The introduction of any new product line is an exciting prospect. Yet, it’s also important to recognize not everything will run as perfectly as you’d like. There will certainly be elements outside of your control causing bumps in the road. The most common among these are issues with the supply chain. After all, a launch often relies on businesses separate from your enterprise.
We’re going to take a moment to run down a few elements to focus on to reduce the potential for supply chain delays.
You need to put some effort into supply chain disaster preparedness. This begins with an examination of your current launch plans. Any successful product launch requires a thorough checklist to make sure neither you nor your staff can overlook any aspect of the process. This isn’t just useful for a step-by-step roadmap to reach your end goal practically. It can also reveal hurdles. Review your checklist specifically to identify what processes rely on elements of the supply chain. This might include pre-orders that need same-day shipping to get to loyal consumers early. It could be receiving sufficient raw materials to cope with expected demand.
Once you’ve identified areas reliant on the supply chain, you need to get your team on board for planning backups and mitigation. While you may have experience in pulling off successful product launches, it is wise to obtain perspectives from professionals with different areas of expertise. They may raise supply chain problems you hadn’t previously considered. Wherever possible, you should also involve your suppliers in this. A recent study found companies involved their supply chain in launch planning less than 65 percent of the time. This is a huge mistake as they have insights to reduce the prospect of delays well in advance.
Focus on the data
You need to consider artificial intelligence (AI) a practical tool at your disposal. Utilizing a smart procurement platform can be instrumental in using industry data to identify the most appropriate suppliers in each part of the chain in the first place. By analyzing information about each company’s success rates, prior delays, and quality of service, these platforms can give you insights into the most appropriate partners to bring to the launch.
This relationship with data can also impact your confidence in the project and how you respond to problems. It is not uncommon for fear of failure to corrupt decision-making, especially in the lead up to a launch, with an overly safe attitude preventing you from truly innovating. Indeed, it can even disrupt an accurate analysis of the data at your disposal. You need to be seeking out and embracing the data that has shown failure is possible and has even occurred in past launches. Use this knowledge to inform your approach to highlight points of concern and strengthen your supply chain in relevant areas. This can give you the confidence not only to respond effectively but take well-informed risks along the way.
Great communication is a lifeline to reduce delays during a product launch. One of the reasons Covid-19 was so disruptive to supply chains was poor collaborative communication. You need to start setting communication standards and expectations as early as possible during launch planning.
Set up meetings with each of your providers in the chain and formalize communications protocols. Discuss the frequencies with which you’ll be checking in with one another along the way. Solidify the communication methods you’ll use for different scenarios and who the principal contacts will be for each. Most importantly, start to develop a culture of openness with each other. Don’t be afraid to talk about mistakes your company has made in past launches. This can set a tone of authenticity and trust in your relationship with each other going forward.
The success of your new product launch can be reliant upon an effective supply chain. To reduce the prospect of delays, you should take a collaborative approach to your planning. Don’t ignore how valuable data can be in selecting suppliers and giving you the confidence to take risks, either. Remember, a solid approach to communication keeps everyone in the loop and builds relationships to help mitigate issues well in advance. This can add extra steps to what is already a complex process for you, but it can positively impact the success of your launch.