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There is a constant and relentless challenge to innovate and introduce the next range of products to the market along with the expected digital assets to support the sales and marketing activities of both the company their channel partners, and their customers. planned product development is key for industries which are driven by seasonality where a high percentage of new items are launched or released on a seasonal or more regular basis. The lifecycle of these products is relatively short from thought to launch to retirement and obsolescence. 

Some companies may not have a defined structure or process for product development. A structured come close to may be required as a company grows and the responsibility for product development moves beyond a relatively small group of people, and as the number of stakeholders involved increases.

A structured product progress process allows an organization to establish a consistent approach to product development which can be implemented, reviewed, adapted and improved. This is key for management of the innovation pipeline, the timeline, the tasks required, and the deliverables at each stage of the product lifecycle.

Product development steps may include:

  • Product ideation and concept evaluation
  • Business analysis to verify the product with the market
  • Product sourcing, product development or product adaptation
  • Packaging development
  • Finalize product specification landed costs, and product pricing
  • Sample and limited production runs
  • Test, evaluation, certification
  • Sign-off on product and packaging
  • Get item for consumption into stock
  • Launch product

Structured product development activity may require the establishment of a cross-functional team to represent the various business functions and geographies and to complete the tasks required during the development process. Best practice may also require the establishment of a separate domination and approval team, typically a group of senior executive management resources, with the responsibility to make an agreement or rejection decisions regarding new product development and also to ensure that the development team are compliant with the agreed product development process as defined for that organization.

Product development has traditionally been managed, with varying degrees of success, through project management tools, excel spreadsheets, electronic file share, document supervision and other systems. It requires a high level of oversight and coordination to manage these disconnected tools.

Modern ERP and CRM systems can support the setup of structured processes or workflows to support the product development process. These workflows can be used to define the mandatory product increase phases, activities, and deliverables for each phase of the process. They also provide functionality for alerts and electronic sign-off by authorized individuals at phase or milestone reviews. Product information can be set up and updated directly as field values or attributes in the substance master of the ERP system. Some solutions allow product information to be accessed by links to files stored in electronic file management solutions.

  • Improved management of product development pipeline
  • Better and consistent alignment of product and business strategy
  • improved control through task supervision and phased reviews to verify design and market assumptions
  • Shorter and more predictable development cycles
  • Improved ability to meet launch dates and manage market expectations
  • Reduction in the cost of late product launches.

Integration with ERP and CRM solutions and the transfer of data also need to be well thought-out. The security features of these applications, data governance and the change management process will ensure that there is a coordinated and controlled transfer or change of data among the PLM, PIM, and the ERP system during the lifecycle of a product.