Tubelite’s Customer-Driven Product Development Process

Bethany Stough
January 16, 2017
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Tubelite developed the 900RW Ribbon Window using the New Product Introduction process.

Four years ago, Tubelite implemented the New Product Introduction program into its research and development process, and has been continually streamlining the process ever since. The program has revamped product development so that ideas from multiple input paths are more easily gathered, evaluated and prioritized simultaneously, Tubelite officials report.

“Once a project is activated it follows the new product introduction process. The result is a stage-gate process that consists of five phases from concept to post-launch review,” says Tim Fookes, director of engineering at Tubelite. “It is a process that emphasizes cross-functional participation in a multi-threaded, task management schedule.”

Previously, Tubelite relied on emails, phone calls or face-to-face notifications from the sales team, clients or internal employees to determine new development paths. “This method made it difficult to track and consolidate suggested ideas,” says Fookes.

Now, as part of the New Product Introduction process, Tubelite officials seek the voice of the customer, allowing clients in various regions to share their feedback on market opportunity and design concepts. This direct input has helped with the development of several new products, and launched new product lines.

Tubelite now receives the majority of its input from client development managers who are actively working with customers and responding to the needs in the market, according to Fookes. “The process assists in making sure all cross-functions are aligned and working in the same direction,” he says. “It minimizes the gaps in the actions needed to launch the product on time, as well as opens communication.”

The process has allowed Tubelite to work on multiple projects simultaneously and meet timelines, which results in a larger product offering, and more business for its customers, officials report.

Stough is managing editor for Glass Magazine, GlassMagazine.com and e-glass weekly. Write her at bstough@glass.org.