The launch of a new product is a time of anticipation and excitement for both companies and consumers. Often, people are so enamoured with the latest release from a company that they forget the incredible amount of time and effort that went into getting it in front of them.
Getting a new product on the market is a process that requires organised teamwork and efficiency. The process from concept to distribution has many steps, but completing these as quickly as possible to the highest standard is essential to stay on top in a competitive market.
Because so many different teams are involved in a new product introduction procedure, having a unified procedure is essential to be able to deliver on these deadlines, not just once, but for all future product launches. Here’s what’s involved in the NPI procedure:
Assemble a specialist team
The first step of any new product introduction procedure involves assembling a specialist team to manage their areas of the project from start to finish. When launching a new product, some of the team may be made up of new hires but, often, experienced employees are brought on from their departments to implement their established strategies as part of the new launch.
The right team is made from those who are eager to see the successful implementation of the new product, as well as the increased interest in the company it will generate. Each new product introduction procedure is the chance to establish or re-establish the company within the market, and the right team will see the opportunity for what it is and be excited to take it on.
Design for manufacture
Designing for manufacture is key when it comes to the new product introduction process. Whilst there are usually no limits or a ‘no wrong answers’ policy when it comes to initial ideas and concepts for new products to allow creativity to flow, designing for manufacture means addressing the feasibility of the product, namely – is it easy to manufacture? Overreaching at this early stage could be setting up for a fall if feasibility isn’t addressed.
If this concept isn’t adhered to, the likelihood is that, at either the component sourcing stage or the design and testing stage, the limitations will be exposed. If this happens, the process will have to come back to this stage to allow redesigns, wasting money and valuable time.
Sourcing of parts and components
Sourcing all the parts and components for the product needs to be carried out with an eye on the long-term. There is no point in sourcing components from a company that don’t have the capacity to keep up with the projected demand, even if their prices are good. Similarly, trying to get as many components as possible from the fewest number of suppliers will ensure the supply chain runs more smoothly.
With many new product introductions, entirely new components may have to be sourced that you are less experienced with. Taking the time to find not just the cheapest, but also the most effective parts, will save time and money later on.
Design and testing
Once everything has been sourced, the testing phase of the new product introduction process can take place. Also known as the ‘validate’ stage, testing is essential for any new product, even if it is an improved version of a product that is already established. This is also the last chance to make any design changes before full-scale manufacturing and distribution.
At this stage, it isn’t just the product that is being tested and assessed, but also the method of production. This will see that all stages of the manufacturing process are as efficient as possible and identify where changes can be made.
Once the product and manufacturing process has been tested and any necessary adjustments have been made, the product can be manufactured at full-scale, ready for distribution. The full-scale manufacturing is completed to a strict timeline so that the projected demand for the product can be met on time.
Depending on the product, full-scale manufacturing can be a huge process in its own right, but if both product and manufacturing methods have been thoroughly validated, then this stage is usually straightforward, if time-consuming.
The final step in the new product introduction procedure is distribution. Product launches may take place in stores, at expos or trade shows, to name a few, but this stage is the culmination of everyone’s hard work, resulting in the consumer experiencing the product for the first time.
These initial reactions provide essential data to be collected, to see if expectations have been met and pain points addressed. It also offers the opportunity for reviewing the lessons learned from the new product introduction process as a whole and how it can be improved for future product launches.