To Agile or Not to Agile: That is the Question for Manufacturers (Part 3 of 3)

Posted by Maziar Adl on 2/17/22 6:00 AM
Maziar Adl
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The impact on your org and how to be successful

To catch up with this series, please see here for Part 1: product planning for durable goods; and here for Part 2: getting started in our new integrated world.  

It’s not an “on/off” toggle. Key impacts to consider.

agile-or-not_part3The “switch to Agile'' is nothing like actually flipping a switch. Whether parts or the entire organization make the change, the ripple radiates out. Hiring looks different. Operations look different. Success is measured differently.

If you make a decision to transition to Agile methods, what does that look like?

Impact on team–Culture will need to change. Mindset will need to change across the organization: Engineering, Project Management, Finance, Marketing, and certainly the Executive team will need to embark on the journey; they have to buy in.

The Executive team’s support is absolutely critical. Think about value creation and re-education. Think about the move from a matrix to a value-stream organization. Existing team members may or may not have the right skill set for the next chapter, so an evaluation will have to take place.

Pro tip:  Start your team off with an “easy win” project following Agile methods. The first foray into this new world should not be complicated, as there’s a heavy training component. It can also only work if you start out with the right team–one that wants to be there and embraces the new possibilities.


The team will gain experience in Agile techniques and see how they work or whether they work. The team can then apply learnings to more complex projects and increase scope moving forward.


Impact on process

Build in a mechanism that’s able to manage changes; your traditional stage-gate goes out the window. Agile techniques are starting to mature, awarding more options. Learn the principles, then adapt the process to suit your company’s needs.

Keep in mind that the sequencing of your steps may change; new steps may be added while old steps may become obsolete. Tasks will change depending on what needs to be done. It’s truly a new way of operating, where you’re no longer completely locked into the process; the steps are much more fluid.


Pro tip: The best way to transition the process is to bring a specialized coach onboard. 


Impact on tools

Digital transformation becomes more essential. Collaboration tools, such as Jira, Asana, Gocious bring transparency and increase the communication speed. The way teams work together is different and their tasks may also be different.

Therefore, the way teams communicate and accomplish tasks also has to change. Processes are more fluid. The pace of what needs to be done accelerates. The toolbox used to support all the team and process changes will need to also become more flexible and accommodating, to avoid misalignments and slowdowns.

In the new environment, you need tools that align and speed up the team. Read, now would definitely be the time to abandon your Excel spreadsheets.


Pro tip: Here’s what physical goods manufacturers should expect from their road-mapping and product planning tool.


  1. It should align your team with a single source of truth.
    Having the right tool will remove some of the complexity from product planning by organizing the entire company around a single data set.
  2. It would support your move to Agile/SAFe
    You’d gain the ability to track roadmaps across all your product lines in real-time. Not just a single product or product line; all your product lines. With this, you would get a holistic view of every buildable combination.
  3. It will help you make objective decisions
    Weighted scoring that uses an algorithm to guide the feature combinations that best meet your product strategy and goals would remove bias from product definition.
  4. Competitive analysis would be built-in
    This tool would allow you to analyze your planned product details against the companies you’re watching in a central, flexible environment.
  5. Collaboration would be easy
    You should be able to work across your entire organization with no friction and track their contributions in that same environment.
  6. Integration would be easy
    You would be able to connect your existing systems into this central tool or import data from legacy spreadsheets in an automated way, without high-touch human involvement.

What Agile is NOT

We’re going to conclude this 3-part series with what Agile DOESN’T mean; it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to think ahead. There still needs to be a plan. You still need a roadmap. You still need to assign responsibilities, consider resources, and collaborate.

However, barring the immutable constraints that exist because we’re dealing with a physical product, we can stand to learn a lot from software product planning.

Want to learn more? Click to schedule a demo and see how you can leverage Gocious on your journey towards a more flexible and agile organization.

Topics: product portfolio management, product management

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