Your team has pushed hard to get a successful product launch. There is intense focus on Sales & Marketing to take the ball now to close on ever greater numbers of sales. There is nothing like being ‘out-of-stock’ to put a crimp in your sales momentum. With a little bit of post-launch effort, the risk of this happening can be minimized.
- Assemble a team made up of some of the technical people from your product development team, someone from Operations and a product manager.
- This team will initially be tasked with the following:
- For Consumables – Identify all critical raw materials. These are key components like antibodies or other biologicals or chemicals that are critical for the proper functioning of your kit or reagent.
- For Instrumentation – Identify components with particularly long lead times.
For consumables, pay especially careful attention to sole suppliers of a critical raw material. What would happen if this company went out of business or decided to discontinue the product? Alternatively, what would happen to your business if they doubled the price of this component?
Use Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) to help you and your team assess not only impact of what delays in instrument components or loss of a source for a key reagent would have but also how likely it would be for that to happen. This will allow you to compile a prioritized list with the biggest risks to your business at the top.
- For Consumables – Have the technical team find an alternate source for the critical raw material. This alternate source might be more expensive but it is much better to have a validated alternative source than to run out of it when your demand is growing.
- For Instrumentation – Make sure that your agreement with component suppliers include options for rush shipments. Find out what the lead times and additional costs are for this. With good Sales forecasting you should not need to exercise this option but it is good to have this in place (just in case). Consider keeping some additional inventory of critical components to buffer risk.
You cannot eliminate all of these risks to your business but it is far better to know what they are and have contingency plans in place in the (hopefully) unlikely event that some of them come to pass. Remember that some of these risks can be mitigated by solutions provided by your technical team and others using business tactics.