Have you been part of a new Product Launch?

Inspired by overwhelming response on our blogs, we decided to share some things about product launch processes as it relates to the supply chain in the electrical industry. Sure, your situation could be unique…

First question is – who in the heck launches products in a big manufacturing company for consumption to their trading partners?. Well, not tied to 1-one individual. Think of a consortium of Product Managers, Engineers, Plant Managers, Master Schedulers, Finance Controllers, Analysts, and finally Customer Service.

Yes, believe it or not customer service is a major component. No wonder why some companies do not do well in the long run when doing cost cutting and outsourcing their customer service.

These are some high level steps to consider to get basic data for stocked and non-stocked products for Trading Partner’s consumption when a new product is launched.

Step 1: Product Managers coordinates team consisting of Customer Service, Engineering, Manufacturing Managers, Finance Controller/Analyst, Master Scheduler, Plant personals and Product Information in light of a product launch process

Step 2: Product Management contacts Customer Service and requests that a product be profiled and loaded into their Legacy or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system – homegrown or store bought!
Customer Service is supplied with all the required information to load product profiles into such a system

Step 3: Customer Service uploads these to ERP to create the product profiles. Profiles are initially coded with a specific indicator also called Authorization code to differentiate a product being launched OR a product that is already launched for sale. This also prevents trading partners ordering a yet-to-be-launched product erroneously. Example could be “XX” for products being launched and “YY” for previously launched products and ready for receiving order.

Step 4: After product profiles are loaded into ERP system, generally it takes a certain amount of time to further create its GTIN, commercial reference, SKU, catalog number or part number in the repository. Have you ever searched for a part number in Amazon to see whether you need a replacement?

Step 5: Customer Service advises product launch team when products are loaded and available in the system with a marker “XX”

Step 6: Product Launch team then works with several people in the company:
a) Create or determine whether a product is going to be a standard product or a configured product based on forecasting data
b) Engineering to create Bill of Materials (BOM), Routing and Revision (Versioning). Once completed then Costing is determined in order to release in the ERP system
c) For Stocked products, a workflow is needed and created. Separate templates are invoked for legacy and ERP systems that are required by manufacturing plants to fill out including ordering information. Again, working with Customer Service
d) Warehouse team sets up products to be stocked in specific location or distribution centers
e) Product Information team fills in the blank for certain Industry specific information such as United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) depending on the product line, provide marketing materials and specific trading partner desired data points

Step 7: When the information about product is completed then marketing contacts Customer Service to change the XX indicator to YY in order to designate the products are now release for sale

Step 8: Product Launch team now archives the entire process with data in a secured repository or a content management system for legal and record retention

The big question is how long it generally takes? Again, it depends.

Let’s say all of the above steps are done in a timely manner. How long it takes AFTER to have these products in trading partner’s lap? Well, in most well-oiled manufacturing companies this process takes several weeks if not months. Again after getting all the data accumulated by the Product Launch Team.

However, dataZen Engineering guarantees the data to be in trading partners lap within 2-Two weeks from the date the data is accumulated following our Legendary Quality Assurance processes supporting the entire end-to-end data flow.

An example of data points:

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