One of your goals during this current recessionnow one of the longest on record at over 2 1/2 yearsshould have been the development of a new product to introduce during the coming recovery.

One of your goals during this current recession – now one of the longest on record at over 2 1/2 years – should have been the development of a new product to introduce during the coming recovery. As we write, that recovery still seems rather elusive, with so many new government policies that appear to hinder it. Nevertheless, it is still a legitimate objective to undertake. So let’s review some of the keys to good and successful new product development.

One thing I see as an important part of new product development is the need to manage change. Many new products are built upon the success of previous products in the company’s lineup. Much of that work is mainly driven to add new and improved versions of older, successful lines. This is important work, and we’ll discuss it more after we look at the other kind of product development, which adds a whole new dimension to your business and requires managing change.

Developing an entirely new line of products not currently manufactured is a much more risky undertaking, and it requires a management atmosphere that encourages risk taking and some associated failures. This might be the type of expense that is very hard to justify during this current recession. But with reduced business activity, it may permit more of management time devoted to a new direction for the company – managing that change will require real management skills.

If this product is to be an entirely new offering, the first rule is to be sure the new product idea will fit into the company’s overall strategic plan. Unless you are planning to go into an entirely new field of operation, the new product should be a strong complement to existing products and should have the ability to be marketed through the existing sales channels. It most likely will be an add-on product to supplement the current offerings and will have to compete with other existing alternatives.

If your new product is to be a new version of a product provided by a vendor and currently being re-sold, it must offer a whole new set of unique advantages over that current offering.

Next, you need to have a development engineer and product champion who has the required background to undertake the leadership role. Most likely he/she will be new to your company having come from a company that may already be in that or a related business. However, HE/SHE CANNOT BRING ANY PROPRIETARY INFORMATION FROM THAT COMPANY.