New Product Development (also known as NPD) is a vital aspect of project management, helping to forge the way for new innovations, and ultimately, increased sales. Whether your company is seeking to expand operations, introduce new items to your product offering or move forward with ideas for the growth of the business, this approach ensures that planning is done right from the moment of idea conception.
Just like anything else however, getting the best results from your strategy comes down to having a good process in place that can keep development on track without any delays or unplanned problems.
Streamlined New Product Development (NPD)
What should you be keeping top of mind when it comes to New Product Development strategies, and how can you put a simple yet powerful process in place to keep things organised? The following 8 step plan offers a recommended solution for stage-by-stage development:
- Step 1: Generation
A basic SWAT analysis on an internal and external level, marketing trends and competitor research are all part of idea generation. The aim here is to keep things lean and scalable rather than aiming for something overly complicated and involved. Ideas should focus on cost-effectiveness, ROI to the company, distribution and other costs and any other admin or resources that may be required to get things off the ground. Your system should be simple, with multiple versions of your project plan scaled to fit the various types and risk levels of each project.
- Step 2: Screening
This step can cause many projects to fail before they even get off the ground – especially when development costs are cut. Pre-screening ideas offers a way to determine whether or not ideas should be continued or stopped, with criteria that helps evaluate potential projects early. Looking at benefits to consumer, extended competitor research on innovations making them corner the market and overall feasibility is essential.
- Step 3: Concept Testing
After ideas are screened, they need to be tested. This differs from beta and test marketing however – essentially, this step looks at patent research, design possibilities and the many other legalities of NPD. Does the consumer truly need, want or understand the product, and if not, are there any ways to make the idea more consumer-friendly?
- Step 4: Metrics and Analysis
The next step in the New Product Development process is to build a metrics system to track progress. Project management software can be extremely useful in this step, as it allows you to include input and output metrics and various other data, with an easy to use central dashboard that can be used by project leaders. The value of launched products, percentage of new product sales and all other useful information should all be considered. Even ideas that don’t convert to products can still be kept for later, while being a good basis for learning too.
- Step 5: Beta Testing
Once proper testing begins, test groups, beta versions and panels need to be organised once in-house testing has been done. These will all provide valuable information that shows whether any improvements are required, whether any problems in quality arise and also how consumers react to the product or service.
- Step 6: Technical Development
Using the metrics you have tracked as well as information garnered through testing, this step is all about implementation and preparation. Production departments will begin to gear into motion, marketing departments will start preparing for distribution and finance departments will start planning financial backing. Many things need to be tracked during this step, including potential ISO certification, processes and other resources that may be needed to implement the final product or service.
- Step 7: Commercialisation
Once the product or service has launched, consumers will be able to purchase and support will need to monitor progress. Distribution lines need to be updated and stocked, advertising needs to be on track and monitoring needs to continue on an ongoing basis in case there is any need for recall, improvement or fixing.
- Step 8: Review and Pricing
The final stage focuses on review of past and present metrics, price perfection and continual improvement strategies. As most prices launch with a lower price, final prices need to be determined once consumers have been introduced to the product. Consumer needs will also need to be monitored on an ongoing basis as the product ages to ensure that the product stays relevant and popular with consumers.
With the help of a reliable, easy to implement project management software solution, New Product Development can be as stress-free and efficient as possible – regardless of the product scope.