Over many years of designing and developing products ranging from simple plastic items to complicated online vending systems, the IPS development team has learned a lot about the product development process.
Starting a New Project
So, you just got assigned to lead a new project for your company. Surely many thoughts are going through your head. First, you have to know where to start. Let’s assume management did not catch you by surprise, and that you have been involved in discussions about the new product you are to be involved in. Let’s also assume that you are leading the initial charge in the product realization process. So, what should to do first, you may ask?
→ Gather Your Thoughts/ Understand the Concept
→ Strategy & Timeline
→ Outline Features/ Requirements
→ Development Outline
→ At the heart of every great experience is a rich understanding of the problem it is designed to solve.
The need for research is critical; before, during, and sometimes afterward while testing, for example. Research is vital not only in answering questions but more importantly, asking the right questions to begin with.
→ Form follows function.
Who is using this product? Identifying every individual that will encounter the product creates a better understanding of how the product will be used.
During this first phase of the development process, gather all relevant information to baseline the maturity of the design, requirements, and use cases. During this phase, derived requirements will be generated so that each functional team has traceability to the system requirements for the nose piece and the companion application.
During the first phase, it is important to collaborate to review the proposed design requirements and to provide feedback and recommendations based on the review. The device requirements will be reviewed and finalized, and a preliminary design, electrical, and mechanical approach will be outlined that addresses the stated requirements.
”All experienced product developers understand plans can change. But failing to invest the time at the outset to generate a well-considered plan with agreed-upon goals can have disastrous consequences; from negatively affecting morale to missing merchandise resets and thus losing revenue. It can’t be said enough: Having a plan is critical to product development success.Sven C. JohnsonSr. Industrial Designer
In the early stages of a project, it is important to capture the form and visual direction of the product. IPS designers visualize your product through a series of sketches, storyboards, quick CAD generation, lifestyle renderings, and rough or appearance quality mockups. The content that’s created can be used to generate material for reviews, shows, and investor pitches.
From concept development to proof of concept we developed a working prototype suitable for pathogen kill testing. We supplied the expertise required to move concepts from inception to manufacturing. Read the full case study →
Without a formal Productization Plan clearly delineating the required product features, use cases, user interface requirements, technical components (and other key considerations described below), the product development process is destined to undergo costly pitfalls, creating strain between developers and their customers, employees, and investors. It is often difficult to recover from these unexpected glitches – especially for a startup, but for larger entities as well. Lack of this Plan is why many product developments fail.
The Plan defines the exact product requirements from the user’s perspective.
In this phase, you will perform all the necessary tasks and activities to develop the preliminary design of your product. Industrial design detailing along with detailed electrical, mechanical, and firmware design will be performed. Also, preliminary mechanical, electrical and system design will be performed. All open requirements will be finalized. At the end of this phase, the design is expected to be fully defined and ready for detailed design.
Test & Validation
Prototype Build & Testing
The activities in this phase involve procurement and assembly of all materials required for the prototypes for test. One will procure and build the necessary components for one prototype test fixture as well as will perform the tasks required to verify and validate the performance of the fixture. Also, in this phase, you will define and develop high-level Production Test Requirements.
Disciplines & Roles Needed to Complete Phases of Product Development
→ Software Engineering Role:
Application software is typically “front and center” when it comes to the user’s experience with any computerized system. As such, when building out the requirements of a system, many people tend to have a strong opinion as to how the application software will operate.
What isn’t always obvious is there’s a much larger, multifaceted portion of software working in the background, enabling various systems to connect and communicate with each other in order to deliver the functionality the user is wanting. The UI portion of the application that the average person sees and feels is just the tip of the iceberg!
Take Zoom, for instance, which we’re all familiar with in today’s remote workplace. I’ve heard many times, “Man, we should build an app like Zoom, have you seen their stock price?” This sentiment is typically focused on the UI, which probably makes up 10% of Zoom’s software system. It doesn’t take into account all the backend software – on the user’s device, in the cloud, and on other people’s computers – that’s required for enabling the app to connect, encode, decode, and transmit the huge amount of synchronized data that is required to support a typical Video Conference Call.
- Series Post #12: Q&A with a Senior Software Engineer on the Product Development Process
→ Systems Architecture Role:
The Systems Architecture team primarily captures complex, multi-disciplinary product needs and requirements then develops a suitable architecture and technical approach. This allows us to review risks and opportunities early in the Product Design process and optimize the product requirements, architecture, and approach to our clients’ needs and constraints.
As the project progresses, we provide technical oversight to ensure that all components are being developed in alignment with the requirements and architecture. Throughout the development lifecycle, as features may be added or market needs become clearer, the impact to the overall system and its elements is evaluated so the necessary tradeoffs and course corrections are made without discontinuity across disciplines.
- Series Post #11: Q&A with a Senior Systems Architecture Engineer on the Product Development Process
→ Embedded Systems Role:
We bring products to life!
A holistic approach, the seamless marriage of hardware and software, is critical for successful embedded system design. This approach uniquely positions the Embedded Systems Group to provide solutions designed with high technical accuracy and faster time to market. The Embedded Systems Group accomplishes this through our diverse group of talented individuals that are experienced in multiple disciplines (EE/CS/CE). This allows us to architect and develop embedded hardware and software solutions with a wide range of capability, functionality, and complexity.
- Series Post #9: Q&A with a Senior Embedded Systems Engineer on the Product Development Process
→ Industrial Design Role:
Like most Industrial Design teams, our primary purpose is to represent the individual or group of people who will use the product; whether it be hardware, software, or a combination of the two. We convert user needs in combination with technical requirements into manufacturable products that and both elegant and functional.
- Series Post #7: Q&A with a Senior Industrial Designer on the Product Development Process
→ Electrical Engineering Role:
Electrical Engineering: With modern technology so focused on software, hardware design is sometimes taken for granted. However, at the heart of any robust product is a foundation of hardware that must be designed for functionality as well as growth. Hardware platforms have evolved to accept continual Over The Air (OTA) updates in order to take advantage of new features or enhanced functionality, while modern users have evolved to expect this as well. Our hardware engineers are closely coupled with the software team and are tuned for integrating hardware and software to create a sustainable system.
- Series Post #6: Q&A with a Senior Electrical Engineer on the Product Development Process
→ Manufacturing Role
The Manufacturing Services team covers the last mile in the Product Lifecycle assuring that the finished product design transitions smoothly into full scale production and that a fully realized, quality product is delivered to the customer. We accomplish that by finding best in class suppliers who can provide the required components, including all manner of tooled parts, then shepherding those parts through a pilot build, identifying and documenting all the processes required to successfully manufacture a high quality, high reliability product.
- Series Post #14: Q&A with a Manufacturing Services Leader on the Product Development Process
Industrial Design Case Study
IPS has all the capabilities under one roof to ideate, prototype, create and deliver finished products involving a wide range of design and engineering competencies.
The preceding descriptions do not represent all of the terminology used in product development processes. People may refer to things like samples that are even more vaguely defined. Even with these descriptions, do not accept them as common knowledge. Do you have your own personal or corporate definitions of such things? Great. Just make sure when engaging with a product development partner, or even discussing such things internally within your company, make sure there is clarity across the board as to what is meant by these terms for the purposes of your collaboration and development effort. Especially when working with an outside partner, it is advisable to have such descriptions clearly articulated – preferably in writing – so as to avoid confusion, disappointment, increased costs, and delivery delays. At a minimum, whether you’ve engaged a product development partner like IPS or are designing in-house, be sure to have specific discussions regarding working definitions of models and prototypes to ensure that everyone is on the same page.