See below for four solution approaches that can help overcome organizational silos and gain cross-functional commitment:
- Clearly Define Purpose and Scope
Before doing anything else, define your purpose. Contextualize the goal by describing the problem you are working to solve and the reasons for digitalizing product definition operations. Once the purpose is defined, scope project phases. Project scope can include the boundaries of business processes that may change, transformation goals, future-state requirements, key performance indicators (KPIs), deliverables, budget, timeframe, etc.
From a project management standpoint, defining the purpose and scoping are important because they frame the project intent in a way that is visible and unambiguous for all parties involved. Documenting purpose and scope and obtaining alignment early on are necessary precursors to creating a project roadmap and strategic plan for making MBD a reality.
- Form a Dedicated Cross-Functional Implementation Team
To facilitate cross-functional commitment, determine who is needed to make the MBD initiative happen. This will likely include both subject matter experts and leaders from the major organizational pillars that create or consume 2D drawings in the current state. Once the MBD focal points from the enterprise verticals have been identified, pull them together to form a lead implementation team.
Because MBD implementation is an enterprise-wide change, obtaining representation from multiple departments such as engineering, manufacturing, quality, procurement, supply chain, and information technology is crucial. Increased communication across teams breaks down departmental silos that can stymie implementation. As a bonus, a cross-functional lead implementation team will also give the initiative more credibility and quickly build traction throughout the workforce.
Even a small lead team can begin to act on technical tasks, like spearheading pilot projects that will provide real-time information and insights to solidify the value of MBD implementation efforts.
- Obtain Internal Agreement on a Multi-Year Enterprise Roadmap
A transformative step is to shift the MBD initiative from a grass-roots campaign to a top-down executive-backed strategy, thus making MBD the new status quo. This will require cross-functional commitment to an implementation roadmap that could span from five to fifteen years.
Gaining initial executive alignment is one challenge, but another is sustaining support during executive turnover, which could be every three to four years on average. To avoid restating your case every time the leadership team changes, there are a couple of things to consider:
How to gain buy-in before executive members move out of roles?
To gain executive buy-in, you need to put a strategic plan together that includes all project phases and their projected timetable. If you include an extensive strategic planning period, it is important to clarify how that connects to subsequent phases like readying for deployment and deploying at scale. If the link is unclear, you may get stuck in a cycle of restating your case with different executive members when you are ready to move on from planning to early deployment. Ensuring the strategic planning phase demonstrates valuable and tangible “off-ramp” is also critical. This is covered in more depth with solution approach #4.
How to sustain a multi-year endeavor with frequent leadership changes?
Your multi-year roadmap must show up on each executive member’s to-do list. To support visibility, there needs to be a KPI that is tailored for each executive to have accountability. If each executive isn’t responsible for a quantified performance metric, the MBD initiative may get lost in the shuffle.
- Use Agile Methodologies
Agile frameworks can be beneficial when working to implement MBD across an organization. A typical Agile methodology is designed to accommodate frequent change in project requirements, facilitate excellent communication and collaboration across teams, and ensure delivery of incremental product value.
Each Agile methodology has its own nuances and specifications, but most are structured to improve communication by requiring frequent check-ins between teammates as they work towards the delivery of value. This can be extremely beneficial, especially when working to gain commitment from others who report to different managers and/or sit in different departments across an organization.