Ensuring that your NPD stage gate process is adaptable & scalable
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”
I am not sure that this is the best quote to be using in the context of food and drink NPD as we all have those nightmares of our product being the one that the errant mouse ends up in, to much popular media delight.
But it does sum up the challenge that many have when their carefully thought out stage gate process comes into contact with the day to day reality of dealing with customers, suppliers, partners and internal colleagues.
This best practice tip is to ensure that your stage gate process is adaptable and scalable.
What do I mean by adaptable?
There will be steps in your stage gate process that than can be removed on a project by project basis, therefore remove them as it is a waste of valuable resources completing tasks that are unnecessary on a specific project. What I do recommend is to provide a clear justification why the step has been removed as what is obvious today may be less obvious in 6 months time when you are under audit or the proverbial has hit the fan.
An example would be if you had a step to do transit trials on every launch but if the launch you are currently working on is identical to an existing product which has already had transit trials completed, and the product has been on sale for a period of time with no customer complaints indicating that damage during transit is an issue. Then it may be possible to take this step out. But please provide extensive justification.
Conversely there may be a requirement to add in steps which you wouldn’t normally follow. This can be very pertinent around areas such as supplier or raw material approval. Your NPD process may not include a vulnerability assessment stage but if you are introducing a new product for which you are making extensive provenance claims which you have not made historically then it is wise to add some steps to the NPD process on this launch.
The QADEX product launch manager is adaptable and you can remove or add steps, in a controlled fashion of course, at any point during a launch with everyone who is involved in the launch being automatically updated. The result is launches that are delivered faster, better and together as a team in partnership with happy customers.
What do I mean by scalable?
Not all launches are the same size or complexity. So how can you operate with a single size fits all stage gate process?
You are not always able to have the ideal timeframe as defined by your stage gate process to deliver a launch, therefore how can you work with a stage gate process that states x weeks from start to end to deliver a launch?
My best practice recommendation is to have a scalable stage gate process.
What does this look like.
There should be different stage gate processes to reflect the reality that you are facing on each particular launch.
So for example if you are delivering own label NPD for a customer and the ideal stage gate process is expected to take 16 weeks but you are regularly having to launch products with shorter timescales then I recommend you have a number of stage gate processes to reflect these scenarios.
So you might have the following:
- 15 week process
- 14 week process
- 13 week process
- 12 week process
This enables you and your colleagues to sit down and revise the stage gate process to reflect the shortened timescales and plan for where time is saved by removing steps or shortening timescales for steps.
While removing steps or shortening timescales for the completion of steps is not ideal, you are at least doing it in a planned and well considered manner rather than rushing when under the pressure of an actual launch and missing steps or putting members of your team under immense pressure.
The QADEX product launch manager allows you to pre-define stage gate processes for shortened timescales and select the most appropriate template to use on a launch by launch basis. The result is a massive reduction in pressure for all team members and happier customers.
If you would like to find out more about how this works give us a shout.