Product Development Metrics Consulting

Consulting Services at TCGen Inc.

Too many companies are measuring the wrong things, in the wrong way, and ending up with the wrong results.

Product Management capability is emerging as one of the most important for innovative companies. Product Management takes three things – raw talent, organizational capability and influence. TCGen helps companies gain Product Management capability. We help to build product managers into influencers, through superior decision making and leadership.

“We’re making better decisions, faster”“We’re making better decisions, faster”

— Apple Executive

Teams are either charged with arbitrary time-to-market goals or tasked with collecting product development metrics because they’re easy to gather rather than useful. As a result, organizations don’t get the benefits from the science or practice of measurement. Even worse, they can focus on validating whether they have succeeded or failed instead of measuring the behaviors that drive success.

Predictive product development metrics are the solution. Predictive metrics target a specific behavior that drives a clearly defined result. These metrics provide a direct line of sight between the project goal and the three to five key measures. They allow project leadership to seed improvements throughout the organization.

Metrics can more often than not lead to bad behavior.

(for example the reputational damage and huge financial impact that Wells Fargo did to themselves with metrics gone wrong). Our research and client work involving over twenty-five implementations of Product Development Metrics, show that the right kind of metric systems, involving a selection of a small number of highly targeted metrics, and short time constants can yield rapid results in increasing team speed and predictability.

We tie metrics to the most important levers of organization improvement. For each of these key improvement levers, we establish a target metric with the aim of seeding the changes within the organization so that they take root. Only when our metrics indicate that an improvement is taking hold do we move on to the next transformation. Metrics that we often use to predict outcomes are behavioral. We measure behavior to manage improvement.  For example, when putting in place a new, and lean set of scrum methodologies, we measure the percent of teams that use the names of these new methodologies in their retrospectives. Very simple, yet precise metrics can be instrumental in gauging a company’s progress.

This inch wide, mile deep approach creates results quickly. TCGen then monitors the behavioral change over time to see that it is taking hold. We use the feedback we receive over time to finetune metrics as needed. We manage change by measuring behavior.

TCGen’s approach includes…

  • A lightweight process that manages the day-to-day decisions that move and filter product concepts as they make their way toward the pipeline
  • A yearly strategic planning process for new products and product innovation.
  • A methodology that aligns the Board, the CEO, Business Development and the rest of the C-Suite.

TCGen’s Product Development Metrics expertise addresses a range of problems…

  • Too many companies are collecting the wrong metrics, numbers that measure results in the past. Result Metrics are essential to collect but not adequate without predictive metrics that track behavior and drive change.
  • Some companies are challenged when it comes to product portfolio management and a lack of proper measurements is part of the problem. Within a portfolio of products, a company might direct a targeted percentage of the R&D budget toward those new products that involve new technologies and new markets. In this case, the metric you choose should depend on your company’s risk profile, which governs the balance between breakthrough and incremental product development projects. However, this strategic metric measures a result. While it points the arrow toward ‘True North’ it does not measure how effective your 10% investment really is. Ideally, organizations should also have a predictive metric that demonstrates that the team is executing effectively, for example milestone hit rate.
  • As companies grow and programs multiply, discipline can erode. Operational measures as well as predictive metrics to drive specific behaviors instill discipline and encourage continuous improvement as businesses mature. It takes small steps and steady discipline to keep the culture of a company intact – or to improve the culture as the need arises.
  • Not just for software any more, product companies are beginning to take advantage of the numerous tools in the Agile kit that can help them get an edge. Having the right product development metrics is essential for motivating change and pushing the right levers to shift a culture in the Agile direction 

Product Development Expert

John Carter is a widely respected expert on product development. He is an inventor of Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones and designer of Apple’s New Product Process. As Founder of TCGen Inc., he has consulted for Abbott, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Mozilla, Roche, and 3M.