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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
Okay, so all the lunchroom conversation is out of the way—let’s get down to the elements needed to execute this plan.
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.
This requires that the core team be identified. You will need
cross-functional input from many departments, including:
Establishing proof of concept—get definitive answers to these question (worth repeating—they’re that important):
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:
Assigning Project Manager to drive the project, including:
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.
The project manager will work closely with Quality Assurance during this phase.
Evaluate progress, efficiencies, and milestones
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?
You’ve done it. Product in hand, all requirements in place. There are two questions to answer in this phase:
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.
Contact us to find out how we can help you with your next project.