New Product Introductions: Enhanced Processes for the Digital Age

Digital Transformation- New Product IntroductionIn the global, fast-changing world of electronics manufacturing, new products must be launched quickly and with exceptional quality if manufacturers expect to achieve a competitive advantage. At Molex, we’re focused on introducing innovative products with speed and agility while being vigilant about quality, cost and market risk.

When it comes to New Product Introductions (NPI), our mantra is “Get it right the first time.” While that’s easier said than done, Molex’s commitment to digital transformation is simplifying and strengthening our foundational capabilities from beginning to end. That’s why we’re approaching this as a team—stepping back to evaluate past successes, identifying areas of improvement, and collaborating on a course of action that will drive improved outcomes going forward.

Developing best practices, automated processes and state-of-the-art tools requires participation from every functional business area and a commitment to transform NPI, product development, manufacturing and operations. Our ability to get everyone engaged from the start is aided by  Organizational Change Management (OCM), which is helping us harmonize our efforts and orchestrate next steps.

People First, Then Processes 

“People don’t just want to hear the high-level vision,” explains Lisa Lanier, senior organizational change management lead at Molex.  “They want to know what’s in it for them. You have to win the hearts and minds of people very early on or you’ll lose them.”

Following this advice was easy, as we focused first on people, then processes and tools. Communicating the bigger vision and what this effort means for each team member is critical to getting everyone on board and helping cascade the efforts throughout the organization. To drive home the point, we created “Day in the Life” videos that showcase how digitizing NPI affects all functional areas. We’ve worked hard to connect the dots and explain how we can empower everyone to deliver higher levels of value-added services to our customers worldwide.

Socializing changes in the right ways leads to excitement and adoption across our organization, encompassing product development, manufacturing and operations teams. This means both experienced practitioners and newer engineers can see firsthand how change will make their lives easier, their work faster and the needs of customers better served.

Customer Relationships, Grounded in Trust

Another crucial prerequisite to faster and more effective product development is the ability to hear and fully understand the voice of the customer. To execute NPIs successfully, customer requirements must be grounded in what is feasible, which often emerges from candid give-and-take between supplier and customer. We make sure the right people are part of those conversations, so they can translate both the requirements—and proposed solutions—in terms that are universally understood and accepted. Working from a place of trust is imperative. Ensuring we always remain in tune with the pulse of our customers is vital to this strategy.

Today, Molex’s business engagements can span hundreds of distinct processes and tools, but our goal through digitization calls for integrating and consolidating what matters most into our overarching product development methodology. We have spent the better part of the past year examining and exploring each foundational layer to determine which technology and data assets are needed to supply the one source of truth for standard, harmonized processes and automated workflows.

OCM: the Glue to Ensure Digital Transformation Sticks

All our initial efforts have put Molex on a faster path to that one source of truth, which informs what’s most needed to drive better NPI outcomes. As excited as we are about these advancements, we know our customers will be the ultimate winners. They will be getting new products faster and gaining a competitive edge through innovation that will enable them to serve their end-customers more seamlessly.

Equally important, our OCM efforts will help sustain enthusiasm across Molex by continuing to validate the many ways we are aligned with our overarching vision for digital transformation. OCM is the glue that ensures our digital efforts stick. To that end, we’ve created a Transformation Network of about 70 people who meet twice a month to review messaging, discuss resistance to change across the company and strategize on how best to get the word out about where we’re headed and why it’s important for everyone.

The OCM team is currently expanding our “Day in the Life” video series to cover other aspects of Molex’s digitization efforts. Future videos will illustrate how training fits in, as well as quality management, NPI and other foundational areas of the business.

As we move forward, we will be defining, refining and transforming hundreds of processes. Our IT and technology teams will do the same with workflows while creating interfaces to enable digital transformation. We’re working on two primary value streams: a product development track for product development teams and a manufacturing operations track to encompass our global manufacturing facilities.

We are on schedule to launch acceptance testing pilots shortly, followed by a well-coordinated, global rollout of our newly improved NPI processes. I’m especially proud of Molex’s company-wide commitment—from the CEO to our manufacturing leadership and on down—to embracing this transformation. It is both a journey and a destination toward an improved customer experience, enriched employee engagement and global operational excellence.

Vice President Global Engineering