How to Get New Products to Market Faster

July 17, 2014

by Jack Crane

Too many manufacturers require excessive time to bring new products to market, and those delays prevent them from maximizing the rewards of marketing new products. Taking too long to get to market can mean:

  • cost overruns that erode expected margins
  • prospects upset by delays
  • opportunities lost to rivals who get to market first

Scale the Four Biggest Obstacles to New Product Development

Over many years spent assisting clients with development of new products, I have seen clients face a range of challenges. Some of the major ones are:

Prioritization

Many companies struggle trying to commercialize too many ideas, and that prevents them from getting anything completed. Lean offers a useful lesson here: it is better to start small and accomplish something than over commit resources and fail. Prioritizing can be done effectively with proper planning, and there are guidelines to assist the process.

Managing Resource Constraints

Some companies have dedicated, new product development personnel, but many assign those responsibilities to employees already wearing production (or other) hats. Understanding how to effectively allocate the development work can be a key contributor to success. Identifying clear project priorities on an ongoing basis to all involved is a principal requirement for effective management of resources.

Scheduling

The journey from idea to delivery can take months or even years. And while we understand the production flow with standard items is quite predictable, new products entail numerous unknowns. There is a pressing need to maximize workflow. This is especially true through the engineering phase, where predictability of time requirements is poorest and labor costs are highest. Lean methodologies can be appropriately applied to new product scheduling.

Optimizing Design for Manufacturability and Assembly

Meeting customer specifications is the beginning of new product development. Ideally, new products will be designed optimally for manufacturability and assembly, with a supply chain in mind that provides good work flow.

Improving Time to Market for Electri-Cable Assemblies

Electri-Cable Assemblies (ECA) is one example of a CONNSTEP client that has used our Lean new product development service to improve time to market. This Shelton-based manufacturer of wiring harnesses and electrical solutions for panel system furniture has been engaged in Lean manufacturing for many years. Only within the last 12 months, however, has the company also begun to embrace Lean aspects of new product development for new products.

“CONNSTEP has been a great resource partner for us in this endeavor,” says ECA Product Manager, Michael O’Keefe. “Our journey has taken us through an evolving process to identify areas where we can continue to make significant gains in our time to market.”

O’Keefe says traditional Lean tools, such as their visual projects board, have been an invaluable part of ECA’s new product development efforts.
“[The projects board] is a key part of sharing large amounts of data—not only with LPD team members, but also with those who are not involved in the day-to-day LPD process. Our next steps are designed to reduce rework, which we have come to understand is a direct result communication breakdown. We are now working on process improvements that will reduce those breakdowns and further shorten our time to market.”

Prioritizing Project Actions for Bauer, Inc.

Meanwhile, Bauer, Inc. turned to CONNSTEP in order to better marshal short-term actions associated with large numbers of projects. This Bristol-based enterprise has supplied the global aviation industry with test solutions for fuel, lubrication, and other applications for more than 80 years.

“We have more than 120 projects in process at any given time, with approximately 40 of those requiring major engineering coordination and effort,” says Bauer Vice President Andy Novotny. “We asked CONNSTEP for project management guidance and assistance using visual boards to improve the effectiveness of our engineering and management team reviews.

“CONNSTEP’s product development workshop was beneficial in helping to break down certain planning and execution practices. We came away with visual board concepts that will enable multiple engineering teams to more effectively review numerous projects. The concepts are finalized, and we have already started using certain components to manage specific projects.”

How Can We Help YOU?

Whether your business has a dedicated new product development team and well-defined process, or you are splitting product development responsibilities with production personnel ad hoc, CONNSTEP can offer you customized continuous improvement methods and best practices gleaned from international resources to help you reduce time- and cost-to-market, improve quality, and maximize utilization of resources.

Get a consultation to learn more about how to reduce time to market with our new product development services, including:

  • strategic marketing planning
  • ideation sessions to develop new ideas
  • finding new technology to accelerate new product development
Request a Consultation

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