Finding Success Through Virtual NPD StrategiesSuccess in implementing virtual teams for a new product development project often requires more focus on the processes and people, rather than the technology involved. The benefit of achieving a successful virtual team can mean a reduced time-to-market for new products or changes to existing products;
- access to a larger
- more international knowledge hub
- and greater agility and flexibility.
Virtual NPD StrategiesA Virtual NPD approach will be of particular importance to companies with shorter product life cycles. In cases where it is necessary to quickly and safely develop new products and stay ahead of the competition. The pressure of globalisation makes this more difficult. But you can also use this to your advantage by collaborating with external teams who can offer international know-how and experience to elevate your product in its chosen market(s). We need to move away from the more traditional NPD approach and towards a more integrated and innovative way of working. Virtual environments can more easily support this outlook and offer a flexible and agile infrastructure. Adopting a virtual NPD approach can also often lead to increased customer involvement as it takes away the need for many different teams, departments and/or customers to travel for meetings and is easier to find a common time to suit everyone involved. Less travel and commute time also results in a lower carbon footprint which may help many companies reach certain environmental goals. iNewtrition has been working remotely on virtual NPD projects and Innovation Workshops since before Covid began and we have been able to finetune that experience with each customer and project we have had the pleasure of working with so far. In that time, we have been able to help our clients achieve big wins. For example, we helped an FMCG multinational launch a plant-based yoghurt with a clean label, worked with an SME in optimising their formulation and process parameters of a plant-based soy drink with functional ingredients, and also helped improve the organoleptic properties of a new vegan spread for a start-up.
How To Implement a Successful Virtual NPD ProcessWhen looking to implement an effective virtual NPD process, there are three main areas to consider:
- Ensure that everyone involved fully understands the company’s overall strategy. From its product range and competitors to its strengths and weaknesses, and distribution network.
- Knowledge of the technology and know-how needed to produce the product is essential.
- An understanding of current consumer needs and habits is also vital. So as to ensure a truly consumer-centric focus when developing products for your target market.
Project LeadIt can be helpful for NPD projects to assign only one person to lead the project from the beginning, whether internal or external. That way, they can oversee all decisions being made and you can avoid duplication of work or time spent on certain tasks. When I work with clients on projects like this, they have often expressed their appreciation for only having one person to go to with any questions, queries or ideas. This time spent can be the difference between a successful and quick product launch, and one that is continuously delayed. Even 5 hours a month can make a difference to your project. Some examples of tasks that we can work on within this time frame could be:
– Initiate a business strategy or feasibility study to examine gaps and opportunities in your project, predict potential challenges, and develop an understanding of your audience/market.
– Carry out a product design analysis to develop a sensory profile or signature.
– Proof of concept and value proposition development.
– Project management with key accountabilities, timelines, and review for the project.
Image: example of an NPD process at iNewtrition optimised for innovationThese are just a few suggestions and would all be tied in with more advanced technical knowledge and insights from myself and relevant experts at iNewtrition.
Key takeawaysNPD projects, whether traditional or virtual, are not without their complications and challenges, largely due to the quantity of people involved throughout the entire process. However, Virtual NPD projects will be here to stay for the foreseeable future. So it is in our best interest to work on adapting our internal procedures. And leverage new technologies and ways of working to suit a more virtual environment. So we can continue to launch successful food and beverage products, despite the challenges we face today. The key is to work with someone who has been through the process before, ideally multiple times, and can foresee the most common challenges and share personalised solutions with you in order to successfully navigate these challenges. If you are looking to co-manufacture or implement virtual NPD strategies in the most efficient and cost-effective way for your brand, email [email protected] and we can discuss in more detail how this might look. – Raphaelle ————————————————————————————————————————— iNewtrition is an Innovation as a Service (IaaS) agency for the functional food & beverage, and health & wellness industries. We provide agile customer solutions, end-to-end support, or can simply help you overcome specific bottlenecks to fast track innovation and product development. The services and expertise we offer are on-demand and available to you instantly via our online booking platform. Our skills combined cover every step of your innovation journey, from feasibility study, product design or development, to post-launch scale-up. Contact Raphaelle at [email protected] to start your journey.
-  Research Gate, 2009. Virtual Teams for NPD: An Innovative Experience for R&D Engineers.
-  MDPI, 2020. An Overview of Current Challenges in New Food Product Development.
-  FI Global, 2020. New product development in a COVID-restricted world.