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What You Can’t Afford Not to Ask about New Product Introduction

Posted by Peter McGuire on Dec 12, 2014 1:06:00 PM

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Pragmatic Prep for New Product Development Process  

Your idea can innovate sweeping change across your industry’s landscape, or maybe it will dramatically affect the lives of third-world farmers trying to feed their community. You might be answering the call of a valued customer who is trying to keep up with market demands and has new requirements. But this next great thing can’t do anything for anyone until you bring it to market. New product introduction (NPI) can feel as complicated as the first schematic you drew of your engineering marvel that will change the world. But how do you successfully launch a new product into the market? 

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Step by Step

Step by step, as it turns out. Having a new product introduction development process in place is vital. Just like the process you undertook while forging your brilliant idea in the first place. The players will change as the scope of your project moves out of concept and into design, manufacturing, and ultimately, distribution. And each step will be integrally linked to its predecessor and is as critical as the next. Projections like cost-effective production and assembly can’t even be considered if product concept is not vetted at the onset or later, validated during testing. For the purposes of this blog, let’s imagine the NPI of a fantastic, innovative electronic device and discuss what you need to consider in your strategies to introduce it to market.  

6 Crucial Steps—New Product Introduction Checklist

There are vital areas that must be addressed during any new product development process. This is a broad brush stroke of variables, but this list comprises the 6 crucial steps in a new product development process.  

  • 1. Concept Launch & Scope
  • 2. Business & Marketing Analysis
  • 3. Development & Manufacturing
  • 4. Benchmarks & Testing
  • 5. Launch—Go Live
  • 6. Marketing Initiative

1. Concept Launch & Scope

This phase encompasses many “givens”—day-to-day info that you may take for granted, but needs to be identified and accounted for as you begin your new product development process. Other variables here require you to do your homework—the kind of preparation you would already have completed before approaching a contract manufacturer like Fourstar.

Identification and Feasibility Variables:

  • Know who your core team is
  • Define your chain of command for this project
  • Establish proof of concept
    • Complete exhaustive research: you and competitors
    • Gauge outlook for rapid prototyping and iterations
    • Prepare for field service or ongoing customer support
    • Set pricing strategy: fixed or variable?
    • Be aware of changing markets and prepare for perpetuity
  • Create a template for best practices and milestone timelines
  • Assign Project Manager to drive the project
  • Plan resources: identify outsourcing, collaborative, low-cost opportunities

2. Business & Marketing Analysis

There is some pragmatic prep involved in this next step. Beyond the obvious, “Will this work?” business development queries, there are other practical areas to address.  

  • Concept
    • Is your design schematic on paper, or still in your head? Need help drafting it? Is it time to outsource?
  • Prototype
    • Can you make the prototype in-house? Do you prefer or need to outsource?
  • Procurement
    • Are the resources and manufacturing materials available in-house? Are you introducing new materials or resources into your supply chain?

3. Development & Manufacturing

Once you get to this phase, you may have realized that you want a solutions provider like Fourstar to collaborate with you to bring your new product to market. An outsourcing partner like Fourstar will help ensure that your new product development process remains on schedule and to specifications. Some considerations of the development and manufacturing step of the new product development process are:

  • Know all of your critical processes and material/tooling requirements
  • Assess internal expertise and leverage it against your need to outsource for specialty disciplines
  • Assign a dedicated liaison as the OEM interface if you outsource
  • Analyze your capacity to meet all regulatory compliances—especially new ones if entering a new market
  • Ensure your design meets Design for Manufacturing (DFM) requirements

4. Benchmarks & Testing

The Project Manager will work closely with Quality Assurance during this phase. There are two main channels that will be closely monitored during this step:

  • Evaluate progress, efficiencies, milestones: manage meetings and open communication
  • Get process testing and validation results from Quality Assurance personnel
    • Has testing vetted that your product is a viable solution for end-users? Tests should cover:
      • Untestable designs
      • Function failure
      • Inferior material
      • Product reliability
      • Hyper Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) 

5. Launch—Go Live

You’ve done it. Product in hand, all requirements met. There’s just one, two-step question to answer in this phase:

  • Can you deliver … and keep delivering?

6. Marketing Initiative

Let’s assume this will be a smashing success. Are you ready for it? Do you have a plan in place for when this launch does succeed?

  • Identify your marketing channels and the ROI for each
  • Define the salient marketing message(s)—be user-driven with solutions it provides your customer
  • Do you market in-house or do you rely on an agency, or both? Be sure they are aligned in strategy and vision
  • Educate the consumer if this is a new innovation or novelty product or market
  • Ensure your brand message is clear and aligned with your existing brand promise
  • Know your product’s lifecycle and design your campaign in appropriate stages

Some of these considerations are probably second nature to you. Some you may feel removed from, but each consideration on this new production introduction checklist is integral to creating a comprehensive and successful new product introduction. A good idea is only as great as a well-executed launch. Being fully prepared is step one.

For further discussion on the anatomy and process of a successful NPI, download the “6 Steps to NPI Success” eBook now.

Get Your NPI eBook Now

 

Topics: manufacturing outsourcing

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