Every entrepreneur knows that productivity is one of the key ingredients for successful product development. One of the two key processes in Robert’s Rules of Innovation is the NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS. A formalized, NPD process – also referred to and best practice: the Stage Gate® Process – is a must, from simple to sophisticated.
The New Product Development process is often referred to as The Stage-Gate innovation process, developed by Dr. Robert G. Cooper as a result of comprehensive research on reasons why products succeed and why they fail.
When teams collaborate in developing new innovations, having the following eight ingredients mixed into your team’s new product developmental repertoire will ensure that it’s overall marketability will happen relatively quick, and accurately – making everyone productive across the board.
Step 1: Generating
Utilizing basic internal and external SWOT analyses, as well as current marketing trends, one can distance themselves from the competition by generating ideologies which take affordability, ROI, and widespread distribution costs into account.
Lean, mean and scalable are the key points to keep in mind. During the NPD process, keep the system nimble and use flexible discretion over which activities are executed. You may want to develop multiple versions of your road map scaled to suit different types and risk levels of projects.
Step 2: Screening The Idea
Wichita, possessing more aviation industry than most other states, is seeing many new innovations stop with Step 2 – screening. Do you go/no go? Set specific criteria for ideas that should be continued or dropped. Stick to the agreed upon criteria so poor projects can be sent back to the idea-hopper early on.
Because product development costs are being cut in areas like Wichita, “prescreening product ideas,” means taking your Top 3 competitors’ new innovations into account, how much market share they’re chomping up, what benefits end consumers could expect etc. An interesting industry fact: Aviation industrialists will often compare growth with metals markets; therefore, when Boeing is idle, never assume that all airplanes are grounded, per se.
Step 3: Testing The Concept
As Gaurav Akrani has said, “Concept testing is done after idea screening.” And it is important to note, it is different from test marketing.
Aside from patent research, design due diligence, and other legalities involved with new product development; knowing where the marketing messages will work best is often the biggest part of testing the concept. Does the consumer understand, need, or want the product or service?
Step 4: Business Analytics
During the New Product Development process, build a system of metrics to monitor progress. Include input metrics, such as average time in each stage, as well as output metrics that measure the value of launched products, percentage of new product sales and other figures that provide valuable feedback. It is important for an organization to be in agreement for these criteria and metrics.
Even if an idea doesn’t turn into product, keep it in the hopper because it can prove to be a valuable asset for future products and a basis for learning and growth.
Step 5: Beta / Marketability Tests
Arranging private tests groups, launching beta versions, and then forming test panels after the product or products have been tested will provide you with valuable information allowing last minute improvements and tweaks. Not to mention helping to generate a small amount of buzz. WordPress is becoming synonymous with beta testing, and it’s effective; Thousands of programmers contribute code, millions test it, and finally even more download the completed end-product.
Step 6: Technicalities + Product Development
Provided the technical aspects can be perfected without alterations to post-beta products, heading towards a smooth step 7 is imminent. According to Akrani, in this step, “The production department will make plans to produce the product. The marketing department will make plans to distribute the product. The finance department will provide the finance for introducing the new product”.
As an example; In manufacturing, the process before sending technical specs to machinery involves printing MSDS sheets, a requirement for retaining an ISO 9001 certification (the organizational structure, procedures, processes and resources needed to implement quality management.)
In internet jargon, honing the technicalities after beta testing involves final database preparations, estimation of server resources, and planning automated logistics. Be sure to have your technicalities in line when moving forward.
Step 7: Commercialize
At this stage, your new product developments have gone mainstream, consumers are purchasing your good or service, and technical support is consistently monitoring progress. Keeping your distribution pipelines loaded with products is an integral part of this process too, as one prefers not to give physical (or perpetual) shelf space to competition. Refreshing advertisements during this stage will keep your product’s name firmly supplanted into the minds of those in the contemplation stages of purchase.
Step 8: Post Launch Review and Perfect Pricing
Review the NPD process efficiency and look for continues improvements. Most new products are introduced with introductory pricing, in which final prices are nailed down after consumers have ‘gotten in’. In this final stage, you’ll gauge overall value relevant to COGS (cost of goods sold), making sure internal costs aren’t overshadowing new product profits. You continuously differentiate consumer needs as your products age, forecast profits and improve delivery process whether physical, or digital, products are being perpetuated.
Remember: The Process Is Loose
The entire new product development process is an ever evolving testing platform where errors will be made, designs will get trashed, and loss could be recorded. Having your entire team working in tight synchronicity will ensure the successful launch of goods or services, even if reinventing your own wheel. Productivity during product development can be achieved if, and only if, goals are clearly defined along the way and each process has contingencies clearly outlined on paper.
For more tips and guidelines on developing the right implementation strategy, see Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival.
For more information, and another version of the 8-step process, go to http://kalyan-city.blogspot.com/2012/02/stages-process-steps-of-new-product.html
Stage-Gate® is a registered TM of Stage gate International, Inc.
image credit: agbeat.com
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Robert Brands is the founder of InnovationCoach.com, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival,” with Martin Kleinman – published Spring 2010 by Wiley (www.robertsrulesofinnovation.com).