Better R&D for a Fortune 100 agriculture company

Manufacturer takes products to market faster with a custom planning application that digitized a manual, excel-based process.

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Project:Custom portfolio management solution Date Completed:

Opportunity

One of the world’s largest agriculture and manufacturing companies identified an opportunity to digitize a product portfolio management workflow. To plan which products to develop and take to market, the organization needed to factor in numerous ongoing efforts and effectively coordinate delivery of power plants, cabins, in-cabin software, articulating arms, and other components. Bogging down the decision-making process was the manual, Excel-based system that company had previously employed.

Each department had its own portfolio manager maintaining its own set of data, in different styles and formats. This time-consuming method prevented cross-departmental collaboration among portfolio planners, managers, and executives—not to mention lack of data integrity and history.

Results

Sensing the acute need for a software solution, one portfolio manager researched out-of-the-box portfolio management tools. Once he realized that existing products were limited to tracking IT activities or financial portfolios, he approached Devbridge Group. Through discussions, Devbridge helped the portfolio manager discern what his company truly needed: an enterprise-wide product portfolio planning application.

Together, the team decided that the application needed to be tailored to the company’s portfolio planning workflow, with roadmap views illustrating the interconnectedness among different departments’ projects. The goal would be for stakeholders to see the pros and cons and financial ramifications of different products and feature sets.

Digital transformation in manufacturing

“This client understood quickly that it had a unique need, which could only be solved by building custom software,” explained Eric Schmitt, Managing Director, Devbridge. “A unique solution would give them more control over the evolution of the application to ensure its acceptance across the entire corporation.”

Approach

Via the agile development approach, Devbridge pinpointed lean requirements, conducted workshops, and rapidly created a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), or proof-of-concept. This Version 1—customized for the client’s needs—went live, in parallel with legacy approaches for validation.

Over the next several months, Devbridge improved the application, in response to user experiences and company requests. By Version 3, the solution was released to two departments. The goal for Version 4 is a roll-out across the entire enterprise, providing global efficiencies.

“Overall, creating a custom application gave the client a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace—essentially being able to more accurately schedule, plan, and ship products to market,” Schmitt said.

Rapid implementation timeline:

Version 1

January 2016

Provided a proof-of-concept addressing portfolio planning needs of one department. Enabled data manipulation of Excel artifacts, and included a roadmap for visualizing timelines showing interdependencies of solutions, projects, platforms, and regions. Included pivot-table functionality, allowing for ad-hoc reporting across various dimensions.

Version 2

May 2016

Added analysis and prioritization (scorecard) functions and more roadmap views from different stakeholders’ perspectives, bringing transparency and improving alignment with platforms and regions.

Version 2.5

September 2016

 Added parameters for project classification and prioritization and improved user experience.

Version 3

April 2017

Added core functionality, such as scenario planning, enhanced security, and UI/UX enhancements.

Version 3.1

December 2017

Incorporated changes to the product line roadmap view and improved usability based on feedback. 

Version 4

Ongoing

The team plans to scale the app to the entire enterprise (enabling a company-wide view of portfolio plans) and to completely eliminate Excel usage for portfolio management.

Key solution features

  • Customized, full-fledged portfolio management solution.
  • Roadmap views from different perspectives for visualizing timelines.
  • Pivot-table functionality, with ad-hoc reporting across various dimensions.
  • Analysis and prioritization (scorecard) functions.
  • Parameters for project classification and prioritization.
  • Scenario planning.
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