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NPI: A Short Guide to Designing, Developing, and Launching Products Using PLM and QMS

Designing, developing, and launching a product is exciting. It’s also very challenging. The prospects and opportunities for your product to be successful can be limitless—it’s up to you how you strategize your product, sales, and marketing teams.

In this short guide, we’ll explore the new product introduction (NPI) process and how you can use it to successfully bring your products to market.

We will also delve into the vital role product lifecycle management (PLM) and quality management system (QMS) solutions play to ensure the product development process moves along smoothly and efficiently.

Understanding the difference between NPI and NPD processes

Even though both new product introduction (NPI) and new product development (NPD) processes are geared toward bringing new products to market, they each focus on a distinct phase of the new product development and introduction (NPDI) process. Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between the two.

The development team often takes on NPD, which is the actual creation of the product to satisfy a market need—from pre-production to manufacturing. By following a well-planned set of procedures and milestones, companies can avoid some of the common pitfalls that lead to the failure of NPD, which include:

  • Overestimate of market size
  • Customer requirement misinterpretation
  • Bad product launch timing
  • Flawed product design
  • Incorrect pricing (too high)
  • Poor advertising and marketing
  • High product development cost due to overrun and resource overuse
  • Competition risks and threats

Developing a well-crafted NPD strategy is crucial for companies to streamline their product planning, gain an in-depth understanding of their customers, plan effectively, and utilize their resources efficiently for NPD. Such a strategy can also prevent potential risks and enhance the probability of product success.

The NPI process is a structured approach to product development that encompasses all the necessary steps from conceptualization to a working prototype to market launch and commercialization. It’s called NPI instead of NPD because NPI is focused on the product from the manufacturing perspective. Usually, manufacturing processes are concerned with the ongoing production of existing processes whereas NPI introduces new products in the manufacturing process.

When it comes time to manufacture the product, efficient NPI processes make it less likely you’ll have to re-engineer the product—the manufacturer was already looped in from the beginning and informed your team on how to create a product that would be easy to manufacture on a small or large scale.

Meeting Business Objectives

It’s normal during the NPI process for a product to go through multiple changes. The first version is never the final one. Your product will encounter multiple revisions, parts will constantly change—as we’ve learned throughout time, the only constant is change.

As you begin your NPI journey, four goals should set precedence when launching a new product.

They include:

  1. More cost-effective development
  2. Faster time to market
  3. Higher customization requirements
  4. A product that can be made repeatable in production

Following the NPI process can streamline your product development journey, minimize risks, and improve overall project success.

New Product Introduction in 6 Repeatable Steps:

1. Ideation: Presentexplore – collaborate

Icon-Product-DevelopmentEvery successful product starts with a great idea. During this phase, you brainstorm, conduct market research, and gather valuable insights to define your product’s purpose, features, and target audience. This is the time to identify any potential challenges or opportunities that may arise during the development and launch stages.

2. Product Definition: Understand your market size—have a refined product concept.

Icon-Product-DevelopmentOnce you have a clear concept in mind, it’s time to bring your product to life through design and development. This phase involves creating detailed product specifications, engineering prototypes, and conducting thorough testing to ensure the product meets the desired quality standards and/or compliance. Collaboration between designers, engineers, and other stakeholders is vital to refine the product design and address any issues that may arise. Will your product be sustainable? What’s your policy toward rights-to-repair? These types of questions are explored and answered during this step.

3. Prototyping: Proof of design.

Icon-Product-DevelopmentThe prototype marks the pivotal transition from an abstract idea into a physical, tangible object to be held, studied, and analyzed. The triumph of a prototype is the first milestone of the end product. It also serves as the basis for further iterations.

4. Detailed Design: Create a detailed design.

Icon-Product-DevelopmentIn this step, the focus is on the product design process. It starts with refining the prototype. At this point, the prototype should be full-featured and work as the real product would. In many cases, teams will alpha-test the prototype by iteratively working with the customer to get their feedback and incorporate it into the prototype—design changes can be very expensive, so this is a critical step in the NPI process.

At this step of the NPI process, a bill of materials (BOM) is generated. The design team can become quite large based on the volume of work required. In this phase, the organization will also scale up manufacturing services to ensure that the design is high quality (so yields will be high).

Procurement will also be heavily involved at this step. In parallel, marketing, sales, and manufacturing begin to create the launch and manufacturing platforms to support the emerging product. They may begin implementing early-stage marketing tests.

5. Pre-Production: Ensuring the prototype works as planned–validate the manufacturing process.

Icon-Product-DevelopmentAs the product design gets finalized, the focus shifts to manufacturing and production. Choosing the right manufacturing partners, establishing supply chains, and implementing efficient production processes are key factors to consider.

6. Manufacturing: Manufacturing begins. Salable products are shipped.

Icon-Product-DevelopmentDuring this step, teams understand everything required to bring the final product to market or product launch, including marketing and sales plans. The team begins to operationalize the manufacture and customer support for the product. Even in the manufacturing stage, the production process is continually optimized, and the product lifecycle is managed (including the end of product life at some points).

