Navigating New Product Introduction

New product introduction (NPI) is a process that takes a product concept from its exploratory inception through to prototyping and launch, with the ultimate goal being full-scale production. It is the manufacturing arm of new product development (NPD). The NPI process requires strategic planning, taking the product through vital phases that follow a certain order. Each step—or gate—is managed by a stakeholder (or team) that makes the decision to either move the project along or hold it for further review. This discussion provides guidance on navigating an NPI strategy and the steps you need to take to make it a successful product launch.

New Product Introduction NPI Compass

Guiding You to Your Goal

Let’s start by stating the obvious: without a plan, you can’t get to your goal. But without that goal, there is no plan. So, you have a brilliant innovation, a much-needed market update, or a niche item whose time has come. And you just know “it” will work. But how do you know? For real. And … we’re back to the beginning: your plan—your comprehensive discovery tool to guide you toward and through a successful new product introduction (NPI) launch.

Planning Your Approach

There are so many questions and considerations when contemplating any NPI, that putting segments into “buckets” helps to mitigate the overwhelming sense of where to start, when to go (and grow), and how to get there. Here’s a six-step plan to help organize your NPI efforts. We will discuss these in more details further down on this page, or you can click the link to each step to review each respective step now, if you’d prefer.

6-Phase Approach to NPI

Before we get to the steps, there are other factors that play into paving a smooth path for your NPI initiative.
These considerations (linked to each section for quick review) include:

Navigate Wooden Wheel

Setting a Course

Before we set course and start dropping things into our buckets, we’ll cover some ground on what probably brought you to consider NPI at all. Let’s assume your product idea shows sweeping promise to be viable and successful. The road from here to there requires skilled navigation, as you may find you and your team(s) tasked, among other things, to:
  • Add more personnel, internally and outsourced, into the mix
  • Automate tasks
  • Create new, repeatable manufacturing models
  • Re-route manufacturing bottlenecks and resources
  • Keep reporting and performance consistencies in check
  • Improve, improve, improve (without creating bottlenecks or compromising consistency!)

Where to Begin

Daunting, right? Yes, frankly, any NPI is an impressive endeavor to undertake. And all these moving parts need to be managed to one, perfectly manufactured end. But it’s done successfully by start-ups, small family businesses, and corporate Goliaths. All. The. Time.

And it’s done unsuccessfully, as well. Even by the big guys. Remember Ben-Gay aspirin? Didn’t think so. When’s the last time you hopped on your Smith & Wesson mountain bike for a quick trail ride? Yeah, you heard right. Wasn’t that Cosmopolitan magazine yogurt delicious? Oh, you mean in the 18 months it was on store shelves (and pulled), you never got the chance to try it? From buttermilk in shampoo to spring water in beer bottles, some of the most tried and trusted brands have had new product introductions that epically failed. And you can bet that they had lots of research and money behind their efforts. So, yes, it’s daunting but very, very possible to do—and do well.

Why Products Fail

There are many reasons why products fail, and often there are shades of combinations of reasons that add to the totality of the failure. Among them are:

  • Market needs not correctly assessed—timing poorly executed
  • Obsolescence window that closes way too quickly (tied to above); typical with technologies
  • Product actually ahead of its time; typically with technologies
  • Imbalance in vision and pragmatics: over-engineered; under-resourced
  • Failed pricing strategies
  • Inability to properly communicate the concept to consumers; or requires too much consumer education
  • Companies depend on existing brand promise; new product brand extension conflicts with established brand
  • Misaligned advertising campaigns
Why Products Fail

As you can see, there are factors on the development and manufacturing side of the equation, ones that lie in the hands of the marketers, and some that teeter somewhere in the middle. And they all matter.

I’m a B2B Business; Does this all Matter to Me?

