How to Achieve New Product Introduction (NPI) Success
Did you know that most product launches fail? Some of the best-known companies experience challenges when launching new products. You may recall some major product launch failures over the years such as the Samsung Galaxy phone’s overheating issues, Apple’s iPhone 4 antenna problem, or Tesla’s “unbreakable” glass shattering. These types of incidents can cause brand damage, customer satisfaction problems, and even harm to consumers.
Many leading global product companies in high tech, consumer electronics, and medical devices have had to deal with product failures at one time or another. Whether you work for a large or small company, there are key steps you can take to increase your NPI success rates and avoid similar product launch disasters.
New Product Development: The Foundation for NPI
NPI encompasses many activities that are required to get a new or improved product to market. It overlaps with the new product development (NPD) process and can sometimes be confused with NPD. However, NPI focuses more on getting operations teams and supply chain partners aligned around the final released product design to effectively plan, produce, and ramp to volume production. NPD focuses more on the early development stages from concept through prototyping and testing. Done right, NPD provides the foundation for NPI success.
NPI processes affect internal teams along with external suppliers and contract manufacturers as they drive toward volume production and getting products into their customers’ hands. Arena’s Streamline New Product Introduction article describes how ensuring control, facilitating a connected NPD and NPI process, and enabling real-time collaboration between dispersed teams is essential. Neglecting to meet any one of these three goals will increase the chance of product launch delays or total failure.
Common Barriers to NPI Success
Today’s sophisticated product designs and globally distributed teams make getting high-quality products to market fast more difficult than ever. We see high-tech electronics and medical device companies facing these common barriers:
- Silos of information. Using manual or paper-based processes such as spreadsheets and emails to manage and share information creates disconnected silos. Specialized systems or applications used by engineering, manufacturing, quality, and other product teams can also make it difficult to stay on the same page.
- Prolonged development. Silos result in data scattered in multiple sources. This makes it difficult for all teams to find and review the right information quickly—resulting in unnecessary delays.
- Quality issues. Companies that lack the necessary controls have a difficult time testing and addressing corrective actions as quality issues arise. Further, they struggle to document and show how they are meeting regulatory compliance with ISO, FDA, and other regulatory bodies or standards.
- Dispersed teams and supply chains. Now, more than ever, we know how important it is to be able to communicate with distributed teams. Without providing a single controlled system of truth that provides real-time data and collaboration, costly design and production mistakes are more likely to occur.
- Cost overruns. All of the factors listed above contribute to manufacturing inefficiencies, product development confusion, and often result in excessive scrap and rework—resulting in the higher cost of goods and missed cost targets.
Driving Effective New Product Introduction
Perhaps the most critical barrier to NPI success is dispersed teams and supply chains. You need a way to keep your internal teams and supply chain partners on the same page. Product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions can drive supply chain efficiency by empowering your manufacturing, engineering, and supply chain teams to collaborate effectively and ultimately speed your product launches.
Companies that use PLM systems are more likely to meet their goals and achieve NPI success by:
- Aggregating entire product design. Creating a single, centralized, and controlled system to bring complex product designs (e.g., electrical, mechanical, software, drawings) together into a single source of truth.
- Collaborating in real time. Enabling cross-functional collaboration across contract manufacturing partners, component suppliers, design partners, and in-house teams to communicate in real time, anytime and anywhere.
- Automating approval processes. Providing online approvals that send automated notifications and allows everyone to review AND approve changes and redlines electronically. This eliminates the issues of a request sitting on someone’s desk or in someone’s inbox.
- Increasing visibility and traceability. Protecting your product intellectual property (IP) through secure, role-based access to guarantee users only see what they need to see.
- Reducing latest-revision confusion. Eliminating concerns with product information accuracy by ensuring your teams are always able to view and access the latest revision.
- Ensuring the use of compliant parts. Integrating with content providers like SiliconExpert or Octopart allows you to access their comprehensive online component databases to find and source parts that comply with RoHS, REACH, conflict minerals, and other environmental standards.
Are Your NPI Processes Solid?
Getting new products to market can be challenging and subject to many common pitfalls. Establishing a solid, unified plan for NPI will help you meet cost, quality, and scheduling goals—while eliminating costly mistakes that can lead to small issues or larger product launch failures. Having a great NPD foundation like PLM will ensure your entire team can drive NPI success and boost sales, customer satisfaction, and ultimately revenue growth. So, ask yourself whether your systems have flaws or result in confusion that can lead to delays. If so, we invite you to learn more about best practices for NPI and NPD success.