Successful New Product Delivery
Investment management products are different. At the end of a new product what is to show for all the expended man hours of investment? There’s no shiny piece of must have technology or smiling customers driving the product from the forecourt. At best there is a brochure and even that is rarity these days, maybe it’s featured on a website or maybe it’s just an identifying code on an exchange.
Yes, it’s hard to get a buzz from developing a product in financial services. Maybe that is why the lead times are long for something that doesn’t need to be physically built. Maybe that’s why the business functions involved in product development are often not excited about another product to add to their workload and that’s why so much time and energy is expended on the front end design before the actual build phase gets traction – its more exciting and it is not constrained by operational practicalities or regulatory barriers.
There is nothing wrong in spending time on the research and design phase of the product development. On the contrary that is where the time, energy and thinking should be expended to design the best products that the market is not only demanding now but in the future to get ahead of the competition and establish an innovative presence in your chosen market. But how often in a new product development project do the idea generators either lose interest in the build and implementation phase, or get sucked into the detail and their time for developing new product ideas get swamped by wiring the operating model or navigating the regulatory maze? Of course the designer or architect of the product idea should be the engaged in the product development from start to finish, however, should they be the principle driver of the product development project? Is their time and expertise being best deployed? Is project management of the product development in their core skill set? Would they and the business be better served by handing responsibility to a project manager who specialises in new product launches?
That is the key thinking behind ISC’s Product Development Service. ISC has formed a team of consultants with in depth experience of managing new product development projects. The ISC team are skilled in managing all the dynamics of a product launch – underpinned by sound project management disciplines.
Whilst strong project management capabilities are a must, what else must a specialist in New Product Development bring? They must be able to quickly gain the respect of the investment team – if they want to be entrusted with making the product ‘blueprint’ a reality. Next they must be equally confident in leading the drafting of the Prospectus as designing the product’s Operating Model. They must be able to talk the language of the compliance specialist as well as investment operations; able to switch from defining the fund structure to the trade settlement process. It’s a very diverse role covering multiple disciplines. Now of course the NPD project manager cannot be the subject matter expert across all business teams and functions involved in the product delivery, but must be able to engage with all of them and have the ability to manage the product development from start to finish. The last point is perhaps the most important – having a point person who can stay the distance and take the product blueprint through all phases of the product development lifecycle and is still there when the launch button is pressed is vital in ensuring certainty of delivery.
ISC specialises in providing experienced consultants with a strong track record of new product development. ISC’s consultants combine extensive investment management change experience with strong project management disciplines. In addition to their product-related experience they may have experience of delivering relevant operational and regulatory related projects, as well as being members of a consultancy practice dedicated to investment management. This enables them to be able to tap into a wider knowledge base such that any complications or additional requirements encountered during the product development project are in safe hands. This leaves the investment and product teams to drive the new product strategy.
This article has been written by Ben Walder, one of our highly valued associates who has worked extensively in the product development space.