HBR case

While MS gained the biggest share in SO market, it could not achieve the same dominance in PC applications. The organization of Office Business Unit (BOB) in MS had departments that were functionally independent. M’s initial software development was at a large part decided by technicians who are enthusiastic in programming but less focused on user experience. In mid asses, they formally introduced program management into he development of new products.

The project/tech lead, program manager, product manager, online/print-based lead and localization lead worked together in a cohesive endeavor for the office product. Although MS boasted its’ small company style which had small teams work together, the problem between product managers and developers was they didn’t cooperate very closely. Lack of communication and mutual understanding, they both acted in their own ways. Since M’s culture was ‘people know what they are doing and will try to do the right thing, they didn’t make enough effort to fix it.

The development of Word for Windows was behind schedule when it first started. The requirements included too many features regarding the interface and integration with other applications, e. G. Database, spreadsheet, data protection etc. And frequent changes of management, e. G. The absence of technical lead had prolonged the development process. Besides, pressure on the schedule made it even more difficult for engineers to assure quality of the product. Although facing these difficulties, the program finally completed successfully.

The market condition was also favorable to the Windrow since the product had fewer bug than expected and its’ competitor’s products were still under development. Ideas for improving product development in process, management and develop strategies came up based on the postmortem of BOB office development. It is now a consensus that more structured process, especially an early specification, and clear phases for design and implementation would help MS stick to the schedule. Some managers at MS contend that lack of control and focus in management was the major weak-point.

I cannot totally agree with that, because if we need the teams to stay small and agile, there are definitely tradeoffs in management control. Last but not the least, it is also said that development strategy has been unsatisfactory for Word development. The share of code between products of different platform was difficult in the initial phases of development, but I don’t think we should blame too much on OBI-G’S development strategy since they were already aware of the problem. If they decided to deal with this problem, the release of Word would be even later, and it would probably brought them into unfavorable market conditions.

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