4 Ways Digitizing R&D Drives Better Product Development

Posted on 
April 27, 2021
Adam Armstrong
VP, Customer Success

When it comes to making a new product, there are tradeoffs between speed, quality, and innovation. A successful product development cycle is no small feat, especially in today’s world, where collaboration is critical and consumer demands are increasing.

So how do you successfully collaborate with supply chain stakeholders during product development?

The answer: strong research and development backed by data. New technologies like Specification Management software are enabling companies to digitize their product development process to go faster and drive innovation. Product development is the process that comes out of preliminary phases of research, i.e. you need a solid research and development phase to get the most out of the product development cycle to follow.

A colleague here at Specright says it best, “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” And this could not ring truer than in product development environments.That’s why professionals are investing in research and development (R&D) and using data to drive efficiency during product development cycles.Here’s 4 ways digitizing R&D enables better product development and speed as a competitive advantage.

1. Increase Speed-to-Market With Historical Product Insights

Basic research no longer cuts it when it comes to generating the best new ideas. Oftentimes, your next great idea may be hiding in plain sight.During the research and ideation phases of product development, engineers go through a lot of design iterations and prototyping. While most companies use focus groups and market research, few analyze what’s been done before.

Having a system to capture historical data on product research and development is critical - professionals need visibility into what works and what doesn’t (and what’s been done before). This also enables teams to move quickly by iterating on existing products or current products. By digitizing research and development, companies can get a competitive edge by testing different ideas in a controlled environment, rather than beginning the product lifecycle and realizing the design doesn't work or the cost is too great, which leads us to our next best practice.

2. Weed Out the Impossible by Conducting Feasibility Analysis

Product development is expensive, and product line extensions often fail, eating into profitability.

And nothing is worse than finding out a project isn’t feasible until it’s too late. This is an unfortunate reality, especially as companies try to increase variety and earn more market share, which leads to more specialized product components, expensive manufacturing processes, and as a result, less economies of scale. Determine market opportunity by understanding, for every component of a product: projected costs, estimated pricing, and revenue forecasts to ensure your product has a strong potential return on investment (ROI). This way, you can determine, in-house, whether or not to launch your product ideas before you’re in too deep.

3. Streamline Communication & Collaboration for New Product Development

As supply chain complexity has increased, so has product development complexity and the R&D activities required to bring a new product to market. No longer does the final product depend solely on customer needs and demands. Products today are influenced by sustainability goals, shipping and distribution, packaging, regulatory and compliance standards - and much more.

Further, each of those influences has their own set of departments or stakeholders responsible for making sure that their requirements are met - and the network of personas that make up the new product development cycle results in astronomical levels of data sharing. And this data sharing typically means hundreds or thousands of emails, PDFs, and phone calls. Digitizing research and development using technology like Specification Management software enables better collaboration for cross-functional teams. As new knowledge arises throughout the product lifecycle process, easily communicate updates across teams.

It’s important to collaborate early on to mitigate expensive changes to the product design down the line. To make a strong estimate of feasibility, innovation, market opportunity, and more the research and development department needs data from all stakeholders. Centralizing data from development activities helps close the loop on communication and makes for a more successful final product.

4. Digitize Critical Project Management Data

If it’s not measured, it’s not managed. Use data created during research and development to plan out your project and keep stakeholders on task.

With workflows and approvals tools, collaborate effectively across departments. No more endless email chains, sending around constantly changing information. Department-specific dashboards allow teams to take controlled ownership of tasks by giving approvals capabilities to decision makers.

Gain visibility into each step of the product development process and measure effectiveness with reporting features. View milestones, tasks, and know where bottlenecks occur and create efficiencies early on, saving time and growing profit.

Also, implement automatic alerts for consistent contact with internal and external stakeholders to keep the process moving, avoiding stagnation in the product development cycle.

Kickstart Your Product Development Cycle With Specright

Specright is the first purpose-built Specification Management platform, used by leading companies to support their R&D department, product development and packaging teams. It’s our mission to create software that enables product development and supply chain teams, their processes, and their operations to always have an accurate and unified view of all the data they need to bring products to market.

We built Specright so people can make things, easier. And that means managing product development from start to finish with a data-driven approach. Learn more about Specification Data Management and its impact on product development in our latest eBook or schedule a demo today.​


Adam Armstrong

As the VP of Customer Success at Specright, Adam has spent 8 years working directly with manufacturing, consumer goods, and supply chain leaders to drive a spec-first approach to managing packaging and product data. Adam serves as an adjunct professor for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's Masters in Packaging Value Chain program, and he previously worked in digital strategy and analytics for the National Football League and Brand Affinity Technologies. Adam holds a BA and MBA from the University of California Los Angeles.

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