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Solutions>Product Feasibility

New Product Development - Feasibility Study

  • Have you got an idea for a new product?

  • Have you explored all the possibilities?

  • Do you know if it is feasible to design, manufacture, and market.

  • What is the competition doing?

  • How to build it in the most efficient way?

  • How do I present it to potential investors

  • What are the financial resources needed in order to launch the product?

  • What are my human resources requirements?

  • How can I market the product and who are my potential customers.

 These are all questions, Astornet team can help you answer. We realize the confidentiality of such matters. That is why, your project will remain strictly confidential and information obtained and study results are solely the property of our client. 

Deliverables

  • Technical & Mechanical Feasibility
  • Product Design
  • Product Prototype
  • Financial Plan
  • Marketing Plan
  • Components outsourcing
  • Manufacturing and production outsourcing

There are two elements needed for new product development: a process and the people to participate in it.

  • Consultancy services including product identification, Market survey etc.
  • Techno-economic feasibility report preparation.
  • Technology sourcing
  • Preparation of basic engineering package from Laboratory / Pilot plant etc.data.
  • Detailed engineering.
  • Procurement services including inspection and expediting.
  • Site management including project monitoring.

The New Product Development Process

No new product development process is exactly the same as another. Two processes may have similar steps, but the underlying function of the process is controlled by the specific company culture.

The information gathered during this study indicates that the NPD process can be broken down into four general categories:

  • Idea generation
  • Concept development
  • Product and process design
  • Production and delivery.

Idea Generation

Every organization must come up with new products and/or improvement ideas for an existing line, and developing and using all sources for potential ideas is vital. The study identified specific sources that tend to be good idea generators, including:

  • market research
  • focus groups
  • third-party/inventor input
  • sales
  • technical service
  • competitive intelligence
  • brainstorming
  • suggestion boxes
  • specific company laboratory/research group
  • management.

The ability to reduce the vast number of ideas into a more realistic figure is a key issue at most organizations. One best-practice organization uses an annual brainstorming/planning session for this purpose, as well as a matrix diagram to prioritize which ideas will have the greatest impact on the customer. Another organization encourages its employees to devote portions of their time to developing ideas, going as far as to provide grant money to employees for further research or idea examination.

A third best-practice company starts with a strategic document outlining product lines the company will pursue. The strategy provides product slots that are to be filled with specific product ideas. Upon examination and approval, the viable ideas that fit into the product strategy enter the development process. Yet another organization begins by outlining current market size for a product, estimated project return, estimated capital requirements, and competitive issues. Through customer discussions the company determines what customers want and need and then develops concrete concepts from the feedback.

Depending on the organization, unused ideas are either stored or discarded. One organization stores all ideas in a database and revisits them until they are deemed useless. Another company charges the individual designer with deciding to keep or discard and idea. In the end, the company culture and the company's industry combine to determine what happens to unused ideas.

Concept Development

Once the viable ideas are selected, they must be further developed, examined, and prioritized before the select few concepts proceed to full design. This phase requires a more formal review and planning process that ensures the concepts are technically feasible, will make a sustainable product, and will-with conservative estimates-allow the organization to make a profit.

Feasibility assessment can be considered a subset of this phase. It usually is performed, however, on a regular basis throughout the front end of the NPD process (idea generation to design).

This phase typically includes development of a formal business plan with actual forecasts, product description and initial specifications, preliminary marketing strategy, and project schedule and resource requirements. At that point, an executive review generally approves the product for design and additional resource allocation.

One best-practice company has two major gates that must be passed before the product enters the design phase: the business plan approval and the product concept review. The business plan approval includes action items such as strategy alignment, competitive positioning, sourcing plan, resource identification, design-to-cost analysis, return on investment analysis, risk assessment, and a preliminary process plan. Once the business plan is approved, the concept is given a formal review. Key steps undertaken here include top-level product simulation; design failure mode effects analysis; and simulation, test, characterization, and quality plans.

Another organization's concept development stage centers around a formal executive approval. Once the top ideas are selected, they are developed further, as well as costed. The costing activity requires that the team forecast a product cost within a certain percentage of the wholesale price. At the same time, the engineering department assesses the feasibility to make sure it will be able and ready to design and produce the product. Major questions that must be answered before formal approval include: How are we going to build this?

What technologies are we going to use? Where are the factories going to be? This information is placed into a detailed project plan and presented to the executive team.

Product and Process Design

This stage involves turning the concept into a tangible product design and transforming that design into a working model, be it a prototype or a pilot. Along with designing the product, it is essential to design the process that will produce the product.

