The Most Common Mistakes in NPI Process and How to Avoid

by Innovit Corporate Affairs | August 27, 2018 | Blog

New Product Introduction (NPI) is a complicated and highly collaborative process. And that means there’s a lot of room for error. These errors are very expensive and can slow down the whole NPI process.

Worst of all, they may go undetected until the launch. Can you imagine recalling the entire product line and having to start all over?

Fortunately, with our help, that’s a nightmare you shouldn’t have to face.

In this guide, we list the most common mistakes companies make when launching a new product. Read this guide to avoid these pitfalls and have a successful product launch.


Poor Project Management

Without the right team and leadership, you can’t hope to have a successful launch. When assembling your NPI project team, choose an experienced NPI project manager to spearhead the process. You will also need leaders who specialize in:

  • Product design engineering
  • Quality design engineering
  • Quality assurance
  • Manufacturing
  • Supply chain management
  • Sales management
  • Hardware/software configuration
  • Quality assurance

Assembling trustworthy, experienced leaders in these departments is the foundation of your NPI project’s success.


Poor Communication

However, even the best teams are rendered useless by poor communication. If your whole team isn’t on the same page, the work may come to a halt. Or worse, much of it may have to be redone.

After assembling a trustworthy project team, facilitate open communication at all times. Each of these departments must have open communication with each other and with you.

Most likely, the trickiest part of keeping open communication is that much of your team will be outsourced. Make sure all outsourced departments stay in communication with you and the rest of your team.


Sticking to the Initial Design

Most initial product designs are full of problems that don’t get noticed until manufacturing and testing starts. Don’t expect everything to go off without a hitch.

You will have to redesign several times throughout the process. So when planning your NPI process, allow extra time for this necessary redesign.

And keep testing throughout the entire process. Keep your eye on the quality, cost and difficulty of production, and the functionality of the product.


Not Incorporating User Feedback

And don’t think you’re finished once you’ve launched the product, either. Your team may think your product is ready, but what do your customers think?

Be ready to find out. Because when your product launches, they’ll be voicing their opinions everywhere. So be ready to modify the product according to their feedback.

Even better, get your product into consumers’ hands for testing before manufacturing the final product line. You can use this user feedback to make modifications before the product launch. These mods will be much less costly than post-launch modifications.

Try to get consumer feedback for each redesign during the process.

Unfortunately, though, there’s only so much redesigning you can do before the launch. Even with all this testing, you’ll probably still need to do some tweaking once the product hits the market. So you must still be ready to respond to post-launch feedback.


Over-designing the Product

Another pitfall of the design stage is over-designing the product. Designing a new product for launch is an exciting and passionate process. And over-excitement can lead to an overly-complex product design with excessive, unnecessary features.

You’ll end up with a jumbled mess of a product that’s not feasible to produce or use. If this hodgepodge gets all the way to the production phase, you’ll be sitting on a pile of wasted time with a major setback on your hands.

To avoid this fate, simplify your design. Think: why did you decide to launch a new product in the first place?

There must have been a simple reason for it, a need that this product would fill. Remember that reason and refocus your design on the product’s original purpose.

Also, calm down. Take a step back; look at it objectively.

Try to imagine what the consumer will think when they get their hands on it. What will they think about the variety of options vs ease-of-use? This will help you shave off unnecessary features and bring the design focus back on the product’s simple purpose.


Failure in Regulatory Compliance

Another huge thing to watch out for is that the final product will comply with all applicable regulations. If you don’t, you may have to take the fully-manufactured final product line all the way back to the design stage. This is an extremely expensive disaster that actually happens.

To avoid this, don’t treat regulatory compliance as an afterthought. You must account for compliance during the design stage. And keep testing for compliance throughout the NPI process.

And as much as you should have a leader in charge of compliance assurance, don’t just stop there. Your entire NPI project team should be aware of any regulations that must be complied with.


Paying for Wasted Time

Be careful of what you’re paying for when you outsource. Depending upon your project setup, you’re either paying your outsourced staff to work or to sit around.

Let’s say you’re outsourcing your engineering to the most competent engineering team you can afford. But no matter how competent they are, they can’t work on parts that haven’t come in yet.

However, you’re still paying them whether they’re working or waiting. If they’re waiting on 3D printed parts you ordered, you’re paying them for nothing.

If this is how you’ve set up your project, then you’ll save a lot of money by paying extra for faster 3D printing orders. Even if you pay double for 1-day vs 3-day part orders, do it. It’s likely a much better deal than paying your entire engineering staff for two extra, wasted days.


Avoid These Mistakes for a Smooth NPI Process

Now that you know, plan ahead and avoid these mistakes. Assemble the right department leaders and keep communication open. Set your project up for success with proper structuring.

Plan extra time for redesigns and keep testing throughout the NPI process. Keep design focused on its main purpose. And don’t forget about regulation compliance.

Heed these warnings for a successful new product introduction. And good luck with your product launch.

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