtual teams.
  2. Communication must be perfectly clear, especially if the project involves people from different cultures:  See this post about spurring cross-functional integration in multi-cultural teams.   Or this one about building focused R&D communities.  See this one about keeping the team loose
  3. Incentives must be carefully aligned: See this post for information about what drives satisfaction  in multi-cultural teams. Or this post for boosting performance of virtual teams.
  4. Despite upfront planning, you still should be ready to adapt and realign as the inevitable snags occur.

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