4 Key Steps to Win the New Product Introduction Race
The best way to bring your new products to market in a timely and successful manner include these four best practices that should be embraced in all New Product Introduction Charters.
One of the single most important aspects of a successful product development effort can also be the most demanding. Defining ALL the requirements of the product (features, benefits, appearance, etc.) as well as the market positioning, price, cost, promotional strategy, etc., are essential to success. Product Management and Marketing define what the market needs, wants, and will pay for. Sometimes this occurs from working directly with a customer… often an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) that might want to incorporate such a product into theirs. Regardless of whether the definition is internally driven or externally sourced, nailing down what the product needs to do, look like, and cost is critical. This is typically done through a “product brief” and later a “product specification.” The latter becomes a controlled document through the development phase and is only changed when a pre-defined set of stakeholders agree.
Develop a Project Plan
A good project plan is developed for how the product development will be executed. This specifies what partners / suppliers are needed either for development or production. The amount and type of resources needed to conduct the development are specified and a time-phased sequence of activities with allocated resources and levels is called out. It contains discrete, pre-determined “gates,” or “toll booths” which require all criteria for that checkpoint be met before effort can continue. This assures that one functional area is not out-pacing another, resulting in waiting and lost effectiveness, as well as reducing risk by ensuring work does not have to be repeated when downstream discoveries are made. Verification of resource availability and commitment from their management are required in advance.
Execute the Project
When an acceptable plan is synthesized and approved by the sponsoring management, good Project Management (PM) methodology techniques are used. Regular monitoring of resource availability and application, costs incurred, target costing, progress, and detection of any unforeseen circumstances help provide an early warning system for execution problems. It is also imperative to have cross functional involvement: Marketing / Product Management, Engineering / R&D, Manufacturing / Operations, Supply Chain, Quality and any key suppliers and OEM customers need to be part of the process. Their respective level and timing of involvement will vary and are specified in the project plan.
Understand Project Risk
One of the least utilized yet most critical aspects of product development is risk management and mitigation. Projects fail when risks are not identified and dealt with immediately. Unmanaged risk can lead to project delays, rework, and cost overruns. Having a good risk management process in your PM methodology will minimize this.
In our next New Production Introduction blog, we will look at execution strategies and compare two world class methodologies – Waterfall vs. Agile. We’ll also review the key deliverables that should be considered by any serious product development team.