Like everything else in life, a new product-development plan will not go as planned. Key milestone dates will slip. What will be the impact on the schedule? Is this acceptable? Is the product introduction keyed to some outside event such as a major international trade show? If so, how will adjustments be made to get back on schedule?
This is also the time when cost overruns will happen. Be sure to run cost checks on all important changes made to the original concepts to be sure you can reach the final cost objectives. Bring the manufacturing people into all the key meetings to get feedback on manufacturing procedures and costs. They can also be helpful in detecting improvements in design for manufacturing efficiencies.
Sometimes people with critical skills will become overburdened with other demands and will decide on their own which of their many projects is more important. This is where management must step in to make those critical decisions.
At this time, I like to remember the words of Peter Drucker, who often extolled management to “feed your opportunities and starve your problems.” Be sure that as a manager you keep your key critical-skills people focused on your opportunities.
Somewhere, usually about two-thirds of the way through the development, a critical failure will occur that will determine the fate of the entire project. This failure may appear small or unimportant at the time, but you must successfully resolve this failure or drop the project altogether. To ignore its implications or provide a band-aid solution will invite a future catastrophe of greater proportion when the failure occurs in the field and hundreds of products will be involved. And do not doubt that it WILL occur again.
Success with this new high-margin product will provide your company with new markets and sustainable growth for many years to come when executed properly.
New Product Development (part 4)
By Jack Marino
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