The faster a discrete manufacturer can develop and get new products into the market, the more able it is to generate new business and dominate its competitors. But any organization that’s attempted to concept, manufacture, and launch a new product knows it’s anything but simple. In fact, the process is complex, costs are great, risks are high, and success isn’t guaranteed.
Fortunately, there are tools available to help manage and expedite the process—and actually speed the process—ensuring that concepts are sound, dates are hit, compliance is met, and profitability is probable. One of the most robust is an enterprise resource management (ERP) solution.
The underlying advantage of an ERP system during the new product development and launch processes is that it offers visibility into the entire the organization, providing a comprehensive and integrated view of all aspects involved in manufacturing and selling a product—including the status of all activities in your supply chain. Consequently, you’re able to rely on data and insights as you pursue new product development, rather than on gut instinct and guesswork.
Here are the primary ways in which an ERP system optimizes the new product development process:
- Concept validation. If your new product doesn’t align with customers’ and prospects’ needs, you’ll have an expensive failure on your hands. An ERP system can be implemented with a CRM module capable of soliciting feedback during the concept stage. This can be a highly valuable step in which customers and prospects offer opinions of the concept’s strengths and weaknesses, their suggestions for improvements, their likelihood to buy, and more.
- Development. The design and manufacturing of your product must be planned in exhaustive detail, with decisions like vendor and material selection critical in both product performance and cost. ERP systems store historical data about suppliers, materials, costs, product and part performance, and more, all of which can be referenced as you identify the most appropriate components and contributors for the project. In addition, the ERP system provides data that allow you to minimize prototyping costs. This stage of the new product development process can be minimized in terms of both time and cost when you use insights from all prototype iterations to reduce trial and error, getting you to the best solution sooner.
- Scheduling. Integrated, real-time management of project goals, milestones, compliance requirements and all associated tasks makes the process far more efficient than monitoring, tracking and managing these things manually and separately. All information related to the product development and launch are reported into the ERP and can be leveraged to make the best decisions for development and launch. Program managers are able to spend their time identifying solutions instead of putting hours of clerical work into pulling the information they need from emails, files and conversations.
- Tracking expenses and predicting revenue. The costs that go into manufacturing a product aren’t easy to track—often steps and activities are missed when calculating its true cost. Using an ERP solution, the project team sees all time, labor and other costs involved in the process, from start to finish. With this information you can accurately pinpoint the price needed to ensure the right level of profitability.
- Ensuring accuracy. There are opportunities for error throughout the new product development process that have the potential to send the project off track and incur additional costs. Because an ERP system provides “one version of the truth,” every department and person using the system will be working with the same real-time data, reducing the likelihood of mistakes and miscommunication.
An ERP system is one of the most valuable business management assets, and it’s also key to a successful product launch. With the data and insights it provides, an ERP solution can help you get your product to market faster—and with greater confidence in the concept and cost.