Posted by Jacopo Colombo on Jun 8, 2020

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Modern product development processes differ from firm to firm, but each follows the same basic outline and shares similar characteristics. Above all, what distinguishes the old methods from modern product development processes is the introduction of a single source of truth via digital transformation.

Below are the five steps to a modern product development process and the benefits of adopting product lifecycle management (PLM) software as the backbone of that process.

Step 1: Idea generation

The idea generation phase is unique to each company, but the goal of improving this process is always the same: faster innovation. That's especially true for formula-based products (to which Devex, Selerant's PLM solution, caters), which rely on speedy innovations to respond to changes in consumer behavior.

The idea generation process is "fuzzy" in that it often falls outside of any formal process, which tends to lead to idea generation being left out of the larger digital transformation. That's a missed opportunity. According to Nielsen, 85 percent of new products fail, and the Harvard Business Review points to lack of preparation as the culprit. If idea generation begins with answering—and crucially, documenting and scoring—new ideas, downstream processes tend to go much smoother for the simple fact that those processes were taken into account from the outset.

PLM won't "do our jobs for us or come up with ideas for us," as one Devex customer stated at the Selerant user conference, "but it will give us the rails to do it in a systemized way.”

Step 2: Screening

In formula-based product pipelines, screening ideas often involves a regular project approval meeting where bad ideas are discarded and good ideas make their way to the R&D and product teams.

In many cases, that means creating spreadsheets or databases for each new project, which also creates data silos and stifles collaboration. It also hinders innovation in the long run. Reformulating existing products in this scenario means starting from scratch. By digitizing the process and creating a single source of truth, manufacturers get a bird's eye view of ingredient details across the entire product portfolio, making it easy to reformulate existing products and get new products on shelves faster.

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As another Selerant user conference presenter put it:

“As much as innovation is about new ideas, it’s about using your resources most efficiently. You want to deliver the best product to your customers while manufacturing it in an economical way. It’s important to bring your best ideas to the fore, but just as important to kill your bad ideas sooner.”

Step 3: Concept development and testing

Once an idea gets through the screening process, it needs to be tested for viability (this may also include a separate but adjacent marketing development phase). This is where Devex shines. Devex can perform real-time simulations of "what-if" scenarios—purely digital experiments to rapidly test, model, and execute various scenarios.

Built-in machine learning and AI capabilities predict performance, and an interactive, web-based editor provides the ability to tweak the formula and instantly see the impact of the adjustment.

Step 4: Product development

With a modern product development process powered by PLM in place, product developers gain instant visibility into ingredients that are in the product portfolio. They can then integrate those ingredients instantly in new formulas.

PLM also integrates enterprise resource planning (ERP) software data directly into the product lifecycle, which ties accounting processes to product development. Product approvers and reviewers can also be notified automatically when they're needed. PLM ensures that every stage of the product development process is documented, and that that information is available to every department, at every step of the product development process.

Step 5: Commercialization

Assuming the product development phase went well, commercialization can then commence. At this stage, Product teams using Devex can create a label in a single step, or instantly copy new formulas into multiple versions to adhere to various regional manufacturing requirements. All in all, 82 percent of Devex users improved their labeling and commercialization process by 41 to 60 percent.

There are many other benefits to developing a modern product development process through digital transformation—creating a global, searchable database, for example, or simply standardizing the process so there's no confusion as to who does what. Ultimately, the benefits are the same as any process that replaces a siloed, fragmented process with a streamlined, digital equivalent, as another Selerant user conference presenter explained:

“We had a lot of extraneous systems and when we consolidated 19 systems into Devex, there were people on the team who worked through product development who had never met each other. Now, there’s significantly enhanced collaboration - less meetings, fewer emails. It helped us institute a governance process in an organic way. We’re getting products out faster with far fewer mistakes.”

Topics: Product Lifecycle Management, Product Portfolio Management, Supplier Relationship Management, Product Formulation & Recipe Management, Blog