NPI is a term taken from the manufacturing industry and can be implied to software development.
As a Senior NPI Product Manager, you are responsible for overseeing the New Product Introduction (NPI) process from start to finish. This includes creating a plan to take the software from concept to market, managing a team of experts to track progress, and performing frequent assessments at different stages to ensure the project is moving in the right direction. You will also need to manage the product concept itself and oversee each step between the design stage and the version integrations in the market.
The NPI process consists of eight stages to be followed for a software product to be launched smoothly.
The first stage is to solidify the plan. Product concept/Design/Specifications This entails putting together an NPI team(define ahead of the pigs and chickens), identifying resources and requirements to complete the product concept, setting deadlines and clear expectations, and defining team roles. Define SLAs between the inner departments for all to know when and how they will need to respond while working together on the project. Communication is the first tool for success. If the communication is lagging make sure to talk it through with all the stakeholders and make it work ahead of time. All participants should eager to make this project a success. One weak link can break the whole way to your so desirable delivery.
This stage involves creating BRDs, PRDs, and MRDS, and then modeling the concept in design software, creating a process flow diagram or workflow for every stage of software development.
The second stage is to determine feasibility. Evaluating the design concept and marketability, and having the NPI team evaluate whether they should move forward(a “go/no-go” junction). At this stage, the NPI Product manager will again run all the stakeholders through the final planning outputs and make sure that there are no holes in the planning. The final designs and planning are broken into Epics, Features, and User stories by the Regular Product manager.
The third stage is to get ready to develop the software product. Prototyping (product design & Development) This involves creating and evaluating working prototypes of the software design, testing the prototypes with beta users as needed, and setting up and evaluating the development environment. We can insert the features iteratively sometimes(not atomic features with no rollback options), without developing the whole “shebang” we planned for the product, and then completing additional functionality as we go. During those stages, it is crucial to gather feedback from the customers by using quantitative data analysis(KPIs and key metrics), customer support feedback, and depth interviews with beta-group volunteers. Very important to try not to change the PRDs and design as we go. If the time to delivery is short and the change is not critical – leave it for the next iteration. Whatever is written in the User story – that’s the only thing that should be done by the developers. If the description is lacking and inaccurate – the outcome will be the same. As a Regular Product Manager, you are responsible for the content of the User stories. As an NPI Product Manager, you are responsible for an overview of all the red flags about inaccuracy in the design or products provided to the engineering teams.
The fourth stage is to run a software pre-production test. This calls for a “most” final engineering and design freeze, allowing the QA department to verify the functionality of the product based on the Specs – User stories, and Final Design. All the resolved items are moved into the tested status. After the User Stories are tested, the Regular Product Manager overviews the Features’ content and switches to tested status as well. The NPI Product Manager also needs to make sure that the hardware supporting the software is fit, and that the product is reliable by adding special performance tests for the QA and all other aspects of the lifecycle of the product to take under consideration before the deployment.
The fifth stage is to release the product to the market to a beta group. This involves actually deploying the test environment to the production environment. Make sure all the end cases are handled before, check again all the legal aspects, and the final version smooth running. Sometimes it’s better to delay a deployment than ruin your brand reputation. Be ready with the marketing campaigns and run them before the release creating anticipation, include the measurements of the product in the previous implementation to get clear proof for the hypothesis you built along the way, and activate them over and over to understand where you can improve the product. Make sure your beta group is happy with the product before releasing it further on.
The sixth stage is to evaluate the results. This involves evaluating how the NPI process went and making notes on areas of improvement for the next software production run. This is like a retrospective for the whole process of release and deployment that is meant to make you better the next time.
The seventh stage is to release to the masses. This is a scale-out of the product that should be planned ahead of time including considerations of the cloud/hardware costs, bandwidth costs, and ability of the software to be scaled out when needed. It should be inserted from the start into the PRDs.
The eighth stage is to re-evaluate the results. As in stage sixth, after the math release, we need to get the KPIs and re-evaluate constantly the outcome of the integrated product, update the strategy of marketing and iterate over the product to improve the user journey and conversions of the product.
Overall, a Senior NPI Product Manager plays a crucial role in ensuring the successful launch of a software product. It is their responsibility to manage a team of experts and oversee each step of the NPI process from start to finish. With their help, a software product can be successfully launched on the market and customers can enjoy its benefits.
The NPI is the process of bringing innovative products and services to market.
Basically, it’s a checklist of to-do for things to go to production smoothly and have control over the process.
Of course, it saves money and time if you plan ahead the right way and manage deviations as you go.
There is a difference between the New Product Introduction (NPI) and New Product Development (NPD), as the first wrap up the second. It means that the NPI is sort of a wrap for the NPD process.
NPD will handle the roadmap, design planning, PRDs, timelines, and delivery, while NPI will check all the steps and add an additional layer of pre-planning, on-the-run testing of the progress, and post-delivery testing of the product to insure all will go well.
In the Israeli startup industry, there is no clear division between the two. As a product manager, you will need to identify all of the parts to make things happen, manage the scope and make the delivery happen. In big US companies, they have NPI Product managers that are responsible to make that specific connectivity between the departments to make things go smoothly.