As they strive to stay competitive and relevant to their customers, companies must regularly turn new product ideas into tangible products. Businesses survey their customers to find out what they need, then brainstorm ideas for products that might meet their requirements. Businesses carefully vet concepts for new products and determine the best path of development to follow.
New Product Introduction (NPI) is the process that takes an idea from an initial working prototype to a thoroughly refined and reproducible final product. Since NPI requires a substantial investment of time and resources, careful planning goes into each step to ensure that the result will be worth the effort.
Concept to Reality
Once developers decide on the purpose of a new product, the work of modification and refinement begins. Product engineers join with marketing, sales and business personnel to define precisely which specifications the new product must have to meet the desires of customers. Designers float concepts for the new product until the feasibility of a particular design route establishes itself as the best solution.
The NPI process proceeds as constant modifications and improvements to the initial idea continue until stakeholders agree the product design is mature enough to create a working prototype. When a concrete example of the product idea exists, designers can then further perfect the concept in each subsequent test build. Testing, refinement and polishing keep on while the final version of the product begins to take shape.
As engineers finalize the product design, production planners begin deciding on the best way to mass-produce the product. Their task is to identify parts sources and develop strategies for purchasing the required stock to meet production goals. Before the final schematics are completed, designers must also determine how to test the new product for proper functionality.
Each step of the design process emerges from the previous stage. Business analysts continue to gauge customer needs and predict how the new product can meet them. Marketers decide how to communicate the capabilities of the new product while the business office calculates the opportunity for monetization. All of this activity proceeds as final schematics, parts procurement plans, assembly instructions, test procedures and final design refinements inch the product closer to the start of its first production run.
Most companies begin working with a contract manufacturer (CM) early in the product lifecycle of a new product. Consulting with the manufacturing company that will ultimately build your new electronics product offers the ability to spot potential problems and begin solving them early. Ideally, when the CM throws the switch and starts the first production run, they have had the opportunity to eliminate any significant glitches that could occur in the manufacturing process.