Embrace a digital transformation for optimal NPI

One thing is for sure, you don’t want to manage your engineering information and data using antiquated processes, especially as you’re about to bring a new, innovative product to life. Embracing digital transformation and adopting cloud technologies is an improvement to your business model. Some of the key benefits include increased customer satisfaction, a higher-quality user experience, and improved collaboration and communication—most importantly, it enables future digital growth. Digital transformation is a cost-effective way of executing NPI for organizations to shorten product lifecycles, reduce supply chain volatility, and assess future risk, and inventory risk.

With the challenges and complexities of NPI, the manufacturing industry must constantly meet increasing demands for faster delivery and heightened production. Cloud technology can help manufacturers meet these needs. The Cloud not only allows your business to simplify operations but also helps to increase your business agility.

A controlled cloud framework can help you:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Scale faster
  • Reduce operational costs
  • Better track production data and material usage
  • Optimize supply chain management from procurement until final product delivery

Overall, the Cloud can be applied to all stages of the NPI process—from ideation to manufacturing.

The Roles of PLM and QMS in NPI

Product lifecycle management (PLM) encompasses the strategic management of a product from its inception to retirement. It involves managing product information, processes, and people throughout the product’s lifecycle. PLM software enables effective collaboration and coordination among cross-functional teams, facilitates product innovation, and optimizes decision-making to drive product success. With PLM, you can effectively manage product specifications, track changes, streamline documentation, and ensure regulatory compliance.

A quality management system (QMS) provides an organization with a set of processes, policies, and procedures designed to ensure consistent quality across all stages of product development and manufacturing. QMS helps organizations meet regulatory requirements, improve efficiency, and enhance customer satisfaction. By implementing a robust QMS solution, you can minimize defects, reduce rework, and deliver products that meet or exceed customer expectations. Quality management plays a critical role in maintaining quality control throughout the manufacturing phase, ensuring that your product meets the highest standards.

Design and development phase: Where PLM and QMS solutions play a crucial role

During the design and development phase, PLM enables cross-functional teams to access and share critical product information, track design changes, and maintain version control. This streamlined communication ensures that everyone is working with the most current information, minimizing errors, and ensuring design accuracy.

PLM software centralizes product information and streamlines design processes to launch quality products faster. Cloud-native PLM supports agile processes enabling you to take your product and system development projects and break them into iterative projects so you can quickly test and learn from them. Incorporating agile methodology into your product development can help you increase customer satisfaction while improving efficiency.

QMS software also ensures that quality standards are maintained throughout the entire process. It establishes protocols for design reviews, risk assessments, and testing procedures. By incorporating QMS practices during the design and development phase, you can identify and resolve potential issues early on, reducing rework and costly delays.

The importance of PLM and QMS together

Product lifecycle management and quality management are integral components of the NPI process. They provide systematic approaches to ensure product quality, compliance, and continuous improvement throughout the entire lifecycle of the product. When it comes to collaboration or having the latest design revision ready to move to the next stage, or ensuring external suppliers and manufacturers are all working from the most current and approved designs, a PLM solution is vital to the NPI process. A quality system is key to embedding quality information, processes, and most importantly, quality control across NPI and operations.

Closed-loop quality within the manufacturing environment

Closed-loop quality management lets you connect product development records or performance information to quality processes in a single system—always with the goal of improving quality. Every manufacturing company has some sort of corrective and preventive action (CAPA) mechanism for nonconformances, in addition to an auditing process to ensure standards for quality and training are being met. Oftentimes, many companies do not effectively capture all the nonconformances identified in manufacturing into a central system. By moving to a single product-centric QMS solution for managing nonconformances, these gaps can be eliminated.

Customer complaint resolution

Depending on the product, connecting your customer feedback directly to your customer relationship management (CRM) platform can help you accelerate the analysis and resolution process to save time and money. More importantly, if your company develops medical devices, your product has a greater effect on patient health—linking your complaint systems to your QMS environment can save lives. Smart companies link their CRM and QMS platforms to streamline and speed up the customer feedback loop.

Arena creates better results with continuous improvement

Designing, developing, and launching a product involves a series of complex processes that require careful planning and execution. By understanding the NPI process and incorporating PLM and QMS practices, you can increase your chances of success and faster time to market.

The NPI process provides a structured framework to guide your product development journey, from idea generation to market launch. PLM can help bring products to market faster and streamlines information management and collaboration throughout the product’s lifecycle—QMS ensures quality control at every stage.

The Arena product development platform provides connected PLM and QMS processes in the Cloud. Remote teams, manufacturing contractors, and supply chain partners can easily collaborate by having access to the latest product and quality information anytime and anywhere they need.

Arena can help you streamline product launch processes, so you reduce costs, speed time to market, and help your organization gain first-mover advantages in the marketplace.

Learn more about how Arena can help you deliver innovative products faster and more efficiently.