The main areas addressed include:

  • identifying, monitoring, and implementing changes to specifications;
  • design freeze;
  • and verifying product designs through pilots.

To change the original product specification, some form of approval is required. This can range from upper management review to individual functional area review to team consensus. Changes usually are monitored to determine if the quality of the product has been increased or if the design meets customer requirements to a greater extent.

At a number of organizations, the design is frozen when the product specifications are developed and set. Minor changes, refinements, and tuning of the product can occur only to a certain extent. Other organizations never completely freeze the design and are open to change even after the product has gone to production. If a change is determined to be necessary and vital to fulfilling customer needs and expectations, the organization will make the change.

Prototypes or pilots allow the designers to test and verify the ability of the product or service to perform as originally expected. One best-practice organization has two prototype states. The first is an engineering prototype in which a small amount of a new product is built to ensure it works and meets customers' needs. This enables the team to resolve a majority of problems early in the process. The second, or advanced, prototype requires that a larger amount of the product is produced so that formal internal and field testing can occur. These prototypes usually are close to how the product will appear during production.

Another organization selects test sites to roll out the new product concept. Once the site has been selected, proper training is given to employees so that they understand their roles and responsibilities. The product is then implemented and tested with collected measures to assist in fine-tuning the process and make clear its impact on the customer and employees. Any changes to the process are implemented during the test run. After all the tests are completed and the process has been verified, the product is rolled out to other selected sites.


Production and Delivery

Once the final design is verified and approved, the product is launched into production. A scale-up period normally is required before full production can begin. Individuals from numerous functional areas are needed to ensure a smooth transition between design and manufacturing.

Several items normally are required before production can begin. They include:

  • a formal manufacturing/production plan including all product requirements,
  • a detailed service plan,
  • a quality plan to ensure all products conform to specifications/customer needs,
  • a marketing plan,
  • and a continuous improvement effort for the process.

For one best-practice organization, installing common process equipment at its plants around the world help cut down on the inconsistency among products produced at various plants. It is almost impossible to create exactly the same products, however, because of the differences in the plants' locations, employees, and facilities. A quality assurance group within each business unit is responsible for verifying that the product and each manufacturing site producing the product meet the required criteria.

At another company, once the product is ready to launch, the marketing manager and product manager determine that the marketing plan is ready, the media are in place, and the sales personnel are informed. At the same time, the project manager coordinates with all technical people related to the production of the product. The team is present at the plant location during scale-up in case any problems arise and to ensure that product quality and other criteria are met.

TOOLS USED THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS

Specific tools and activities are used throughout the new product development process to enable organizations to better understand the markets they wish to enter, the products they wish to produce, and the means needed to develop the finished goods.

Many organizations have and use documentation tools and/or methods that allow for concise capturing of new product development information. These tools have a variety of names and activities, but common themes arose in the data collected during this study. The first main category is specification requirements, which includes systems, internal customers, product, hardware, software, and function.

The second main category is a product development master file that contains information on various projects and their history as they proceed through the development process. Future product teams may use this information as a reference. Included in these files is information on past business plans, all elements of design and development, launch plans, team activities, minutes from meetings, and project schedules.

MEASURES FOR NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Key measures are an important element of any new product development process. They enable practitioners to make decisions about the viability of new product ideas, monitor those new product ideas that have been selected to enter the process, make necessary adjustments to a product development effort as it moves through the process, and help determine the success or failure of the product after development.

The measures fall into a variety of categories:

  • risk
  • corporate strategy
  • market
  • technology
  • production
  • financial
  • cost
  • time.

A number of these categories are used more frequently than others, such as market (89 percent of respondents), financial (89 percent of respondents), production (83 percent of respondents), time, (83 percent of respondents), and cost (78 percent of respondents).

Participants indicated the key measures or results they felt most satisfied with, in terms of improvement. These included increased number of new products per employee (50 percent of best-practice companies), reduced time to market for new products (50 percent of best-practice companies), and improved quality of new products (45 percent of best-practice companies).

Conclusion

While this study uncovered a number of important activities the best-practice companies use for new product development-such as teams and measures-it is important to remember that the process will differ at each organization. Each activity is driven by the company culture. It is necessary, therefore, to understand the culture engrained in an organization before any of these activities can be adapted or developed there.

No matter what form it takes, the development of new products and services will continue to be a vital part of every organization. Continuous improvement in terms of understanding the related process and making strides to develop true efficiencies is essential to organizational survival.