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Explaining the New Product Introduction (NPI), and why it’s essential for your organization

When organizations bring new products to market , it can be a time and resource-heavy task. Because of this, robust strategies and a product development process must be put in place to ensure that getting a product to market is as smooth as possible. To do this, a new product introduction process (NPI) must be in place, which gives an actionable framework to streamline your product’s time to market. 

This article aims to explain a new product introduction process and effectively action it within your organization. 

What is a new product introduction? 

A new product introduction (or NPI) is the initial phase of which most products are ideated, researched, developed, and then launched. Each stage is broken down into subsections sequentially worked through within this process. These stages are: 

  1. Product idea and concept
  2. Market research
  3. Design and development of product
  4. Pre-production and prototyping
  5. Manufacturing
  6. Product launch
  7. Mass production
  8. Innovation and improvement post-launch

 For a product to succeed in the market, resources must be given to each stage to ensure a strong foundation is built around the product’s conception using your internal team’s knowledge and skillsets. As well as this, For an NPI process to succeed, it must have the full active support of upper management in all divisions and departments. An effective NPI program involves a large amount of cross-functional communication and teamwork.

 The new product introduction process

 As mentioned above, eight stages must be followed for a product to be launched smoothly. 

 Stage one: Product Idea and conception

In the first stage of the NPI process, your team members will work together to brainstorm potential product ideas depending on gaps within your services or the market as a whole. 

 Within this stage, the team which is spearheading this project will create a presentation that outlines:

  • Background Information
  • Primary Objectives
  • Project Scope
  • Key Deliverables and Dates
  • Project Budget
  • Identify Stakeholders and Sponsor
  • Identify Project Manager and Define the Team

 

A discussion will be made with senior leadership to discuss the project’s feasibility. If approved, it will then move onto the next stage of researching the market. 

Stage two: Market research

Once the product concept has been approved, it is time to begin conducting market research. This involves understanding who would be interested in the product, finding the total addressable market (T, AM), and further breaking that into segments or ideal client profiles that break down targeted demographics based on age, interests, etc. 

This phase is critical as it will help define the product’s design. 

 Stage three: Design and product development

Once sufficient research is completed, design and product development can begin. This involves working closely with the design team and engineers to build out the product’s features and characteristics. This stage will incur several run-throughs of different designs and versions to allow an understanding of the potential risk of effects and evaluate the robustness of the method and if it can meet the customizations of the, whichined in the market research phase.  

Some example deliverables which are commonly required for this phase is: 

  • Models of design go through the dimensions and characteristics of the product. 
  • Technical drawings 
  • Details of materials needed for the production of goods. 
  • Safety and regulation reports 

During this phase, once a final draft has been created and approved by the project lead, the product can move into being physically created. 

Stage four: pre-production and prototyping

An MVP (Minimum viable product) is created during this phase, which checks if the designs are up to standard when made into a psychical product. This prototype is then tested under the requirements set out via governing bodies and the organization itself. As well as this, market tests are used to give feedback on the usability of the products to allow for sufficient data. 

In tandem with prototyping, pre-production is also introduced, in which inspections and tests and implemented. This includes chemical testing on raw materials to ensure they comply with regulations. This inspection is also conducted of manufacturing to confirm the supplier is working in a safe and compliant manner. 

If inspections are acceptable and data shows that the product is ready for more mainstream manufacturing, it moves into the next stage. 

Stage five: Manufacturing

If the product is ready for market, it’s time to manufacture your product of the product begins. During this stage, factories start making the product to the specifications in the design phase. During this phase, it is important that continued monitoring and audits are conducted so continued best practices may be used and there are no manufacturing faults within the production line. 

It is essential to understand what regulations are in place for the product to ensure it becomes a north star of the production and is upheld. 

Stage six: Product Launch

As we enter the product launch phase, to ensure scalability and smooth operation, it is critical to continue to conduct due diligence across the supply chain for your product so that all of the components and parts required for the production of your product do not encounter delays for example, in the electronics industry, especially with chip shortages, some features can have lead times of up to 32 weeks. With this in mind, accurate forecasting is essential to meet demand. 

An iterative testing cycle is also crucial to anticipate any challenges when your product is launched. Building sufficient time into your launch to retro market reception and implement design changes is prudent before the mass production phase. Quality assurance is vital at prototyping and throughout the product launch.

Manufacturing a limited number of pre-production samples does not surface all of the issues you may encounter once mass production is launched.

One of the Production Part Approval Processes (a prevalent auto industry) is forcing the manufacturing line to “run at the rate” for a specified time. It is one of the only ways to uncover the issues that can affect mass production and resolve them without causing delays to your shipments in the Mass Production phase.

Stage seven: Mass production

Once you enter full run-rate in mass production, some elements can improve production speed and quality, including the line arrangement and specific employee training.

Suppose the product is measurably different from what the factory usually produces. In that case, the factory workers may require additional training to reduce defects, and so this is something to flag and plan for early in the process. 

Line arrangement is the review of the production lines in the factory – and an evaluation of how these are set up for optimal production. If elements of your product differ from the usual products manufactured in the factory, then looking at the existing processes objectively can yield additional optimizations to increase production speed, safety, and quality.

 With these considerations in mind, a robust production monitoring process is vital for success in this critical phase of NPI. This is where the most significant delays can be introduced to production schedules if not monitored and resolved immediately. 

Issues can arise when the buyer lacks quality control over the supplier’s production process. The problems found in the final inspection are difficult and costly to fix and control. This can also be the case where you don’t have insight into the workforce working on the lines, which can contribute to delays, especially in peak seasons, including, but not limited to, quality assurance staff and supervision of produced products. 

This is why the third-party organization is often necessary when inspecting the manufacturing process to ensure efficiency, quality, and adherence to agreed time scales and run rates. 

HQTS can utilize expertise in-house to predict the possible design and process risks before problems occur that impact your delivery schedules and take measures to effectively solve numerous design, production, and manufacturing issues that cannot be solved after inspection.

This can save a significant budget and avoid costly large-scale reworking of operations and shipping delays. 

Stage eight: innovation and improvement post-launch

At this stage, the product has been launched. However, this is not the end. Organizations must continually monitor the feedback given on the product to allow for innovation and continued optimization.

Efficiencies uncovered through the continuous monitoring of the end-to-end process can be iteratively implemented to enhance outcomes further. 

Product feedback will inevitably require improvements. Monitoring across the process will help decide what stages of the manufacturing processes can be adjusted to implement these with minimal impact and optimal outcomes. 

The data gathered across each part of the process begins to pay dividends post-launch. It allows forecasting, modeling, and data-led adjustments to manufacturing and cost savings and supply chain management.

Why is an NPI process necessary?

The NPI process has a range of benefits when launching and introducing your product into the market. Without a streamlined and robust process throughout the entire supply chain process, products may miss the mark within the market, causing a loss in both organizational reputation and resources. This is why introducing an NPI framework allows your organization to have a repeatable ecosystem to create, test, and optimize new products effectively—allowing for the continued scalability of your business into the future. 

HQTS has over 25 years of experience industry-leading quality control, With a range of inspection and testing services to assist you through your new production process china. Providing rigorous testing and inspections from highly trained professionals to ensure shipments are safe and up-to-date with the latest regulations. To learn more about this, contact us today. 

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