The audiences we will be dealing with in our inter-department communications regarding the new product launch are highly diverse in terms of both educational backgrounds and technical aptitudes. We will be communicating with several distinct departments: Research and Development, Manufacturing, Sales and Marketing, Technical Support, Finance and Accounting, and Human Resources. As such, careful analysis of each audience is of the utmost importance as “One way to ensure that you know your target audience in business communications is to thoroughly research your audience beforehand.
This is typically important in business communications in which you may be providing a presentation to a group of people. Within an organization, you may need to research specific groups that you will be addressing” (Lewis, n.d.). The first proper step in effective technical communication is to recognize your audience’s needs, and research is the only proper way to accomplish this. There are two forms of information sources in such instances: Primary Research and Secondary Research.
“Primary research is research performed or generated by you” while with “secondary research, you rely on already printed and published information taken from sources including books, periodicals, newspapers, encyclopedias, reports, proposals, or other business documents” (Gerson and Gerson, 2016). Further, as these will be internal communications, secondary sources are likely to be sparse at best. When doing your research, I would recommend you make use of primary sources such as surveys or face-to-face meetings with department management and personnel, but I will provide more detail later in this document.
The Research and Development department is initial group we will discuss.
This first team is ultimately responsible for the development of the new product overall. However, as part of that they are also responsible for producing documentation that will be used by other teams to help sell or otherwise maintain the product. “Training is another important pre-launch key to success. Your customer service, support, sales, public relations, and marketing teams all need training around the product that can inform their conversations and written communications” (Ganguly, 2015). Thus, it is necessary that we communicate clearly and work closely with this department to work out how to best communicate the documentation they will produce and send to the other departments.
Preferably, this documentation should be kept concise and easily accessible to all levels of the company, as making different versions of the documentation on a per department basis is cumbersome at best. The second team in the department, Product Enhancement, is responsible for enhancing the product during and after the actual development of it as a company has “to continuously update their products to conform to current trends” (Adams, 2019). Thus this team must be kept abreast of the product’s intended use and its features so that they can perform technical research that will help ultimately improve the product during the development process as well as during the post-release phase of its lifecycle.
Manufacturing is split into three teams: The Detroit team, the Shanghai team, and the Purchasing team. These teams will need several items to be completed so that they are ready for the new product launch once it enters general production. They will need “Required manufacturing process documentation or outputs (e.g., work instructions, CNC programs, manning plans, etc.) are complete” (NPDSolutions, n.d.), as well as that “Production processes, have been proven/qualified/validated using either pilot production lines or actual production lines” (NPDSolutions, n.d.). Further, they will also require that “Production workers have been trained or training is planned to support initiation of production. The product and demand forecast data has been established in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and ERP is used to plan and manage the supply chain and production” (NPDSolutions, n.d.). The Purchasing team will also require that “All suppliers have been selected and qualified” ” (NPDSolutions, n.d.) and it will be their responsibility to ensure that “Needed materials and parts are on-order or in stock” (NPDSolutions, n.d.).
The next department is Sales and Marketing, split into six teams: U.S. Sales, U.S. Marketing, European Sales, European Marketing, Partner Management, and Online Sales teams. This arguably makes them the most diverse audience out of the entire company, and thus the materials they will require are equally diverse. However, I believe it can follow a general framework of communication overall, which we will have to help them develop and standardize to ensure smooth operations across all the teams. The sales teams require that “Promotional materials and sales literature have been developed, ordered, and are ready to distribute” (NPDSolutions, n.d.) and that “Sales personnel have the needed sales literature, sales support material and product samples” (NPDSolutions, n.d.) while the online sales team will also require an up-to-date website.
