Product Line Velocity is speed in a direction toward a line’s objectives.
Speed, by itself, does not have a direction.
In single product thinking, speed is the time it takes to carry out a task. The time to develop a product is a measure of speed. Velocity in product line systems thinking is the change in the position toward objectives versus time. It’s the speed of the product line in getting from point A to point B relative to an objective.
For example, a product line’s free cash flow might change from $1.25USD million to $3.5USD million over a six month period. In this case, the Product Line Free Cash Flow Velocity is $4.5 USD Million per year.
There are two important insights about product line velocity that all managers should understand. First, there can be many measures. And second, the measures must reflect the whole product line, not just one product or a few products.
Speed Kills, Velocity Advances
The reason there are many measures is because every product line system pushes toward three objectives (directions). And teams may measure each direction using different metrics and over many time frames. The three directions reflect the three core objectives of every product line:
- Improving Cash Flow,
- Increasing Customer Satisfaction, and
- Beating Competition.
Traditional single product thinking is that speed-to-market for any given product is all that matters. And this thinking has made a major contribution to how we focused on innovation and product development. But in today’s business environment, speed-to-market for one product is not enough. We also must make sure our work and our decisions contribute to a strategy and drive notable gains.
Improve Product Line Velocity
To improve your line’s velocity, you must clearly spell out the product line’s strategy and objectives. Plus, you’ll need to see how the product line’s system parts and forces interact. The key is to boost the system parts and remove hindrances and roadblocks to the flow. And that is also why Responsive Roadmapping is so important to product line management.
It’s also correct to think of velocity times mass (the size of the product line in sales or units sold) as product line momentum. Plus, a change in velocity (direction or speed) can be thought of as acceleration. And when you multiply mass time acceleration, you’re calculating a product line system force.
When you make a product line pivot, you’re also changing the product line velocity (speed and direction.) And this change, much like Coriolis acceleration that causes you to slide in your seat as a car turns a corner, creates a notable force that pushes on an organization. Failing to respond to this can cause internal and external challenges for a line.
Want to learn more?
Check out the links in this article, plus the resources below.
I welcome your comments and feedback.
You may reach me at:
paul.oconnor @ adept-plm.com
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