New Product Development Steps & How to Address NPD Challenges

What Is New Product Development (NPD)?

New product development spans the early stages of the product lifecycle and requires an understanding of market needs, competitive offerings, and the overall market. It leads to, and overlaps with new product introduction (NPI) processes that take the product through commercialization. A good

What Is New Product Development (NPD)?

New product development spans the early stages of the product lifecycle and requires an understanding of market needs, competitive offerings, and the overall market. It leads to, and overlaps with new product introduction (NPI) processes that take the product through commercialization. A good NPD process requires a systematic approach for product, people, and processes. Having a well-defined product development process speeds product launches and eliminates costly errors as you produce and deliver products to customers.

Key New Product Development Steps

Depending on the model you subscribe to and the granularity of each phase, there may five or more phases. For our discussion, we’ve broken the NPD process into these five phases:
  1. Concept. Sets the basic direction and boundaries for the entire development process by clarifying the type of product, the problem the product addresses, and the financial and technical goals to be achieved.
  2. Ideation. During the ideation step, the team brainstorms to discover some of the many ways a product can solve the problem and meet internal goals. Ideas are evaluated and the most promising are selected for further investigation.
  3. Design. It’s in this step that the execution of the best way to create and construct the product happens. Engineering details are generated to flesh out the high-level concepts from the ideation stage.
  4. Test. Product testing helps determine whether there are issues with the product’s design or how it is manufactured. Thorough testing will prevent costly production issues during volume production and commercial launch, so it’s critical to avoid shortcuts for the sake of releasing new products quickly.
  5. Release. During the prototyping and testing phase, teams outside of engineering will get involved as overlapping new product introduction (NPI) processes drive towards full commercialization.

Continual Iteration Drives Continual Improvement

NPD processes require collaboration between design and production teams to ensure products. Designing for manufacturability (DFM) is key to design products that can be easily manufactured and a the best cost. Done right, it assures quality and productivity. It requires a cyclical process where new information and insights are constantly applied to continually improve the product design. As issues are discovered and opportunities to improve the design or reduce costs arise, product teams will repeat the same steps until the product design achieves the intended results. To compete in today’s global market, product companies must be able to iterate quickly and “turn on a dime” to incorporate design and manufacturing feedback through the development process. Incorporating team feedback to source environmentally compliant and low-cost components reduces supply chain and quality risks. In an effort to get products release fast, some companies ignore or bypass form-fit-function (FFF) rules for the sake of hitting product release goals. With a single system to manage the entire product record, associated quality processes, documents, and specification–distributed, global teams can stay on the same page at all times to ensure quality products are delivered on time and under budget.

Eliminating Silos Is Critical

Product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions help define, control, and release products, which is even more critical with distributed teams and supply chains. Keeping track of all the changes and specific revisions to the BOM and associated drawings, documentation, and specifications is extremely difficult if your company is relying on disconnected or manual processes comprised of Microsoft Word, Excel, CAD design systems, and email. Trying to collaborate with multiple teams with disconnected silos of information increases the chance that players and teams will iterate on the wrong design during NPD and into the NPI stage.

Better Control and Visibility

Once all the iteration, design, and testing has been completed, operations and supply chain teams get more involved to prepare for launching the product to market. Lessons learned during prototype and limited manufacturing stages help optimize sourcing, planning, and ramping to full production. To ensure smooth transitions from new product development to new product introduction, it is essential to leverage a single, controlled system of record for all impacted teams from engineering to operations to supply chain partners. PLM provides a single source of truth with real-time visibility to those involved in bringing products to market.

Best Practices for NPI and NPD Success

Smart companies know that well disciplined new product introduction (NPI) processes are critical to success. Yet, even these companies can suffer from NPI failure when important projects, policies, and guidelines are haphazardly managed as clumsy manual processes. For a guide to the best practices and solutions that will make your NPI processes smoother, efficient and more cost effective, download this white paper, “Best Practices for NPI and NPD Success”

Three Keys to Improved Control:

  1. Set Up the Right Level of Access. You don’t want everyone to see everything. Engineering teams should have access to the entire revision history so they can collaborate, iterate, and improve designs while reviewing both the past and current product definition. Manufacturing teams should only have access to the latest design to avoid building earlier product designs by accident. Supplier and contract manufacturers should not be able to see their competitors’ information or cost details within the complete multi-level BOM that defines all off-the-shelf components and assemblies. Cloud PLM systems provide the flexible and powerful role-based privileges to ensure each player and team only gets access to information key to their role in the development and production process.
  2. Track Change History. Having an automated system that tracks changes, revisions, and history of review and release processes ensures that all key groups involved in bringing the product to market have a way to analyze possible issues later and determine how and why the product design or manufacturing process was altered. PLM systems are designed to track and control the product design and development process throughout the entire product lifecycle.
  3. Streamline Controlled Collaboration. Be sure to give access to everyone involved in development and commercialization as they need it. Eliminate manual tracking processes and reliance on email to avoid having conversations around the product that are not linked directly to the product or part of the assembly being discussed. PLM systems allow teams to share controlled comments, change orders (ECOs), quality issue resolution, and project tasks in context to the product design at all times. This ensures that all teams will have better visibility and an increased understanding of any changes that occur during product development and realization.

Arena Streamlines New Product Development

Arena provides a unified cloud-based system to aggregate your entire product record designed by mechanical, electrical, and software design teams. It provides control and a full audit trail of the design changes as you iterate on product designs throughout the NPD process and move into NPI. More importantly, it provides the necessary flexibility and speeds time to market (TTM) with automated change, project, and quality processes. We have over 1,300 customers worldwide that rely on Arena’s product realization platform to streamline product development processes. If you need to bring complex products to market with distributed teams, Arena provides the best way to ensure your high-quality products ship on time. The new product development process is all about creating and defining the next new product. It involves lots of change at all levels of the BOM and NPD steps are often reiterated. By managing changes with basic processes or even a revision control system in place you’ll stop wasting time on tasks like looking for the right documents. You’ll also keep everyone aware of what’s changed and by whom. A centralized system can provide everyone access to the right product information regardless of where they are working— at office headquarters, home office or manufacturing sites. As a result, you get a smoother transition from the final stage in NPD to manufacturing NPI.

Best Practices