All sales teams will also require proper training to ensure they can effectively make the product sell. The marketing teams then require that “Market receptivity has been evaluated by key customer feedback, focus groups, test markets, or beta tests prior to launch” (NPDSolutions, n.d.) and “If the product is being used by beta customers, testimonials or case studies have been prepared” (NPDSolutions, n.d.). These are required to help them properly market the overall product and communicate with potential clients. However, we have two separate marketing teams to work with. We must take in and help communicate information from two separate parts of the global market, both of which likely have distinct views on the upcoming product. Finally, the Partner Management team should communicate with industry partners that have a vested interest in the product selling well, such as Amazon, as “marketing partners who have a financial stake in the success of the launch are natural allies. The more people that are talking about the release, the better chances it will get pickup” (Lavenda, 2013).
The Technical Support department consists of just one team, which will hopefully make communication with them a simpler affair, even if it is more technical in nature. As such, technical support will require multiple items to ensure they are capable of properly supporting the new product once it launches. First, they will require that “All product design documentation has been completed and approved” (NPDSolutions, n.d.), “The product documentation is under configuration control” (NPDSolutions, n.d.) and “User documentation, operating manuals and maintenance instructions have been completed” (NPDSolutions, n.d.). Their team will also require training in supporting the new product. Finally, they will require that “Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) have been identified and responses prepared” (NPDSolutions, n.d.) and “Troubleshooting guides, installation guides, and service manuals have been prepared” (NPDSolutions, n.d.). All of this is necessary for them to support and troubleshoot user issues. However, this is dependent on effective communication between them and Research and Development, and our task here will be to help facilitate that communication, help with the documentation, and assist with training them on the new product.
Finance and Accounting will play an important role as “Today, it costs more to bring a new product to market. Product innovation is becoming more targeted while supply chain complexity is rising” (Cecere, 2013). Thus, it will be the job of the financial departments to draft initial budgets and allocate further budget resources where necessary as development and launch progress. However, they cannot accomplish this without communicating with all the other departments, as they will have differing budgetary needs with regards to the product and seeing to its success.
Finally, there is the Human Resources (HR) department. This department consists of the Corporate HR along with representatives at each job site. Much like with Financing and Accounting, HR needs to be assisted when communicating with the various teams that make up the departments, as the teams individually have different requirements for HR. Overall however, HR will need these generalized items from each department: staffing requirements, promotion information, and hierarchical information or in simpler terms organizational information (e.g.: Who reports to whom). HR will also require information on any planned bonuses or work incentives the departments will invoke during the project. Ultimately, they will need performance review objectives as HR in part handles employee performance reviews.
Please note that all of the above are simply general guidelines as to what each department requires. It is up to us as a department to determine the specific details of those overall requirements. There are multiple ways we can accomplish this research, predominantly we will conduct a “type of primary research called field research” (Gerson and Gerson, 2016). With this in mind, we will use the following methods:
All of these are proven methods of conducting research, and we will need to make use of them when determining the specific needs of each department. As was stated, we will survey the general personnel of each department to create a baseline for what needs to be done for their specific needs. These will be short, online surveys so that they are unobtrusive and convenient for department staff. The interviews are self-explanatory and will help us glean more specific information from the department and staff leadership as to what they believe are the important points the information we will help them communicate must cover. Finally, it is imperative that we listen to any and all feedback given during these proceedings, as it is likely we will need to make corrections and adjustments as the project progresses.
Since the diversity of the audiences, the organizational differences among and within departments, and the division of assignments are so significantly different, one might logically assume it may be impossible or highly unlikely to have a successful product launch. In spite of those differences, if the company follows the audience evaluation techniques described in this analysis, they can have a high likelihood of success. Using the proper research techniques, in particular, those suggested above, the appraising of individual department needs as outlined, organized and categorized can be successfully obtained and lead to the success of any company launch. Moreover, if the techniques and outlines are followed carefully and completely, i.e., the “primary” methods of research which has three components: surveys, face to face interviews, and teleconference video interviews, then all departments will learn about and communicate among themselves and each other allowing the launch to be effective and productive even beyond the launch. Another benefit of this method of research is its usefulness in determining leadership goals within each team. The effectiveness of good or less effective leadership flows downward on the organizational chart. Assessing individual team leadership can be a forecast of the company’s overall success.
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