Do you remember how Rod Serling started the “Twilight Zone” TV series each week?   He would say “For Your Consideration.”  That is exactly what I request of you in this blog entry.

An article entitled  “Case Study:  Design in Cost Reduction“, which was cited in one of the Group Discussions on LinkedIn, caught my eye the other day.  The article’s author discussed how Motorola University (MU) was working with engineers, designers, marketers, supply chain stakeholders and clients, in what they termed Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA).  

Basically, Motorola University draws on the “Cause” and “Effect” principle that fewer parts in a design will lead to less material and less labor cost in the finished product.  A colloborated and integrated effort in the Design Process, followed by a Manufacturing Process which closely follows the Design, will result in lower product cost and lower overall manufacturing cost. 

The article cited an example in which a top electronic device manufacturer used the Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) process, enabling it to complete 12 product redesign projects over a four month period, resulting in savings of $6.8 million.

The key for us, as project managers, is to recognize that the same principles can be applied in project planning and execution. 

A Design for Project Execution and Delivery (DFPED) could be developed whereby the “Cause” and “Effect” principle might read: 

Lower project cost, with increased quality of final deliverables, can be achieved by collaborated and integrated project planning and execution, which includes the project team, key designers, marketers, end user stakeholders and process/project engineers.

This is very similar to having a Balanced Scorecard concept for projects.  If you design the underlying organizational and human resource performance processes correctly, this will lead to improved overall project processes which will, in turn, lead to better customer satisfaction with the process and the deliverables, and which will ultimately lead to the project’s financial success.

Many of you will say “Yes, but.  It takes a very mature project management process and organization to fully collaborate and integrate these teams and processes such that they may fully realize this cause and effect result in the final project delivery.” 

While that may be the case, every project organization has the capability and the desire to do a better job than they are doing today in delivering projects and value to their organizations.  That desire should be enough to motivate the project organization to start an evaluation of their own Design for Manufacturing and Assembly process or, as I have defined it here,a  DFPED process.

I would like to hear some comments from some project organizations who have undertaken such process improvement initiatives, and may have even applied the DFMA framework.  Please comment if you have done so and let us know the results of such initiative.

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