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Putting It Together: How to Succeed in Distributed Product Development

The increase in outsourcing and offshoring of complex work has resulted in innovation efforts that require coordination across cultural, geographic and legal boundaries. If that coordination is mishandled, companies can find themselves needing to make multimillion- or even billion-dollar changes. The authors show how problems often arise along the boundaries between organizations and activities with the likelihood of trouble increasing with the complexity of the work being done. Then they provide guidance on how to define boundaries. Specifically: What activities to combine/separate; what should be in-sourced or outsourced; and what to onshore or offshore. Once boundaries have been established, the authors explain how they can be spanned by rules, technology and people. Even so, the complexity of the task makes midcourse corrections likely. Managers must anticipate and adapt their processes in order to reduce risk and, ultimately, cost.

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