Development to commercialization

A product is anything that is capable of satisfying a felt need. A new product is the one which is truly innovative and is significantly different from other existing products.

The development of a new product passes through seven distinct stages.

The stages are: needs identification, advance product planning, advance design, detailed engineering design, production process design and development, product evaluation & improvement and product use & support.

Needs identification must be preceded must be preceded by idea generation. New product development starts with an idea. Ideas emanate from customers, top management, staff of the marketing department, production department or from the engineering section.

Once a product idea surfaces, it must be demonstrated that, the new product fulfils some consumers needs, and that existing products do not satisfy the need.

A new product prior to development exists only as a word description, a drawing or a prototype. The next step involves a jump in investment that dwarfs the cost incurred in the earlier stages. At this stage the company will determine whether the product idea can be translated into a technically and commercially feasible product. If it cannot, the accumulated project cost will be lost for any useful information gained in the process.

Product development

The job translating target customer requirements into a working prototype is helped by a set of methods known as quality function deployment (QFD). The methodology permits the measuring of the trade offs and costs of providing the customer requirements. A major contribution of QFD is that it improves communication between marketers, engineers, and the manufacturing people.

Physical prototypes:

The R&D department will develop one or more physical versions of the product concept. Its goal is to find a prototype that embodies the key attributes described in the product- concept statement that performs safely under normal use and conditions, and that can be produced within the budgeted manufacturing costs. Developing and manufacturing a successful prototype can take days, weeks, months, or even years. Sophisticated virtual reality technology is now speeding the process. By designing and testing product designs through simulation, for example, companies achieve the flexibility to respond to new information and to resolve uncertainties by quickly exploring alternatives.

Boeing designed its 777 aircraft on a totally digital basis. Engineers, designers, and more than 500 suppliers designed the craft on a special computer network without ever making a blueprint on paper. Its partners were connected by an extranet enabling them to communicate, share ideas, and work on the design at a distance. A computer-generated “human” could climb inside the three dimensional design on screen to show how difficult maintenance access would be for a live mechanic. Such computer modeling allowed engineers to spot design errors that otherwise would have remained undiscovered until a person began to work on a physical prototype. Avoiding the time and cost associated with building physical prototypes reduced development time and scrap page and rework by 60 to 90 percent. With the emergence of the web, there is a need for more rapid prototyping and more flexible development processes. Effective prototyping may be the most valuable core competence an innovative organization can hope to have. This has certainly been true for software companies such as Microsoft, Netscape, and the hundreds of Silicon Valley start–ups. The specification driven companies require that every “I” be dotted and “t” be crossed before anything can be shown to the next level of management, prototype-driven companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft, and Netscape – cherish quick and dirty tests and experiments.

Lab scientists must not only design the product’s functional characteristics, but also communicate its psychological aspects through physical cues. How will consumers react to different colors, sizes and weights? In the case of mouth wash, a yellow color supports an “antiseptic claim (Listerine), a red color supports a refreshing” claim (Lavoris), and a green or blue color supports a “cool” claim (Scope). Marketers need to supply lab people with information on what attributes consumers seek and how consumers judge whether these attributes are present.