5 costly mistakes you should avoid when developing new products

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1 5 costly mistakes you should avoid when developing new products By Paul Forsythe Managing Director at Alemare Solutions And Product Development expert with 25 years experience Hello, As you will know, developing a brand new product or service can be a strain on your business. It often leaves you in a tough position lacking resources of both time and finance. Seeking help with difficulties when developing a new product and properly evaluating the risks that you may face will make life easier. Many people get so involved in their new product that they forget that they have a business to run. Failing to get this balance right can have a huge affect on the rest of the business and even the product itself. Cracks start to appear in the planning and marketing strategy followed closely by unexpected extra costs and delays. I m talking about: Poor planning and focus during the development process Missing new opportunities Missing the potential risks to business that product development can have Failing to keep up-to-date with industry changes or the activities of competitors For these reasons, it s vital that you look for specialist help and advice when you want to introduce a new product that will require extensive planning. I ve been working in product development and process trouble-shooting for more than thirty years. I started Alemare Solutions to remove the risks for companies that want to grow their profits by improving their product range. The company was founded in 2006 and specialises in teaching clients to think inventively so that they can create ideas and solve problems in order to develop high quality products on time and within budget. I ve put together this free report as a guide to warn you about typical problems that can occur during the product development process. It describes mistakes that are commonly made when developing new products and gives you important information to avoid them and ensure your business doesn t suffer. Please keep reading >>>

2 Evaluate the risks to business that a new product may have... When you are looking to develop a new product, it is important that you have a plan for it. It s an old business proverb but, when new products are involved, Failing to Plan is indeed Planning to Fail. An effective planning process not only sets out the timetable that leads to your product launch but more importantly, it makes you examine all areas of your business and highlights areas that need to change or adapt. Your planning should start with a detailed analysis of your target market. Pay particular attention to changes in technology, new regulations, methods of doing business and activities of your competitors. This exercise, on its own, makes the biggest difference between success and failure. Do you know exactly who buys your products? The answers may suggest new markets that don t require major changes to your existing products and services. You may even find that the new customers are prepared to pay higher prices. When your target market changes, areas of your business such as sales and transport may also need to change. Welcome the opportunity to look at how your business can run more smoothly and increase the chances that the project will be a commercial success. Don t forget to look for any risks that a new product may pose for your business. It s most important to consider the financial risks. It may be some time before it starts to repay its costs. Do you have the resources to support its development? Grants are sometimes available to assist you but they take time to arrange and are by no means certain. Think about quality. It s no longer good enough to simply meet your customers expectations you should aim to exceed them. You may be surprised but increasing your quality nearly always reduces your costs. Look for help, especially when you are struggling... The planning and development of a new product is a serious undertaking with no guarantee of success. In fact, most new product introductions are sadly expected to fail. Statistics presented by the Manufacturing Advisory Service suggest that in the UK only 7% of new products are a commercial success. Comparable figures for the USA and Japan are 20% and 45% respectively. There is no shortage of creative talent in the UK and these figures demonstrate what is possible when companies have effective New Product strategies and processes. These can be easily introduced with professional help. When you start to create and think about your project, you will be convinced that it will be a success. A major difficulty is knowing the right time to be self-critical. This is another area where it can be valuable to use an expert in the development process. He will ask searching questions to ensure that you are focussed on the needs of your potential markets. When you are planning to enter a new market you may find it difficult to research it and identify target customers. Product development specialists will have the expertise and contacts to assist you.

3 When you are unfamiliar with the processes of product development it is essential to seek the advice and help of an expert who understands the whole business process. He can review your company, the business environment that it inhabits and will make sure that planning is complete. He will also identify financial requirements and possible sources of funding to ensure that your business is not put at risk. New products and processes always involve dealing with change. It s important to prepare your staff in time so that any organisation and training requirements can be addressed. Don t get too close to the product... When you re involved in the planning process and making rapid progress with the development, it can be hard to stay focussed on anything other than the product. To ensure that your business doesn t suffer, allow enough time to develop and launch the product. You re trying to manage activities where the outcome isn t certain and some of your testing may not provide the results you wanted. The work will nearly always take longer than expected and you have to allow for this. Eagerness is great when you are looking to move your business forward but be aware of the dangers. If you are too keen to get into production, you are likely to miss out vital stages of the development or even neglect the rest of your business. The other danger of getting too close is that you won t be satisfied. While being creative and innovative is positive, many people don t know where to stop development process. The result is added costs and delays possibly even missing the market window altogether. The time has to come when you declare the product to be finished. To quote one of my clients : We re finished now; time to shoot the engineer. Spending time on your product is good; you have to be involved but it can be very cost-effective to also spend some time with a product development expert. He will keep you on track and will act as an outsider to the project; someone who will alert you to potential problems and help you to consider your options. Most importantly, he will help you to recognise when something is not likely to be a success before you ve committed too many resources. Refusing to admit this situation, with the exception of poor planning, is the most common and expensive mistake that I ve seen. Small teams of technical experts that have been together for a long time often find it difficult to see answers that are outside their experience. I always advise that, if answers aren t obvious, it s best to include a couple of outsiders in the discussions. Even if they only come from other departments in your company they will offer useful insights. Again, a product development specialist can help you to run effective problem-solving sessions. Don t do more than you can afford or cope with... When you begin to work on the planning of your new product, there is always a sense of excitement, and quite rightly so. This could be the thing that puts your business on the map but only if you plan the work and don t exceed your business and personal resources. It is easy to get carried away with the project and neglect other less exciting areas of your business. The most important thing you can do to prevent this is to allow enough time to be able to focus on the product and its development as well as your business. This comes back to a realistic plan that takes account of all the demands on your limited resources.

