The primary goal of this course is to validate your product or service, and to practice effective risk management. So, in this course, we will focus on two steps: first, validate and verify system requirements, and, second, manage risks. The title of this course is Ensuring the Success of Product and Service Design.
It is easy to become over-confident at the beginning of any project; over-confidence at the beginning of a project is invariably followed by disillusionment and crisis management later in the project. How can you avoid that trap? How can you temper enthusiasm with sound judgment? You need to find a way to step back from a design and consider it with a critical eye. Is this really what the customer wants? Will this design really work? Is this really something that you can build with the resources at your disposal? Have you thought seriously about what can go wrong with this design? In your enthusiasm to solve design problems, you have likely not paid enough attention to these questions. It is never too late to stop and take a critical view. Look at where you stand on any project that you are engaged in right now. If you have not conducted a critical review of the type you discuss in this course, you should not be surprised by the number of difficulties you face in completing the project.
In this course, you focus on two practical approaches to getting design right: validating the design, and managing risk. By validating the design, you think through how you are going to test the system you are planning to create. The basic question you ask is, “how will you know if the system you construct satisfies the requirements you had for its design?” You will be surprised at how the simple task of planning a test will reveal holes and fuzziness in your thinking, vital things you had not thought about. Unpleasant as it is to discover flaws in your thinking, delaying the discovery only increases the pain and cost. The second approach you consider is managing the risk of the design. For this task, you systematically think through what can go wrong with the design. This is not difficult to do, but it takes time. By identifying what can go wrong, you can then develop a plan to reduce those risks. It is then a matter of working through the plan to reduce the risk of the project as quickly and as early in the life cycle of the project as you can. These two approaches are the best antidotes to overconfidence in design, and the best assurances for design success that you can offer. Commit yourself to these approaches and you will see your project success rate climb. If there is any design aspect to your current job, this course has direct and immediate relevancy. Conducting a design review and attempting to construct a test plan will quickly reveal potentially enormous gaps in your current thinking. You will discover that you do not really understand the requirements of the design as well as you thought you did. You will be forced to go back and fix things. This is not a pleasant experience, but it is vital for your success; you will emerge from the experience a better designer and project manager. Similarly, by taking stock of the current risks of your project by enumerating them and prioritizing them, you discover that you are not helpless in the face of the unknown; there are positive actions you can take to eliminate the risk of failure.