Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Product Launch and Development Process Review Essential Product Development for Engineers
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The launch of your new product will require effort, resources and a well thought out plan. Again, depending on the nature of your product and the industry sector, specifically how products are typically launched will vary. However, some useful recommendations are listed below. You may want to consider some of them as you put together your launch strategy.
If you are fortunate enough to have sales and marketing expertise in your small manufacturing business (and indeed your cross-functional team), Product Launch is the product development stage where they can lead and make a significant contribution.
Or alternatively, successfully launching products to get ‘more bang for your buck’, is something specialist marketing and advertising businesses can assist small manufacturers with. They bring professionalism, experience and expertise to a part of the development process engineers are traditionally less assured with.
Key Product Launch Considerations
Product Development Review
Lessons learned sessions should be held at the end of the product development process. Here, the cross-functional team review how the process unfolded and compare this against the original plan. What went well? What went badly? What would you change if you had to do it again? Consider the top 5 things for each of these and rank them. Reflect on these questions from the perspectives of the different disciplines in the cross-functional team.
Make sure lessons are learned and captured so they can be accessed and influence future development projects. Use the knowledge gained in this project to refine future plans, process stages and other aspects of the project. Use the expertise gained to shorten the development cycle, learn from mistakes and spread best practice to others within the business; people who perhaps were not part of the cross-functional team.
Continuous Improvement activities are a must after the product has been launched. All who come in contact with the product, throughout its lifecycle, should be encouraged to feedback good ideas, refinements and improvements. For example, great ideas can be obtained from customers, sales, design engineers, production technicians, suppliers, service and maintenance, and even those responsible for disposal. Importantly there should be a clear process or mechanism for feeding these ideas back to the design engineers (probably the most appropriate keepers of the information in the process).
Engineering change orders (ECOs) traditionally fulfil this function in many manufacturing businesses. The ECO process involves requesting a change, followed by review, approval and finally implementation. CAD models and technical drawings capture changes and are controlled by up-issuing, revisions and version control.
To complement the traditional ECO procedure (which may be a paper or digital process), the web should be used to conveniently feed improvement ideas back. Considering the list of potential contributors above, good ideas and improvements can be fed back through digital cameras, mobile phones, emails, websites, etc.
Finally, at the end of the product development process remember to celebrate – big time! Celebrating success also provides a great opportunity to thank everybody for their effort and show recognition for their input. Additionally, it repays employees’ goodwill and hard work, with the effect people feel appreciated. Morale, trust and loyalty increase as a result.
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