How to Maximize Innovation and Optimize the New Product Development Process

Innovation and new product development are topics often approached with a lot of idealism. Entrepreneurs may think their idea will carry them through all the stages of getting a product to market. However, if a dream was enough, then there would never be stories about new products failing – and there are virtually thousands of market failures every single year. To avoid becoming statistics, entrepreneurs need to get the right people on their side to help them overcome the hurdles common to all new ideas.

That’s not to say that entrepreneurs should lose all their optimism. That’s a key ingredient in success. Instead, it is about having pragmatic confidence. Successful entrepreneurs understand where they may have weaknesses and use resources to fill those gaps. Through this strategy, they can optimize innovation and new product development, and have a truly successful launch.

Barriers to Innovation and New Product Development 

Innovation and new product development

New entrepreneurs may run into hurdles in innovation and new product development because they’re unfamiliar with the process. Specifically, they may find themselves facing one—or more—of six common obstacles.

Insufficient discovery

The discovery phase in any NPD process is a vital part of determining the efficacy of a project. If the idea isn’t researched or tested, the creator may find they’ve developed something that’s not useful, is less suitable than existing options or – worst of all – their design infringes on an existing patent

Funding gaps

Runway is a term that creators must get familiar with. It’s the period a developer has left before they run out of financing for a project. The cost of project development can vary widely, and it’s essential to budget for every stage to ensure funding lasts as long as it should. Even the best, most innovative idea can fall flat with poor financial planning.

Poor strategic planning

Creators need to consider a lot of different things aside from the product itself. They must have strategies in place to develop the tooling they need, as well as product and marketing strategies that will ensure they can gain interest while also meeting demand cost-effectively. Without a strategic plan, creators may spend too much time in the early stages, like prototyping, causing innovation to stall.

Information silos

Bringing a new product to market requires a team. The creator will need marketing, manufacturing, retail partnerships, and lots of other partners, all of which are segmented. This leads to information silos that keep the team from unifying to reach a single goal. Without a communication plan, there is no way for an entrepreneur to create a capable team.

Inflexible design

It’s very easy for creators to get stuck on the design they had in their heads at the start of the project. Unfortunately, that design isn’t always realistic. It may be too expensive or complex to make on a set budget, or it may be entirely impossible. The creator who refuses to adapt their design will often find themself with a product plan that is not viable.

Ineffective partnerships

In many cases, entrepreneurs concerned about finances will stick to the lowest possible quotes when choosing manufacturing partners. This may lead to a situation where they work with someone who doesn’t have their best interest in mind. The producer will instead focus on creating the product for the lowest costs, which leads to inferior design.

An astonishing 95% of new products fail every single year, and typically, one of the above barriers is the direct cause. Entrepreneurs who want to overcome the odds need to leverage the right partnerships, resources, and support in their process.

Tips for Optimizing Development and Overcoming Barriers

What makes the difference between success and failure in innovation in new product development is partnerships. There are many third parties out there that creators can work with to bring their products to market. To find the best possible one to overcome common barriers, they should seek out the following attributes:

  • Collaboration: The partner should schedule regular meetings and updates through all stages of the process to keep the creator informed. It’s vital to have a single point of contact with any agency to keep communication lines open and eliminate information silos.
  • Expertise: Working with a designer who has developed similar products in the past will reduce many issues with design and discovery. They will know what has worked before and will offer alternatives for ideas that aren’t feasible.
  • Access: While it may be tempting to choose an overseas contractor, it would be costly and time-consuming to meet in person or get a tour of their office. The partner should be local enough that the in-office visits are possible. This facilitates communication and collaboration.
  • Processes: A company that follows Lean protocols and other proven manufacturing techniques will be better prepared to come up with an overarching plan. This is vital to ensure strong strategic planning from beginning to end.
  • Options: The partner should have a wide range of prototyping and development techniques like 3D printing, CNC machining, mold making, and more. This allows them to choose the best possible process for creating the product in a way that controls funding and design.
  • End-to-End Service: It is much more cost-effective to work with a company that can offer everything from prototyping to small-run manufacturing. By having a single entity control the process, many information silos are eliminated, and the design is perfected.

Optimizing innovation and new product development is about working with a strong partner and building a solid plan. With these two things acting as a foundation, any creator can navigate hurdles in the process. There are many moving components to any creative process, so the more support available to manage them, the better.

Pacific Research Laboratories can guide you to success in the innovation and new product development process. Call (206) 408-7603 or visit our contact page  for more details.