By M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant
How is your total new product development process performing for your company? There are a number of elements to consider before answering this question. Elements of the analysis should likely include: Market Intelligence sufficiently equipped to provide well-documented and well-thought-out analyses of potential new products and markets; Development capabilities sufficient to actually develop the new products specified by the market intelligence at the appropriate level of costs, including marketing, selling and distribution costs; production capabilities appropriate to make the products developed; marketing and sales abilities to promote and sell the products; distribution/logistics with the capacities to stock and deliver the products as needed.
First: How well does your market intelligence report on the real needs and preferences of your customers, current and/or targeted? Effective market intelligence is a necessary element to an effective product development process. By properly analyzing your customers’ wants and requirements, what your competition is offering and what your company is capable of delivering, market intelligence should help your company focus its product development process on those projects which show the best possibilities for success in the future. Financial analyses which include the costs of development, manufacturing costs, logistics and distribution costs, selling and marketing costs should be detailed, along with an assessment of appropriate pricing should be completed early in the process with a goal of pursuing those projects with the highest likelihood of success as well as another goal of eliminating those projects which probably won’t reach your profit and sales volume goals.
Second: Does your new product development (NPD) group possess the tools and knowledge needed to develop the products recommended by marketing? Do they have time to devote to these new products, or are they already committed to other development projects? Do you maintain and regularly update your NPD priority list to be sure that your assets are employed in their highest and best use? At the same time, are you allowing your NPD group to jump from project to project or are they focusing on projects within their capabilities and pursuing them to completion?
Third: In your NPD process, do you involve production in the development process to be sure that any new product developed can actually be produced on the production equipment your company has? If your company does not have the capability to manufacture, do you have the outside resources available to provide the productive capacity needed to bring the product to market? At the same time, do you have the internal ability to effectively work with and monitor the external production of your products to assure timely delivery and appropriate quality and adherence to standards you require?
Fourth: Do marketing and sales have the capability to promote and sell the products developed? Do they have the contacts and channels needed to actually bring the product to those who will be buying the newly developed product? Does marketing have the talent and capacity to promote the new product effectively? Does sales have the necessary abilities to sell the product to potential users?
Fifth: Once the product is sold, does distribution/logistics have the ability and capacity to deliver the products as needed? If you can’t get the product to the buyers, it can’t be successful. Do you have the distribution network necessary for getting the product to market?
While this is not an exhaustive checklist, it does point at key elements in any new product development process, which should be included in the overall analysis of whether to proceed or not with a specific project.
Digging Deeper: The author recommends referring to Elements of Innovation, a collection of articles by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning consultants (available through www.cssp.com). See specifically the diagram on page 71 – also found in the article “Innovative Measures” in the Article Archives of www.cssp.com
M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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