Article

6 common mistakes to avoid in new product development

By Charlie Wood, PhD, Director of Engineering, Fast Radius

Every new product goes through a set of defined — but not necessarily linear — phases on its way to becoming market-ready. First, there’s the concept or ideation phase, during which product teams think through the features their product may need and brainstorm potential designs. From there, teams begin designing, developing, and refining prototypes, returning to the ideation phase whenever they hit a roadblock or encounter a new challenge.

Most product teams approach this process by following the New Product Development (NPD) framework, which can be broken down into anywhere from four to eight steps, depending on the type of organization. For example, in industries with rather strict requirements, like aerospace, there are more steps over what could be many years of development work. However, most have a common framework that consists of four cyclical steps: design, build, test, and learn.

These early stages of product development are critical to the success of the entire project. If anything goes wrong in late stages due to earlier oversights, it can be incredibly difficult to correct course. As such, the product development process is of paramount importance when bringing a new product to market. Fortunately, product teams can set their products up for success by taking care to avoid these six common pitfalls.

1. Lack of specified requirements

Requirements define how and why a product will eventually be approved by a customer or regulatory board. Misunderstanding or not defining the requirements upfront can lead to countless complications further along in the development process.

Ensure early on that all stakeholders are aligned on requirements and that surprises will be awaiting the product development team late in the process. Ideally, requirements should be clearly defined before ideation even begins.

2. Unclear stakeholders

To that end, it’s also important that product development teams understand who their key stakeholders are. Whether developing a product for their own company or on behalf of a partner or end-user, truly understanding whose interests are at stake and whose voice matters in the approval process can substantially expedite the ideation process.

new product development
Involving key stakeholders in the design process and sourcing their feedback early and often can further refine the product and cut down on the number of prototypes needed.

3. Trying to go too fast

Speed is always a leading priority in the product development process, as the faster a product gets to market, the less costly the development process and the greater the competitive edge. However, speed should never come at the expense of thoroughness. Moving faster isn’t useful without a well-planned roadmap; any product development team that is prioritizing speed should also ensure it has a thorough and detailed plan.

4. Too many features or too much complexity

Giving equal weight to every stakeholder’s ideas and needs can often result in a product that is overloaded with features or too complex to work intuitively. While it’s always a good practice to listen to the customer, engineering and design principles must come first. Keep an eye on what’s required — not just what’s desired — and opt for an elegant solution over one that attempts to solve every problem.

5. Outsourcing product development

There are numerous benefits to outsourcing product development, particularly for companies who don’t have robust product development teams in-house. However, there are plenty of pitfalls, as well.

For one, teams that outsource product development relinquish much of their control over the process, which can result in a final product that’s not quite what was requested or not of the desired quality. It’s important that these decisions are viewed as partnerships, with a firm foundation of trust.

6. No clear plan for success

All successful projects start the same way: with a good plan. The more complex and aspirational the project, the more important this plan is — and the more detailed it should be.

While projects almost always deviate from this initial plan as conditions change, having a plan in place upfront will equip product development teams to take the changes in stride. A proper product development process, like we have at Fast Radius under the AS9100 certification, should provide a clear framework for this initial plan.

Optimize product development with an expert manufacturing partner

No matter the scale or complexity of a product, the new product development process always encompasses a range of business-, design-, engineering-, and operations-related challenges. An experienced manufacturing partner can streamline the process with professional advisory services that make it easy to keep to — or outpace — the project roadmap.

Fast Radius is dedicated to helping every customer achieve product development success from the initial ideation phase onward. Our team of highly qualified advisors, designers, technologists, and engineers can help customers adjust and modify not only their parts, but also their early designs and prototypes, thereby accelerating the production process and ensuring a cost-effective, high-quality product. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your team achieve new product development success, contact us today.

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