speeding bullet
May 24th, 2016

8 Tips To Empower NPD Team Speed

Ok, so you’ve done your market research and found a market opportunity that can give you a competitive advantage. You assemble a NPD team quickly to develop the product and take advantage of the opportunity. You assemble the tools to move rapidly through the process. Yet you know you’ll want even more speed.

Here are 8 tips we give clients’ senior management that empower their teams to move quicker.

  1. Be sure your team starts with clear criteria. Identify product features, cost targets, schedule, and other important project goals and lock them in early. Mid-project changes will ensure delays.
  2. Communicate speed as an important program goal. But only as an equal goal to meeting (or exceeding) customer expectations, providing a well-designed solution, being manufacturable, and providing profit margins goals.
  3. Authorize a key decision maker on the team. If this is a major initiative, a senior manager should champion the project—providing communication between the team and other senior managers, offering team mentoring, and ensuring that resources are allocated to the team on a timely basis. This champion will have access with other senior managers for quick decision making. In addition to a senior manager champion, the team should have a decision maker from the key teams that will inherit the product, such as production, QA, purchasing, etc.
  4. Define a well documented and clearly understood NPD process. This provides a road map for the team. Leaving out or short-cutting steps (especially testing) will lead to problems and add time down the road. Waiting for decisions at the next stage or quarterly review will slow things down as well. Ideas must be evaluated and feedback provided quickly.
  5. Keep the team separate from the 900-lb. gorilla—your production line. Many times in small- to mid-sized companies, when the line goes down, it’s all hands on deck, putting NPD schedules at risk.
  6. Get R&D away from the program. If the program includes the development of a technology or something you’ve never done before, remove the risk for this program. If it’s an important element for future products, put it on a separate time line, separate development / investigation team, and fold it into a future NPD program when it’s ready.
  7. Solve the unknowns first. Do not move forward assuming you can do something that no one on the team truly understands. Even a small change later in the development cycle can ripple through the entire assembly. Redesign will cause delays.
  8. Use all of the best tools to model, test, and improve the design. Know the limitations of the prototype (model), especially where consumer and customer testing are concerned. Benchmark early! Put a known initiative (one in production) into the concept test deck for benchmarking against as a control. The big CPG companies do this well. And they are pros at turning market insights into viable successful products.

At BOLTGROUP we understand that speed to market has never been more important than in today’s fast-evolving world. NPD teams need the best practices and all the right tools to move through development stages efficiently and quickly. Senior managers can put their teams in the fast lane to success using these 8 tips.

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