With everything going on right now, people are looking for solutions—especially fast solutions. One company we heard about is developing a ventilator than can handle more than one patient at a time. Another company is converting its consumer market virtual reality (VR) head gear disinfecting device to handle medical masks and shields, disinfecting them in less than 60 seconds. And those are only a couple of the products we know about.
It’s a pretty safe guess that companies all over the U.S.—as well as all over the world—are working at warp speed to develop and produce get them out into the marketplace. There has never been a time when the phrase “a matter of life and death” has been so relevant.
Thinking about this, and because this is the segment of the business that I’m in, made me realize that it could be helpful to develop these guidelines for how to get your product to market as rapidly as possible. Here are 10 guidelines for working with your NPI supplier to make sure that you get your new, innovative, and in some cases, life-saving products to market quickly and efficiently.
1. Choose Your Vendor Partner Carefully
It’s preferable to work with a company that can do everything from design to fabrication to assembly. That way, with one transaction, you can get your product into the system rapidly and with the minimum amount of friction that comes with using multiple suppliers.
2. Rely on Your Supplier for Design and Engineering Advice
Your supplier knows more than you do about their technologies and process limitations. Listen to them and use their advice when it comes to everything from your product design to component selection.
3. Trust the System
If you don’t have a supplier you can trust, then get another supplier. This is key because you are putting the success of your product and the ultimate success of your company into someone else’s hands. This relationship has to be based on trust, reliability, credibility, flexibility, and in some cases, generosity. Make sure that it is.
4. Work in Partnership With Your Supplier
A true partnership is going to need to exist if you are going to have a successful and productive relationship with your supplier. Sure, you will sign NDAs, and that’s important, but the trusting relationship you need to have with your supplier has to extend far beyond that. You have to both share a common goal of bringing your product to market, quickly, efficiently, and economically if you are both going to succeed.
5. Confidentially Is Key
There is no time when discretion and confidentiality are more important than when you are developing a new and innovative product. You have to trust implicitly that your supplier will not tell others about your new product—or worse yet, copy it for their own uses!
6. Buy Local
You must know where your products are being built. You have to be able to visit the vendor and make sure that everything is okay with the process, the technology, and the attitude of the company. (I know that is not possible right now in person, but you can still use Zoom or Microsoft Teams to check on your suppliers and products.)
7. Keep Up the Pace
If you want your products to be produced rapidly, then it is up to you to make sure that you do everything possible to “grease the skids.” If your vendor has a question, answer them as quickly as possible. The last thing you want is to slow your vendors down. They are going as fast as possible on your behalf, so don’t be the one slowing things down.
8. Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate Some More
Especially in these times when we cannot be in the same place at the same time, phone calls, virtual meetings, texting, and emailing are more important now than ever. Be clear and concise in your communications. When it comes to fast time to market, miscommunication can set a project back for weeks, if not months. Make sure that you and your supplier are always on the same wavelength.
9. Make Sure Your End-Product Is Absolutely Perfect
Between you and your trusted supplier, you have to be sure that the product you introduce to the market is as near perfect as possible. This is your audition. This is your one time to create a great impression, and if there is a flaw or something wrong with your end-product, it could hurt if not fatally injure the project.
10. Share the Vision
Don’t be reticent to share the big picture with your supplier. They have to know your vision, mission, and goals. They must have a clear understanding of what your product is going into and how it can and will change the world, making it a better place.
In the meantime, stay safe and healthy until we can all meet in person again someday.
Imran Valiani is an account manager at Rush PCB.