Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Best Practices for New Product Development.

1) Plan for "right-to-market" v/s "speed-to-market."

Although being among the first to introduce a new product or extension of an existing product is an important goal, creating a product that will satisfy customers should be a higher priority. Companies can often have greater success entering a market late, but with a better product. The Thermos Electric Grill and IBM's ThinkPad notebook computers are good examples.

2) Focus innovation on product elements that are "visible and valuable."

IBM ThinkPad developers looked at all available technologies that would give their product more value for the customer, whether these were invented by IBM or not. Technological innovation should only be used to develop product features that the customer will be aware of and find valuable. Digital speedometers, for example, were soon abandoned by auto manufacturers when they found customers weren't aware of them and didn't think they added value.

3) Get physical fast.

Rapid prototyping to create tangible product models in the early stages of development allows engineers, designers and customers to learn more about a product's use by interacting with it, even if it’s just a physical mock-up, and to observe how customers use the product in the their own environment.

4) Have total team involvement in marketing research.

When it comes to researching customer requirements, it's better to have too much data than too little. In addition to surveys, quality function deployment methods and focus groups, the IBM ThinkPad team formed industry and customer advisory councils, and had "Customer Call Days" where members of the development team called customers directly to discuss the product.

5) Go beyond traditional market research.

Customers want it all. If you ask if they’re interested in a specific feature, they’ll invariably say "Yes." The Hewlett-Packard Digital Multimeter team asked customers if they had to choose from a list, which features would they keep. This "forced pain" questioning adds quality to quantitative data.

6) Have a complete model of customer needs.

The $APPEALS model introduced by Peter Marks in Defining Great Products, includes Cost, Availability, Packaging, Performance, Ease-of-use, Assurances, Life-cycle costs, and Sanctions (or social influences). This format offers a good starting point to understand customer's buying behavior as well as other factors that influence competitiveness.

7) Think "total product."

A customer's relationship with a company doesn’t end with the sale, but continues through service, upgrades and maintenance. It’s more economical to sell more to existing customers than it is to find new customers.

8) Ease-of-use opens new markets.

"Human factors" design can make a product more accessible. The less specialty knowledge required to use a product, the larger the potential market.

9) Understand the science of your product.

Defining a product's specifications means understand its physical and technological limitations. Knowing the trade-offs of the science and technology up-front can make the path of product definition clearer.

10) Choose your team carefully, then make them accountable.

Make sure the functions represented on your team are appropriate to the project. The JBL Sound Effects team had a seat reserved at every team meeting to represent the customer. Even when that seat remained empty, it still left a physical reminder for the rest of the team to keep the customer in perspective.


Jay Sea said...

More like this please. Thanks

john cotter said...

Glad you like it. More on the way.

Prachi Sharma said...

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