Your end user doesn’t have to be, and probably isn’t, a dog-lover of tween age who knows that bottled water for her dogs with flavors like crispy beef and tangy fish are a no-go flop. (Yup, that was a loser, too.) You likely don’t deal with the end-users of your products. But a successful NPI launch is as crucial to your bottom line as it is to your client’s ability to sell, sell, sell. You’re both in it together, and it only takes one misstep in your design, procurement, or manufacturing process for that failure to reverberate downline.

How to Proceed

Step by step, as it turns out. 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. What do you need to consider in your strategies to introduce your new product to market?

Is it Feasible?

Before you embark on any prototype production, you need to vet the feasibility of your concept. Luck, trends, and fortuitous timing does exist for things like viral videos and novelty niche items (which have a short-lived shelf-life), but getting these answers wrong, miscalculating them, or making assumptions that they are a given will increase the probability of ending up on the flop list. Proof of concept questions you need to ask:

  • Does anyone need it? Have you really done your research?
  • Is there existing competition?
  • Can you design a minimum-viable product for the initial NPI and plan for iterations with rapid prototyping cycles to meet market demands?
  • Will you be able to, or need to, provide field service or ongoing customer support?
  • What is the risk assessment of predicted volume of sales and profits?
  • Is your pricing strategy set at a fixed or variable rate?
  • Does your product possess the perpetuity factor: can it evolve with changing markets?
Proof of Concept


Okay, so all the lunchroom conversation is out of the way—let’s get down to the elements needed to execute this plan.

NPI Plan Phases

These are the 6 phases in this approach. Consider this your checklist for achieving your NPI goals. We discuss the details of each phase below and ask important questions, helping guide you through a comprehensive plan.

1. Concept Launch & Scope

This requires that the core team be identified. You will need
cross-functional input from many departments, including:

  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Procurement
  • Quality
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • C-Suite; Finance
Rocket Box

Establishing proof of concept—get definitive answers to these question (worth repeating—they’re that important):

  • Does anyone need it? Have you really done your research?
  • Is there existing competition?
  • Can you design a minimum-viable product for the initial NPI and plan for iterations with rapid prototyping cycles to meet market demands?
  • Will you be able to, or need to, provide field service or ongoing customer support?
  • What is the risk assessment of predicted volume of sales and profits?
  • Is your pricing strategy set at a fixed or variable rate?
  • Does your product possess the perpetuity factor: can it evolve with changing markets?

Creating a template for best practices and milestone timelines for the project. This process should be adopted company-wide for all NPI projects and may include best practices, such as:

  • Time and budget planning for training after implementation
  • Automated data exchange between systems and departments
  • Is there a web-based project management tool easily accessed across companies, if necessary?
  • Allocation of skilled resources for ongoing support
  • Establish boilerplate (revisable) scope of work and service agreements

Assigning Project Manager to drive the project, including:

  • Administrating project management software
  • Ensuring phase-gate release structure is followed
  • Monitoring key decision points and personnel

Resource planning

  • Identify outsourcing, collaborative, low-cost production opportunities

2. Business & Marketing Analysis

Beyond the obvious, “Will this work?” business development queries, there are other practical areas to address.
  • Make any necessary adjustments to your proof of concept model as you delve deeper into this step: pricing, timing of deliverables, etc.
  • Is your design schematic on paper, or still in your head? Need help drafting it?
    • – It might be time to consider outsourcing
  • Assess your ability to manufacture the prototype in-house
    • – Do you prefer or need to outsource?
  • Examine your resources and manufacturing materials availability
    • – Are you introducing new materials or resources into your supply chain?
Business Marketing Analysis

3. Development, Prototyping & Manufacturing

You will clearly have vetted some of these considerations going into this phase, but management of these variables will be a constant as manufacturing ensues.

