Left to their own devices new product development processes will always deliver the product on time or, in most cases, late. When I was younger I used to be confused by this. With time I think I have figured out a couple of causes and a couple of fixes for this all common issue.
There are a few common causes
Once a date has been given for project delivery, the engineers will relax till they they think it is time to work and then they will start working. So normal busy activities, filling expense reports, learning about the new techniques will fill up any safety slack time in the project.
Any new product development process has to evaluate alternatives to find the optimal fit for the new product. This is an open ended process. You can do this process indefinitely trying to improve your product. Usually this process also continues till time runs out, and then the best alternative found so far is used.
Many organizations try to cut cost by loading up their engineers 100%, some even more that :-) . This is a recipe for disaster. There is a lot of uncertainty in any new product development, things go wrong, vendors don't deliver on time, an expected design does not work out.
Let us examine what happens if your engineers are loaded 100%. If something on your new product development process is delayed (say a vendor is late), the engineer drops it and starts working on something else which is urgent too. Now when the vendor finally makes his delivery, your engineer is already working on something else. It is inefficient for him to drop that and restart work on your project. So work on the new product goes to the back of his queue. This happens over and over again not only to our engineer but with all workers in such "efficient" organizations.
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