“At its heart, engineering is about using science to find creative, practical solutions. It is a noble profession.”
Queen Elizabeth II
When companies initiate a production correction or a product recall, they can potentially lose millions of dollars. Many production corrections and product recalls could likely be avoided if a full, cross-functional team was in place at the start of the product development process that included engineers. This type of engineering management can provide valuable insight that helps to improve and accelerate the design process.
“In a commercial environment, products have to shine in comparison to the competition. Technical challenges have to be surmounted, architectures innovated, capabilities maximized, and aggressive performance goals set to ensure outputs from the process are not accidental loss leaders” (Simpson, J. 2016). Companies can do this successfully when they involve engineers in product design. When engineers are not directly involved, chances of an unsuccessful launch rise, and when that happens, the product and company’s failure can make headlines.
Unsuccessful Product Launches
Even for some of the biggest companies in the world, product launches are challenging. Just because a product seems promising in the research, development, and design stages, does not mean it will be successful in the marketplace. Some of the reasons for unsuccessful product launches are:
Weak team collaboration
Absence of an engineer’s point of view
Faulty or incomplete market research
Poor execution of launch strategy
Poor timing for the launch strategy
Lack of consumer education about how to use the product
The product does not work properly at the launch phase
The Amazon Fire Phone, Fitbit Force Wristband, Google Glass, and Nike FuelBand are a few recent products that had difficult launches. Whether it was because engineers did not have a seat at the design table, companies couldn’t distinguish their products from competitors well enough, or the market was not viable, failed project launches put companies and their employees at risk.
Engineers and Product Launches Go Together
Increasingly, engineers must broaden their areas of expertise to include market research, and the ability to coordinate with multifunctional launch teams. When engineers are involved in development, from prototype through manufacturing production stages, they are in an excellent position to ensure effective launches while detecting potential problems.
Effective engineers involved with successful product launches are able to integrate their technical expertise with best practices in design and engineering, provide a holistic view of the product’s market and launch strategy, and bring a thorough understanding of their company’s various business units and financial resources.
An example of a company that believes in the value of this sort of integration is Spotify. Spotify is a music, podcast, and video streaming service available for Windows, Macs, iPhone and Android smartphones. As of June 2017, Spotify had more than 140 million users with over 60 million paying subscribers (Plaugic, 2017). Spotify’s success does not come without the support and expertise of a variety of skilled engineers. The agile engineering and collaboration culture at Spotify supports engineers by including them in small, cross-functional, self-organizing teams consisting of usually less than eight people. The teams sit together and have end-to-end responsibility for what they build. Each team is responsible for design, deployment, maintenance, and operations (Frederik, 2015).
Using cross-functional teams is one of the reasons that Spotify continually excels when they launch various applications such as Spotify.me, which provides users with data analytics such as their most listened to artists, the times of day they are most likely listening to music, and other features based on their profile.
Studying Engineering Management at Kettering University Online
Today’s successful engineer must be flexible, adaptable and have effective interpersonal communication skills that facilitate their ability to work well in teams. One way to learn these skills is to enroll in Kettering University Online’s Master of Science in Engineering Management program.
Kettering University’s motto is “Learn today, use tomorrow.” Through courses in international business, marketing, financial management, enterprise information system models, and managing people and organizations, you have the opportunity to study real-world problems and learn how to provide practical and tangible solutions. Students gain a clearer understanding of the connection between technical engineering and the business knowledge needed to advance their career and progress into senior management. Successful graduates of this program are able to:
Solve complex issues relating to best practices in both domestic and international business affairs
Determine the theoretical valuation of stocks and bonds and the capital markets in which they are traded
Understand and contribute to the strategic role of information systems and the process-oriented view of the organization and its relationships with suppliers, customers, and competitors in order to meet their organization’s goals
Use enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, customer relationship management, product lifecycle management, and social networks
In addition to honing conceptual skills such as critical thinking, analytical thinking, and problem-solving, the coursework covers how to utilize technical, financial, and human resources. Graduates of Kettering University Online’s Master of Science in Engineering Management program have a holistic view of the launch process as well as the ability to contribute to the goals of their organization in ways that are both sustainable and impactful to the clients they serve and the population at large.
Frederik (2015, January 25). Technology unplugged: Agile engineering and collaboration culture at Spotify [Video file]. Retrieved from value-first.be/agile/agile-engineering-and-collaboration-culture-at-spotify/
Plaugic, L. (2017, July 31). Spotify has more than 60 million subscribers now. Retrieved from theverge.com/2017/7/31/16070982/spotify-60-million-subscribers-july-2017
Simpson, J. (2016, April 12). Critical steps in getting products to market. Retrieved from newelectronics.co.uk/electronics-technology/critical-steps-in-getting-products-to-market/117713/
The Engineer (2015). 15 Engineering quotes that we all should live by. Retrieved from wonderfulengineering.com/15-engineering-quotes-that-we-all-should-live-by/