Pella Corporation

Adding Metrics for Process Compliance and Staff Helps Pella Deliver on Time to Market


  • Deliver more new products in less time.
  • Increase efficiency of engineers.
  • Discover problems earlier, rather than later.
  • Create urgency around process consistency and hitting schedule targets.
  • Predict schedule compliance and process consistency using process metrics.


  • Institutionalized project management process with project teams using risk management to more effectively manage risks.
  • Dispersed robust engineering processes beyond individual experts to broader engineering staff.
  • Maintained balanced product road map.
  • Ranked 21st on Fortune magazine's list of "100 Best Companies to Work For"


  • Assessment
  • Benchmarking
  • Change Management
  • Metrics
  • Product Development Process
  • Project Management

Though Pella Corporation had a solid structure for initiating product development improvements, the company still faced a number of daunting challenges. Within the engineering function, efforts were duplicated, key project contributors were multi-tasking, priorities were changing ad hoc, projects were delayed, and key resources were being spent on putting out fires. Further aggravating the situation, development projects were divided among multiple teams that had limited access to information, resulting in too many problems being unearthed late in development. Underlying these issues was a shortage of engineering staff combined with a growing number of projects.

PDC approached the challenge by conducting an assessment, developing recommendations based on that assessment, and following a staged implementation of improvement initiatives. Working with the Pella management team, PDC developed a plan to enable the company to better apply the fundamentals of resource allocation, project management, robust design, and portfolio management across functions and projects. The stage was set for a successful improvement effort, with the implementation approach focused on obtaining buy-in throughout the organization.

One of the keys to success was the use of a staged implementation process. Vice President of Engineering John Mitchell notes, "Staging the implementation is the right way to do it. If we had done all five [initiatives at once], we would have tried to do too much and failed. Focus makes a difference. Get the results before you move on."

Cross-functional teams reviewed their work with the organization at pre-planned points. "The approach fostered a continuation of improvement efforts at Pella even after PDC had gone." According to Mitchell, "Metrics for process compliance and for training have played major roles in helping to build new behaviors into the organization...The impact goes beyond a particular project."