Pearson's Successmaker: Putting the Customer First in Transforming Product Development Processes
(8 pages of text)
Pearson Plc is an education company that operates worldwide, with headquarters in London, England. Its six primary business units are North American Education, International Education, Professional, The Financial Times, Interactive Data, and Penguin Publishing. The vice president of product management within the Digital Learning division of the North American Education unit based in Chandler, Arizona, begins to transform the product development processes to better meet the needs of his customers in the education market, specifically in transitioning from using an off-shored Waterfall software development model to an on-shore Agile model.
When the vice president first joined Pearson a year earlier, the Digital Learning unit had spent significant resources developing a major upgrade for one of its educational software products. The first version of this new product was challenged by the disconnect between what the software development group was delivering and what the vice president’s customers desired. He is now faced with a decision to continue focusing on the specific methodology the group had implemented (Scrum) or move to a new one (Kanban). Additionally, he has to consider expanding his focus to help drive Agile methodologies both with other groups in his business unit and outside his business unit. These decisions must be made at a potentially critical time for his products as his organization deals with the growing pains associated with the shift to Agile.
This case is relevant to classes in marketing, management, and information technology, as it examines the interrelationship between technical product development processes and a firm’s market performance. Instructors can tailor the discussion to focus more on the technical aspects of different product development processes or the marketing aspects of how firms can be more effective as they work to meet customer needs. In an information systems class, this case can be used to discuss innovative approaches to designing and managing collaborative and iterative business processes. The case can serve as an example of an approach to apply Lean manufacturing principles in collaborative work contexts. The case can also be used in courses related to IT project management to discuss alternatives to traditional project management techniques in software development projects. In a business-to-business marketing or new product development class, this case can be used when discussing the management of innovation and the new product development process. Discussion in this context can focus on the characteristics of successful product innovation in technology markets and how development methodologies can drive a firm’s product performance. The specific teaching objectives of this case are:
- Describe the interrelationship between product or software development methodologies and market performance.
- Compare and contrast Waterfall and Agile development methodologies as approaches to optimizing a firm’s product value proposition.
- Illustrate the process of managing and evaluating changes in new product or software development methodologies.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
United States, Large, 2011
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