When was the last time you looked back?
Experience shows that Post-Launch Review (PLR) has a significant impact on New Product Development (NPD) performance, yet it is a weak area in the phased NPD process.
Even though PLR is a recognised best practice, many businesses lack the discipline to implement it and are learning very little from their experience in new development projects.
Why do you need to have PLR implemented?
The main purposes of a PLR are to ascertain whether the NPD project has achieved its intended objectives, to review the performance of project management activities, and to capture learning points for future improvements.
A PLR helps answer questions such as:
whether the NPD project was successful or not and for what reasons
to what extent the project has achieved its intended outcomes
to what extent the project has delivered its agreed outputs
what may be done to improve the current process or future projects
It is essentially a powerful internal learning process.
When the new product becomes a mainstream one, it is the right time to review and assess the project and the product’s performance. It is absolutely critical to discuss what went right, what went wrong, and what can be improved so that knowledge is captured and used as an input to the continuous improvement process. A PLR is conducted to capture all learnings, not just the things that have gone wrong with a project and PLR not only infuses accountability for results but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement.
When and by whom should the PLR be conducted?
The PLR can be conducted after the project closure to assess the full impact of the NPD project and identify improvement opportunities for future new product developments. It can be conducted when major issues are encountered to see if there is a need to modify the original project plan or the product, but also when an outstanding result is achieved so that best practices can be identified and then replicated within the organisation.
Should the review be conducted by the original NPD team or by an independent (internal or external) third party that was not involved in the project? Both options have advantages and disadvantages, so it may be appropriate to establish a review team comprising of a mix of independent parties and original project team members, with the independent parties (internal or external) taking a leading role in the review. It is important to understand that the time required for a robust PLR will depend very much on the complexity of the NPD project under review, the scope of the PLR and the availability of data.
Are you interested in improving your NPD performance through PLR?
If you have experienced or are amid a successful—or less successful—new product launch with significant costs, resources and impact, or if you want to use PLR to determine whether new NPD approaches should be continued, modified or adopted for wider application, we would be happy to share our practical PLR experience in innovative projects and provide support in using PLR to improve your NPD performance, foster your culture of continuous improvement, strengthen your current Quality & Food Safety Management System and bring value to your organisation.