A milestone in briefs

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One of the advantages we have here at agileChilli in developing agile:NPDtech is that it’s built on the agileBase platform, which allows for more rapid development than normal. That allows us to respond to customer requests, our own ideas and market research quickly, creating a rapid feedback loop between the product and its users to improve the system for everybody.

For example, over the past couple of days we’ve made major improvements in two of the most widely uses NPD:tech areas – product development milestones and non conformance chasing.

Today we will highlight the new milestones features, which arose from conversations with many customers as well as internal workshops. If you use milestones in your NPD processes, you’ll be very interested in taking advantage of these features and if not, they may just tempt you to start!

Our core focus has been on making the process of managing large numbers of development products more efficient, so very little time is needed on data entry, allowing automated chasing when deadlines are near whilst letting staff get on with producing innovative new recipes.

Here’s a quick rundown of the new features:

Multiple milestone templates: groups

In the Milestones tile, you can manage a template of milestones to be assigned to each product, each with a default owner. 

As of today, you can now manage multiple templates. When milestones are added to a product, you can choose which template is applied. That means you can assign similar sets of milestones to different products, but with different owners, or you can have completely different sets of milestones. For example, some customers may require additional steps for any products developed for them.

Using groups:

  • In the milestones tile, go to the ‘milestone groups’ view at the top left and add a new group – this is just a name for your set of milestones
  • In the next view, ‘milestone template items’, create the milestones, assigning a group to each
  • In the edit screen for a product, select a Milestone Group in the top part of the screen, then click the ‘milestones’ tab. All the milestones in that group will populate into the product

Adding external milestone users

You can now assign not only users as owners of milestones, but any email address. That means if there’s someone at your company who should be responsible for ensuring a particular milestone is achieved, but they’re not a system user, they will still be chased by the system. It will still gather their notes and let them amend milestone details.

You can even involve your customers or other outsiders, for example to gather feedback.

Milestone owners can be set at the template level but also overridden for an individual product. In either case, when choosing an owner, just select ‘add new entry’ at the bottom of the list of users and type in any email address you like.

Managing milestones at the brief level

This is a big one in terms of time saving. When working on a brief for a customer (or yourselves), you may be working on a dozen or so products, each with their own milestones, however they’ll usually have the same or similar target dates.

Now you can apply milestones to all products in a brief as a group with one click.

Using brief milestones

  • Firstly, add products to the brief. In the recipes tab for the brief, click the Add Brief Product button
  • If developing a new recipe, scroll to the bottom of the list of available products and press Create New Item – give the recipe a name and if necessary edit other details
    • (if developing a variant or adding an existing product, you can press ‘clone brief product’ instead or select a product, in that case any existing milestones will be used)
  • Once all products are there, select a Milestones Group from the top of the screen (see above)
  • Click the Milestones Template tab to populate the brief with that group of milestones
  • For each milestone in the generated template, select a target date
  • Press the ‘Clone Milestone Template To Recipes’ button – voila, all products will instantly inherit the brief milestones with target dates

It’s a lot simpler in pictures – here’s a screenshot showing those options:

We look forward to feedback about these new milestones facilities and we’ve also got a lot of other ideas in the works. Please let us know your thoughts!