New Products Process

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New Products Process Summary

A New Products Process provides an approach, which is commonly understood and accepted by the whole organization for successfully developing new products or making improvements to existing products. Structured and consistent processes adopted across an organization contribute significantly to product development success. Research shows that the success rate of a company’s new products is highly dependent on the quality of product development practices and processes adopted by them.

Product development is a risk vs reward process. The application of disciplined processes and practices is designed to reduce the level of uncertainty and improve the likelihood of product success.

Costs associated with new product development generally increase dramatically throughout the product development process – especially during final design, prototyping and scale-up to commercialization. It is vitally important to put significant effort into the early stages of product development (often referred to as the “fuzzy front end”) to ensure that an informed decision is made about the project’s likelihood of success. Many modern approaches advocate deep empathy with customers and customer needs at this stage, prototyping and testing ideas with customers before investing in full-blown product development.

There is a range of new product development models. Each has its strengths and is generally more applicable at certain stages of the full product development process. The Stage-Gate® provides an idea to launch process while most other models focus on specific stages throughout this overall process.

Stage-Gate®, Integrated Product Development (IPD), Waterfall, Agile, Lean, and Design Thinking all have merits in application to specific organization and product situations. It is important to fully understand the principles of each model and apply the most appropriate model to the specific organizational context. This often requires a blend of two or more models.

All process models have the following principles in common:

  • A focus on strategic alignment
  • Knowledge-based decision making to reduce risk of product failure
  • An emphasis on stakeholder input to design decisions
  • The use of cross-functional teams
  • A structured framework, understood and applied across the organization

Processes add discipline and constraints into product development and provides and emphasis on transparency and quality decision making. Care needs to be taking to avoid the process being perceived or becoming over-bureaucratic or too rigid.

Organizations that are truly successful in product development understand the fundamental principles of new product success. They learn from others and are constantly striving for continuous improvement.

Fundamental to the successful implementation of product development is clarity of definition around the intent of the innovation strategy and of specific product development projects. This clarity of definition is provided in what is called the Product Innovation Charter (PIC).

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