4 Don t neglect the effect of the project on your personal resources, especially your health. It s amazing how much you can achieve when you re excited or have tight deadlines to meet. Remember though that too much stress for too long can leave you exhausted as well as affect your health. Your family will also be unlikely to share your enthusiasm. If you get too tired you will eventually become inefficient and start making mistakes. It needs self-discipline but allow time to rest. Don t under-estimate the marketing costs of your project or forget to include related costs such as training for your sales or production teams. Delays to the launch of your product can have an enormous effect on its final profits. Make sure that you know what delays will cost so that you can make informed decisions. In other words, don t spend your entire budget on the product development alone. Make sure that your plan includes all the costs to bring your product to market and keep it there. Don t rely on customers to tell you about problems... It s tempting to launch a new product without completely testing it. This is only acceptable for games software. In most cases it s an expensive mistake especially if it leads to customer complaints. In general, a problem that can be fixed for only 1 at the design stage will cost 10 if found during manufacture and 100 if found by a customer. If you plan properly and seek the advice of experienced professionals you can be confident that all the specifications and stages for the product and its development will be covered so that these problems can be avoided. If you have properly researched your target market, as I mentioned earlier, you will know how they are going to use your product. Use this information to address issues such as performance and quality. Think about involving trusted customers in the development. They will not only provide you with real-world evaluation of your prototypes but they will build relationships and commitment. However careful you are, you may still have negative feedback from some customers. It may go against your instincts but welcome it. The best marketing you can ever do is to recognise and deal with complaints to their satisfaction. Think about it if you don t deal with it they ll only tell everyone else. Finally... I hope you have found this report useful and it will help you avoid the common but costly mistakes that appear all too often when businesses are looking to develop and launch a new product. It is extremely important that you prepare and plan your product efficiently and take everything into consideration. Rather than struggle through the process there are occasions when you should seek the help and advice of experts in the development field to provide your product with the best chance of success. The development of a new product is an exciting time for you and your business. Success is by no means guaranteed and it is important that you look at ways you can manage the uncertainty. If you are actively looking for a product development expert right now, I d be delighted to help and support you through the process. Please contact me by ing or call

5 Yours, Paul Forsythe Managing Director Alemare Solutions About the author Paul Forsythe is the Director of Alemare Solutions Limited. He has more than 30 years experience of product and process development, mainly within the chemicals and composite moulding industries. During his career he has developed manufacturing processes and commissioned units in Europe, Asia and the USA. He has extensive experience of using easily understood techniques to analyse results in order to increase productivity and quality without increasing costs. He has also been responsible for a materials testing laboratory. Services included forensic examination of failed parts, researching international standards and piloting materials through the assessment process of regulatory agencies. He has presented papers to the Institute of Structural Engineers - relating test measurements to the real-world behaviour of composites. In 2006 he formed Alemare Solutions to help small companies to manage the unique problems and risks involved in the development and introduction of new products. Paul is a member of the Institute of Consulting, the Chemical & Industrial Consultants Association and the University of Bedfordshire Knowledge Hub. He holds a Diploma in Business Support to High Growth Companies and contributes articles to the American Innovation Tools website. About Alemare Solutions Alemare Solutions was formed in 2006 as a unique consultancy that specialises in systematic inventive problem solving. It takes the approach that creativity and problem-solving ability are not gifts, but skills that can be learned and applied to business situations. Turning ideas into products, however, also requires management to address uncomfortable choices involving strategy, risk and resources. Alemare stresses the importance of robust product development to optimise performance and reliability in order to minimise costs. It is unshakeable in its belief that a project that aims to reduce costs without improving quality will not be a commercial success.

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