Sure, it’s a bit of a weird headline! Actually, I wanted to put – “Establishing standardized work processes, routines and tools that are suitable for the development of both coffee cans and lunar rockets…” as a heading, but it did not fit in the header. so it got to be a slimmed down variant. But in short, they are what is needed within a consulting company like Avalon Innovation for us to be able to run and execute projects that will ultimately be successful both for the customer and for us within Avalon. Of course, a lot of other things also need to be met, but the headline puts the finger on a very important ingredient.

Our goal with our project deliveries is that the customer should always feel that they have received according to their expectations, but also that they have received that little extra that makes them feel – “Wow … those people are good!”.

How do we succeed then? Well, the key (as we see it) is to make sure that both the customer’s and our expectations, throughout the project, are consistent. If you succeed with that, it will usually be a very successful project.

But this is the most difficult thing. We are all human beings and we express ourselves and interpret each other in different ways. You have probably experienced meetings where everyone present seems to completely agree and then afterwards when everyone has left, they all have different pictures of what they have agreed on. The simple expectations to meet are those that are documented in some way and the most difficult are those that remain unspoken, and unfortunately there are often plenty of these.

Project Management Office

Within our Project Management Office at Avalon, our task is to ensure that our employees have the best possible conditions to meet the customer’s expectations as quickly and efficiently as possible, thereby increasing the probability of delivering successful projects.

You can somewhat express it as if we are the wax on the ski, the grease on the ball in the bearing or the silicone spray on your rubber gasket. It kind of moves forward a little easier when we get to help

How do we do this then? Well, our contribution to success is, among other things, to work out and establish standardized processes, templates, routines and tools as far as possible and appropriate.

And this is where I get into coffee cans and lunar rockets… Avalon has consciously chosen not to put all eggs in one and the same basket, i.e. we have chosen not to specialize in a specific industry or product category. We have customers who work with everything from yes, just … coffee cans to lunar rockets … sort of!

And then you might be thinking, – “Is it really possible to make exact super-detailed processes, and meticulously automated templates and specially adapted tools for such widely different industries and companies?”

Answer is no …. but since product development is basically based on the same process (we call ours AIMTM) regardless of whether you develop coffee cans or lunar rockets, you can definitely find that thin line where we through our standardization work establish a base and a generic foundation that helps us at least 70% along the way.

And this is where the really big challenge lies. If we overwork what we do, the result will be super good for a very small part of our projects and completely useless for most of our projects. If we underperform, the data becomes far too generic for the majority of our projects, which means that they do not ease the work at all.

But what do we do then? Well, we always make an assessment of the purpose, needs and benefits and try to identify the optimal middle ground. Sometimes we fail, but then we learn, we adjust and we do better. We use our experiences. In our PMO group, we have an average of 25-30 years of experience in product development and together we have worked with well over 500 different customers, companies, industries and product categories and therefore seen many different variants of product development processes.

As they say, it is only when you come to a certain kind of level of knowledge that you realise how much more there is to learn.

About the author:

Jesper Sjögren, Project Operations Manager at Avalon Innovation