New product introduction (NPI): the power of collaborative workshops

Written by Graeme Robertson

03 August 2020

We provide a full end-to-end service at CB Technology, taking products from conception to completion. Each step of NPI involves careful planning and strong engagement with our clients. Clear communication and active collaboration is a must.

 

In those early days of the product journey, we run a series of workshops with new clients. Here’s what’s involved.

 

Why workshops are part of our NPI process

 

The workshops give us a chance to establish a rapport and learn more about each other’s working habits. They also allow us to garner as much information as possible about the product we’re about to manufacture. Our aim is to know as much about our new client’s product as they do.

 

In addition, the workshops are the first project-tracking step. The actions and timelines we set at this stage are reviewed in subsequent review meetings, usually held weekly.

 

Covering all bases

 

We send out questionnaires well in advance of each workshop, so we can spend every second of the time as meaningfully as possible. Requirements vary – we may need to redefine an approach completely, establish the basics, or build on an already-structured approach.

 

Sessions are completely tailored based on the information gathered from our research. But whatever stage the client’s systems are at, we look at the following areas in dedicated sessions, working out the answers to questions such as:

 

Materials

 

  • How could we optimise the current way materials are being used and managed?
  • How could costs could be reduced?
  • If there’s currently only a single source for material supply, what kind of alternatives could be put in place to offer more flexibility?
  • Do we need to consider any custom parts, or are any components heading towards end of life (EOL)?

 

Engineering

 

  • Could the manufacturing process be more efficient?
  • How could we make the system more reliable?
  • What kind of risks need to be managed?
  • What support do we need to put in place across the supply chain?

 

Quality

 

  • How can we make sure end consumers will be satisfied with the product?
  • What issues have occurred in the past that may cause lapses in product quality, and how can we help make sure they don’t happen again?
  • How can we deliver on the value the product is promising?

 

Commercial considerations

 

  • What terms and conditions do we need to share with our new client?
  • Do they understand the business requirements involved in the project?
  • How can we establish a process that will work for everyone logically, efficiently and profitably?

 

Every project varies in terms of the clarification we need to seek out – but the rapport we secure in these workshops is what really sets the solution-building wheels in motion.

 

Important introductions

 

As outlined above, workshops tend to be departmental, with staff members from both parties attending the workshop relevant to their workstream.

 

The result is an open, honest forum. It’s a real team session in which everyone builds a solid understanding of expectations, and a clear picture of the product’s history is shared.

 

The workshops also allow us to create a ‘peer-to-peer contact matrix’. Staff members within our client’s organisation are introduced to the specific CB Tech contact for specific areas of work. This limits manufacturing delays by ensuring that, when needed, the right conversations are taking place as quickly as possible.

 

The path to partnership

 

We lead the NPI process, removing unnecessary pressure on the client while still making sure their team completes the necessary tasks. In short, we ‘pull’ the information and actions we need from them, rather than them needing to ‘push’ them on us.

 

In addition, we take a straightforward approach to the contractual process. There are no legal loopholes, no complex paperwork and no legal jargon. Instead, we use a simple head of terms sheet that clearly outlines a set of critical parameters. Its purpose is to protect both parties.

 

These early meetings and workshops are where the foundations of our new working relationship are put in place, and we set ourselves up firmly as an extension of your team.

 

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