  • Know all of your critical processes and material/tooling requirement
  • Assess existing expertise and possible needs to outsource for specialty disciplines
  • Plan for and map out multiple work groups or departments needed to collaborate throughout the process
  • If you outsource, assign a dedicated liaison as the OEM interface
  • Be aware of new or different standards and regulations if entering a new arena or market
  • Analyze your capacity to meet all regulatory compliances
  • As you make changes to any of the above processes, you need to account for and record them
  • Ensure your prototype and project plans meet design for manufacturing (DFM) requirements

4. Benchmarks & Testing

The project manager will work closely with Quality Assurance during this phase.
Evaluate progress, efficiencies, and milestones

  • Schedule meetings for major gate reviews
  • Keep all channels of communication open among all functional areas
  • Re-assign and corral re-design efforts, if necessary

Get process testing and validation results from Quality Assurance personnel
Is your product meeting real-world problems head-on with viable solutions? Any surprises while testing?

  • Untestable designs—ensure that all aspects of the design can be validated
  • Function failure—test for the obvious: does it perform as it should?
  • Inferior material—was this outsourced or in-house?
  • Product reliability—what environmental variables will it thrive or die in?
  • Hyper accelerated life testing (HALT), if applicable

5. Launch—Go Live

You’ve done it. Product in hand, all requirements in place. There are two questions to answer in this phase:

  • Can you deliver … and keep delivering?
  • Is your customer support operational for this new product?
  • By now, you should have established protocols to maintain product lifecycle reviews and continuous improvement and end-of-life contingencies
Light Fuse

6. Marketing Initiative

Let’s assume this will be a smashing success. Are you ready for it?
  • Have a plan in place for when this launch flies
  • Identify your marketing channels and the ROI for each
  • Define the salient marketing message(s)
  • Focus on user-driven factors: the solution it provides the customer, not its features and benefits
  • Do you market in-house or do you rely on an agency, or both? Be sure they are aligned in strategy and vision
  • Make sure this strategy and vision are aligned with consumer need and targeting the right consumer – Do they require any training or education based on innovation or novelty?
  • 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
We’ve all had the experience of spending wasteful time putting out fires when prototyping, getting to market, or spearheading an NPI. You may have adopted many of these processes discussed above, and others are probably second nature to you. Some you may feel removed from, but each consideration is as integral to creating a comprehensive and successful new product introduction. Having a plan in place—and actually following it—will prevent material, function, and milestone failures and product flops. It will also help you get a winning idea from concept to completion and in the hands of customers on time and with integrity.

A good idea is only as great as a well-executed launch. Being fully prepared is step one.


Product launch can be daunting. There are many variables to consider building up to that moment, and each one can have a damaging Domino effect on the next, if not done right. On the other hand, when executed correctly, your product can launch with optimized efficiency, quality, and performance. You have our expertise at your disposal when you partner with us, and we are as invested as you are in seeing it done right.

In business since 1992, Diversified Machining is a contract manufacturing company with over 80 years of collective experience in prototype and production machining, along with expertise in efficient new product development and introduction (NPD/NPI) and design for manufacturability (DFM). The team at Diversified works closely with customers and will design and build fixtures and jigs, and can work from electronic files, prints, verbal instructions, and sketches.

Among the industries served are medical electronics, contract electronics manufacturers, industrial manufacturers, military sub-contract manufacturers, robotic manufacturers, and contractors who need specialized machined parts. We provide low- to mid-volume, assembly, lathe, and manual work. CNC milling machines, CNC turning, and plastics machining are on the equipment roster, allowing us our vast production capabilities. Materials such as aluminum, steel, Delrin® and other phenolic materials, stainless steel, copper, and alloys specific to the applications are used. Collaboration, quality, quick-turn production and delivery, and customer service are cornerstones of Diversified Machining’s approach.

We can help you select the proper materials to ensure they work successfully in your particular environment—and are also readily available and cost effective. We will help you define plating, painting, hardening, and other secondary operations that are critical to your design. Once the design is finalized, we can provide services for generating CAD drawings and bill of materials (BOMs), along with competitive, fixed-price manufacturing based on your estimated annual usage (EAU).

We’re happy to answer any questions you have and welcome the opportunity to partner with you.

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Contact us to find out how we can help you with your next project.