Not all design is just a drawing, painting or a concept in your head. You have to start with the reality of production in order to plan a successful product. In order to lay a foundation to your upcoming designs you will need a schedule. That scheduling is a pivotal point in any design. I will provide an example of scheduling and how it can effect the out come of an efficient design.
If you are developing a product over seas you will need to keep in mind that time is always a factor. I have developed thousands of products over seas and every single product takes an exorbitant amount of time to develop. There is more to a product than just designing a product and sending it in to a factory. You have to know all the factor's associated with your product and plan them accordingly.
Lets start with the basics then dig into the actual schedule. What is the product, where will it be produced, does it need trims and when do you want it to hit stores. A good example would be a shirt, it will be made in China, and we need it for our Spring assortment. Now that we have a base, lets see how to make our schedule.
All factory's will roughly know how long it will take to make samples or production. Most factory's will produce a sample in 2/3 weeks which will not included the 4/5 days it takes to air your sample in to the country. Shirt production usually takes about 60 to 90 days. Shipping these products will be done one of two ways, by air or by boat. Air shipments take roughly 7 days and boat shipments from China take roughly 45 days. These shipments include passing through customs and being delivered directly. Now production sampling and production has been laid out, although there are other factor's that play into your product. If your going directly into production for your own store you can move forward with production right after the samples are approved. If you have to pre-book your line in order to make production, you will have to add that planning into your schedule.
Once you have approved samples or pre-production samples you can pre-line these products with some of you top accounts. Pre-lineing is a great way to narrow down your assortment and secure sales with your top accounts. Allow yourself about 2 weeks to pre-line your line. Depending on the feed back you may have to to make some small changes before you move forward with salesmen samples. Salesmen samples take roughly 4 weeks to produce depending on how many you will need. If you have over a 100 sales reps you will have to treat it like a production run. If you have a smaller team you can have salesmen samples (SMS) turned in 4 weeks. While you are pre-lining your products you should begin setting up photoshoots to get assets for your line. The good news is when you start shooting products, it will be roughly the time of year you are selling them.
Once you have your line narrowed down, it is time to do two things, order salesmen samples and start preparing marketing materials. Lucky for you, you have already set up all your photoshoots which means that your assets should be shot around the same time you started putting together all your collateral for marketing. Once salesmen samples reach your sales reps you should allow roughly 6 weeks to pre-book the line. This number may very depending on the size of your sales force and their territories. If your new to pre-books then 6 weeks is a good amount of time for your reps to visit accounts.
Finally you have come to the end of your pre-books and it is time to tally up your orders. Once you determine how many orders you have you will need to place a purchase order (PO) to your factory for production. Production should take anywhere from 60-90 days (not including Feburary due to Chinese New Year). Be sure when you order the product that you order the same amount of hang tags/misc trims to be produced with your products. Before your products are finished you should come to a conclusion how to get your products to the warehouse. You have 2 options when it comes to shipping. The more expensive but fast route is by air. It takes roughly 7-10 days to have your product shipped by air. This number includes customs and door to door service. Your other option, which is substantially cheaper is shipment by boat. Boat shipments takes roughly 45 days with customs and door to door service.