The Dude has been around a long time, and has seen just about every bad behavior. This will be the start of a series of “Did they really say that?”. Today’s candidate is Engineering.
About 2 year ago, a product we had was struggling do to the lack of a major capability. Marketing had always pointed out that this capability was missing, as it locked us out of about 80% of the TAM.
A program was undertaken to add this to the project as quickly as possible. Since it was to be a “rush” project, we didn’t use the program as an opportunity to reduce the costs, making a conscious decision that time to market was more important.
Today, 2 years and 4 months after the “start” of this 3 month program, we are still struggling. Granted, the architecture and base design of our system made this feature a challenge, but somehow a 3 month development program turned into 27 months, multiple missed milestones, an acquisition of a technology partner (ostensibly to “speed” time to market), and we are still not done yet.
In the timeline, we had defined a 3 month “beta test”, and had negotiated with two ideal partners who were excited to get access to the technology early. They were originally scheduled to receive their bets instruments in March 2014.
March of course came and went.
Then the date was June. Definitely, absolutely, positively June.
Of course June 30 came and went.
The next date was August. The 15th to be precise. Engineering, and production both swore up and down that that would be the date.
What happened? You guessed it, August 15th came and went. Marketing stopped making promises to the beta partners. Fortunately, both were understanding beyond belief, but you get to a point where your credibility is shot to hell.
We have had definite, positively can’t slip deadlines of September, November, end of the calendar year, and other dates, all agreed to, and all missed.
We are at a point where we have customer orders that we have shipped, or need to ship (sold without demo or even seeing the system in action), and the beta systems have become first commercial shipments, and first revenue systems.
The last beta system will ship this coming Friday (Feb 27th) to Asia to be our demo instrument, and we are planning on squeezing the local beta test to an afternoon this coming week of inviting the beta partner in. Essentially, the plan for 90 days of beta testing and feedback, possibly reworking any gross issues found, and hammering on the software before launch is gone, and we are going to just ship it.
The Stupid thing
In the weekly meeting, when we were discussing the elimination of the beta test, the R&D manager had the audacity (the balls) to say: “Beta testing is really just a luxury”
Sigh, this product manager knows that to skip beta testing is the equivalent of banana product launch. Releasing an unready product and letting it ripen in the field. And nobody is happy with that.
I wrote this and scheduled it a couple of weeks ago. All was on track, but alas, that was not to be. Tuesday evening, in the last phases of testing, some anomalous behaviors were observed. Upon a safe shutdown, a quick inspection showed a high voltage power supply was burned to a crisp.Oops, I guess we aren’t going be shipping on Friday after all.