13th May, 2021
A new product introduction (NPI) process includes all activities within an entire organization to identify, develop and launch a new or improved product.
The new product introduction process can focus on a physical product, such as a smartphone or a service offer.
The second, third, fourth, etc.. generation of existing products also go through a robust NPI process before product launch.
For some divisions, such as Marketing and Sales, NPI activities begin after design and development and relate solely to the launch and commercialization of the product and everything is approached from a revenue growth perspective.
From a manufacturing perspective, which is the focus of this article and what we’ll be discussing, it encompasses all the steps from product ideation, going through the manufacturing process until market launch.
For the NPI process to be successful, it must have the full and effective support of senior management in all departments and divisions.
An effective NPI program involves a lot of cross-functional communication, a work team that knows how to retain valuable information and a final evaluate phase after the product hits the market.
A Step by Step Guide to the NPI Process
The various phases of the NPI process will vary greatly from company to company and sometimes even within the different divisions of the same company.
Some companies will create an NPI process divided into major phases (sometimes referred to as gates) such as
- Solidifying Ideas
- Feasibility and Capability Studies
- Product Development
- Pre- Production Test
- Mass Manufacturing
This phase gate system is used to keep everyone, especially management, informed on the progress.
But, stages like the ones above are very broad and in practice, not clear enough to keep management apprised of all the project’s requirements and dedicated resources needed, much less of its progress.
It’s always best to break down the process into as many stages as possible to keep a better sense of all the work that needs to be done.
Here in Titoma, we focus on the design and manufacturing stages of a new or existing product, which we can easily break into 10 stages without including the review process performance stage that every product development team should do.
If you’re looking for a product development team please get in touch with us, we might be exactly what you need.
If you’re looking to learn more about new product introduction NPI, keep reading for a swift breakdown.
NPI Process Early Stages
Putting Together a Team of Experts
They’ll be in charge of pushing the NPI project forward.
Be careful on who you choose as this might be the difference between a successful product launch or failure; be especially cautious when designating the project manager.
It has to be someone with a lot of initiative and creativity, but overall, experienced and highly organized as to keep track of the project progress and gather data for future projects involving NPI.
During the gate review ( just a term to refer to the moment at the end of NPI when you have to review what was done right and what was done wrong) the manager must ensure the team ties up any remaining documentation tasks for a complete review process.
If your current project doesn’t succeed, make sure you have data to improve the NPI process of your next project.
Determining Feasibility before Product Introduction Process
In today’s highly competitive market, no company can afford to make the substantial investment needed for product development just to find out that there never was a real use for the product.
Any effective NPI process must include clear deadlines and expectations; they must be measurable.
The project manager will determine whether it makes sense to move the project forward or not.
NPI Process Design Stage
Product Architecture Development
This stage of the new product introduction (NPI) is extremely important, the components you select for your product will have a direct impact on the manufacturing processes.
Here at Titoma, we follow a DFM approach for the design process and the whole product development process.
Prototyping and Testing
Once all mechanical, electronic, off the shelf and fastener components have been selected, comes the prototyping.
This in and of itself can be divided into many stages, but let’s rather focus on the importance of it for the new product introduction process.
We’re talking about MVP here, fully functional prototypes that can be taken into volume production as we move further down product development.
The prototypes will be used to run final market testing, collect customer feedback, product quality assurance, and most importantly, avoid costly validation testing down the road.
In many instances, product teams will leave testing for certifications at the very last stage of new product introduction (NPI).
That’s a big mistake, doing so guarantees that after thinking the manufacturing process is done, you’ll realize your product doesn’t pass certification testing.
This will send you back to the design board and will force you to do expensive re-design changes.
NPI Process Manufacturing Stage
Now we’re reaching the end of the new product introduction process.
The NPI process proceeds to the manufacturing plant where we’ll get those quality products for your customer needs.
However, many things can still go wrong.
Efficient manufacturing can only be achieved when Design for Manufacturing was implemented from the very beginning of the product design.
This means designing the product along with full active support of the manufacturing plant, and supply chain partners with whom you did material forecasting to secure all the components and parts you need for the production process.
Having the right supply chain partners to source components from is vital, especially in the electronics industry where components have lead times of up to 32 weeks.
Quality products and the product lifecycle will also be affected by the kind of components suppliers you have and the components you get.
If DFM was done properly throughout the development process, then a smooth mass manufacturing experience is ahead of you.
This has proven effective for us more than once.
Don’t forget that a well-planned process for mass manufacturing includes quality controls and process documentation for a continuous improvement effort.
Ho to Optimize The NPI Process?
New Product Introduction Processes are never easy and generally require multiple revisions before moving from stage to stage.
This is especially true when the NPI is approached in a straight line; as represented in the process flow diagram below.
The best solution for New Product Introduction development is a DFM approach.
Any product development project will only succeed if its design has been optimized for manufacturing.
This means that very early on in the design stage you should be in contact with the marketing team, the manufacturing plant, and key suppliers to make sure anything that’s being done on the design stage can be manufactured without any major hassle and will satisfy customer needs.
Everyone needs to be on the same page, that’s how you reach true NPI optimization.
The issue with a standard, progressive NPI process, creates the illusion of separate responsibilities thus losing valuable information.
Conclusion – Product Development Process
Every new product or optimization of a previous generation comes with a specific set of challenges, for this reason, a team of experts will have to analyze each project and make decisions on which are the NPI stages they should focus on.
When someone asks what is the right NPI process, the real answer is that it is circumstantial.
However, DFM is an element that must always be present, otherwise, you’ll end up doing redesign work at the manufacturing stage.
Titoma has been working on New Product Introduction with an emphasis on DFM for over 20years.
We can take a project from Design to Manufacturing and ensure quality products will be delivered at the right time so you don’t miss your time to market.
If you need help send us an email and we’ll let you know if we’re the right manufacturing partner for you.
New Product Introduction FAQ
What is NPI and NPD?
NPI stands for New Product Introduction and NPD stands for New Product Development; many times these terms are used interchangeably to describe the process of bringing a product to life; sometimes you’ll hear claims that they’re totally different things.
In practice, defining the difference between one another is not a priority.
What is NPI in Manufacturing?
NPI is manufacturing means New Product Introduction; it’s the process of taking a product from early-stage design to manufacturing.