Project Life Cycle
Generally, issues and projects which work best for consortia are those which can be described as “pre-competitive”. That is, they are not product specific issues or issues relating to a company’s core competency. Rather, pre-competitive issues relate to things that are experienced by a number of different companies, or affect the industry as a whole. Most companies would have no trouble putting all the resources necessary to solve a problem affecting their primary product or to improve their capabilities to outperform the competition; but if it is an issue that is experienced by many different companies, or the industry as a whole, it is much easier to hang back and hope the other guys solve it.
It was the recognition that many problems we face on a day to day basis impact several different companies, often require many diverse resources to solve, and the solution does not give one company an advantage over all the others, which led to the original formation of cooperative organizations and consortia. Companies learned that by working together they could pool resources, solve problems at a fraction of the individual company cost of doing it alone, and thereby move their company and the industry forward for the benefit of all. Furthermore they could continue to compete effectively by focusing most of their internal resources on specific product issues.
So how do we recognize a “pre-competitive” issue? First and foremost, it must be of interest to several different companies, and those companies must be interested enough in a solution to be willing to contribute some resources to its resolution. There must also be an individual at one of those companies who is passionate enough about the problem that they are willing to lead a team to resolve the issue. Resolution of a problem often is as much about the passion of the investigators as it is about their knowledge and skill. And generally, the solution should not involve the creation or manufacture of one company’s specific product.
The question then becomes “how do you select pre-competitive projects and insure their success?” There is no magic or sure answer to this question, it takes a lot of knowledge, hard work, and even a little luck; but the process you use to select and execute the projects is an important part of giving you the best chance for success. The HDP User Group employs a three step process, as described below, to determine support for an idea, subject it to peer review to evaluate the technical viability and worthiness, and provide the best chance for success.
All new projects begin as an idea or issue that someone suggests might be appropriate for the HDP User Group to explore. That someone might be an individual from a Member Company, a Staff Member, or even someone who is not associated with the organization. A brief description of the idea or issue, together with a possible approach to resolve the issue is presented to the Membership for discussion. If two or more members are interested, and the consensus of the organization is that the idea fits within the charter of the organization, the idea moves into the second, or Definition Stage. Currently the HDP User Group has a list of over 50 ideas, topics, and issues that are under discussion. To see more information on some of the ideas presently being considered, go to the Current Projects Page.
Once it is determined that an idea has the support of at least two members, a project team is formed and a call for participation is sent to all HDP Members and interested parties. At this point, the project is open to everyone, even if they are not with a member company. That way, we have the project reviewed by the most knowledgeable people in the industry. This "peer review" helps us insure that the project is technically sound, meaningful, and has a good chance of success.
The project team has the task of preparing the Project Plan, including: the project description or statement of work, the project execution plan and schedule, deliverables, resources needed, and who will provide those resources. A Team Leader is appointed from the participating companies, and an HDP User Group Staff Project Facilitator is named. The final plan is then submitted to the HDP User Group Board of Directors for approval.
To see a brief description of projects in the Definition Stage, go to the Current Projects Page.
Once the Board of Directors approves the Project Plan for implementation, the project moves into the Implementation Stage. At this point, the project is open only to companies that are members of the HDP User Group and special invited guests. Non-member companies that participated in the Definition Stage must either join or drop out of the project.
The Project is managed by the Project Leader who organizes the team from member companies working on the project, gets resources, and makes reports to the board and the membership. He is assisted in this by the HDP User Group Staff Facilitator, who provides whatever services and support is necessary to keep the project on task and on schedule. The actual work of the projects, as detailed in the Project Plan, is done by volunteers and assignees from the participating companies, using their companies' facilities and resources.
Periodic conference calls and occasional meetings are used to keep everyone in the project coordinated. Any issues or problems are brought up at these calls and addressed by the Project Team and the Staff Facilitator. Minutes of the calls are sent to all project members. Update presentations are given at all quarterly Member Meetings. This provides an opportunity to inform the general membership of progress, and recruit additional resources if required. All presentations, documents, and minutes of the Member Meetings are posted on the HDP User Group web site Members Section.
When the project completes the planned activities, the final report or other promised deliverables are presented to the Board of Directors for final approval. The Board determines if the deliverables are complete, as promised by the Project Plan, and meet the high technical standards of the HDP User Group. The Board also determines how the information will be handled outside of the organization, based on the recommendations of the Project Team. They decide whether the information will be kept for Members only and for what period of time, sold to the public as an HDP User Group Technical Report, or released free to the public.
At this point, the project formally ends, and the participants move on to join other new or existing projects.
To see a list of projects in the Implementation Stage, go to the Current Projects Page