Developing Products on "Internet Time": The Anatomy of a Flexible Development Process
Uncertain and dynamic environments present fundamental challenges to managers of the new product development process. Between successive product generations, significant evolutions can occur in both the customer needs a product must address and the technologies it employs to satisfy these needs. Even within a single development project, firms must respond to new information, or risk developing a product that is obsolete the day it is launched. This paper examines the characteristics of an effective development process in one such environment---the Internet software industry. Using data on 29 completed development projects we show that in this industry, constructs that support a more flexible development process are associated with better-performing projects. This flexible process is characterized by the ability to generate and respond to new information for a longer proportion of a development cycle. The constructs that support such a process are greater investments in architectural design, earlier feedback on product performance from the market, and the use of a development team with greater amounts of "generational" experience. Our results suggest that investments in architectural design play a dual role in a flexible process: First, through the need to select an architecture that maximizes product performance and, second, through the need to select an architecture that facilitates development process flexibility. We provide examples from our fieldwork to support this view.
Volume (Year): 47 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
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