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Product Verification Build – NPI in Seven Steps

Product Verification is part six of our New Product Introduction series. If you missed the previous posts and want to get caught up, start with the introduction post.

At this stage of the New Product Introduction process, your manufacturer has built small, hands-on runs of your product. They have put their best team on the lines, and probably had a high level of oversight at every step.

This has made for very expensive units, probably twice as much as you were expecting. But as described in the Design Verification stage, it was all investment in making sure that everything would run smoothly once the crank started turning.

Product Verification - New Product Introduction

Product Verification Build

And that cranks is beginning to wind up. The Product Verification build (or just PV) is much like a mini-production run. In fact, the PV is a practice run before releasing the production flood.

This means that what you receive from this build is a product that could, in theory, be placed on a store shelf. As we dive in, we will find that while you could sell these units, they will provide valuable to your manufacturer and your company.

What Your Manufacturing Is Doing

When full production starts, the manufacturer wants to be able to throw anybody trained with their procedures on the line and potentially crank out your product 24/7. To do this, they will be pulling back their A-Team and allow the shift line workers to run through the full process themselves.

Switching in the line workers makes sure all the process documentation is entirely clear, and any delays in the procedure are resolved. By bringing in new eyes to the process, they can ensure any assumptions are cleared up with documentation and every step is clear and efficient.

But this run is still limited to a specific number of units – perhaps a few thousand. The number is usually set by how many would build in a single batch or fill a pallet. Again, this provides practices for both the manufacturer’s shipment department, but also your logistics group as it prepares to handle the new inventory.

What to do with the PV Units

Engineering and operations will take a random sampling to ensure everything was built correctly, marketing and sales will take some to give to insiders, and others will be handed out to employees, friends, and family to check out before releasing to the public.

It is perhaps this friends and family group that will provide the most benefit to the company as they may be the first customer-like people to interact with the product. Having this larger group of people interact with the product and maybe with the larger system as a whole your team could work out more bugs and features that could be fixed before full production runs.

Giving the OK

Until your team gives the OK, the manufacturer will be waiting. They will review how the process went on the line and true-up any difference in costs, but they will mostly be waiting to charge ahead.

This is a bit of a scary point as an engineer. Until now, the product lived in the lab or given to ‘safe’ people. This is the last chance to make any changes before it becomes ‘real.’

But unless there is something that absolutely must be modified, nothing should be touched. Not only are changes going to be extremely expensive at this point, but everyone involved (and it’s a lot of people at this point) are anxious to move forward – and causing a step backward will not be looked at favorably.

So if you want to tweak something, just a bit more, forget it and accept that this version of the product won’t be perfect.

Product Verification Result

At the end of the PV build your team will have hundreds or even thousands of product ready devices to hand out, test, or give back to the operations team to sell.

Your manufacturer will have worked out final procedures and costing for each device.

We could even consider this point the end of the New Product Introduction process as the only thing left is to move into full production, but as we will see in the next post, there is still some work to complete before printing the money.