The business calendars of many consumer product markets allow simplification of the management of concurrent product development projects.
The path and timing for new product introduction into specific consumer markets are typically constrained by a few well-defined sales-driven events.
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Depending on the specifics of the market, the events can be industry-wide (e.g., trade shows and buying fairs), driven by the specifics of the customers (e.g., opens-to-buy, consumer catalog design freeze dates, and planned promotional events), or the manufacturers themselves (e.g., sales meetings, and catalog/price list release dates).
If products that are under development do not meet these key dates, their release is out of sync with buyer and market expectations and planning, resulting in less successful market introductions.
While business calendars constrain the latter stages of the product development schedule, they also provide an opportunity to simplify the management of parallel projects by allowing a single calendar to be overlaid on much of the development process. Since, within a product category, development projects frequently require the same or similar tasks, to a large degree these projects can be run concurrently using a common process.
Larger projects are often split into stages (e.g., Ideation, Concept Development, Design, Commercialization, and Launch) that are separated by gate reviews to minimize the investment risk as projects work their way through to market release. Dividing project tasks into different stages with clearly defined gates also help the visualization of the status of large, complex projects by breaking them down into tractable groups of related work elements.
Concurrent development projects that share a common calendar and process can be easily managed using visual control boards that have been popularized in many lean processes.