Avoiding Failure To Launch

Jan. 12, 2008
D-M-E Co. uses a checklist to keep things moving smoothly.

It's a shame when a great product development effort gets overshadowed by a poor launch process. That's just the scenario D-M-E Co., a manufacturer of mold bases and components, is seeking to avoid with a checklist it has developed to keep all eyes focused on the details as well as on the big picture.

"When I think of launching a product, I think of a rocket taking off," says Craig Messerknecht, vice president of marketing and global product development. "In some cases we've kind of dribbled product out. So we've tried to do things to address that."

The checklist, which focuses primarily on marketing-related issues, helps the manufacturer "make sure we think about and do everything we need to think about and do," he says. "For instance, have we trained our inside salespeople? Have we trained our outside salespeople? Are we doing Web banners? Are we doing an e-mail blast? Are we doing print advertising? Have we done the packaging? Do we have the brochures laid out?"

Not everything on the checklist is relevant for every product, Messerknecht says, "but we developed this checklist to try to make sure that not only do we do everything, but that we do it in a timely, coordinated manner."

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Out to Launch
That means involving more people in the process from across the organization and doing so sooner in the product development process. Some of the tasks involved include such things as adding thousands of part numbers to the ERP system, pricing them and related activities, Messerknecht points out. "That's a lot of work. We're trying to communicate with people more so they know what's coming."
About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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