Product development can sometimes be a long-winded and expensive process. Creating something from principles or an initial idea means going through a series of phases such as design, validation, and verification before you can get the product out and on the market.
How to Create Products Fast
If you could develop products in a much reduced time, you could not only recoup a lot of those costs earlier on, but also potentially get twice as many new products at the same time. But how do you shorten the product lifecycle effectively? How can you get product to market more quickly? If you follow a few simple rules and organize your product development teams effectively, shortening product development becomes second nature.
1. Make your process flexible
Most large companies operate a stage gate process for new product development and only allow new designs to proceed once they have met very well-defined criteria. This is an important process, as it ensures that only designs that are successful will make it to market. Imagine if the qualifying team of directors and vice presidents only met once per month. If the work on a product had been completed within the first few days of a month, your team may not be working on it while waiting for the next management meeting. It is in the best interest of senior management to introduce new product to the market, so convincing committee members to meet on an ad-hoc basis or whenever your team is ready to approach the next gate will shorten time to market considerably.
2. Employ multi-skilled team members
It’s Friday evening and you have just learned that the electronics test technician you want to carry out a series of tests on your new product is just starting two weeks’ vacation. How are you going to get your testing done? Waiting two weeks before you can get your testing started will add time to your development, and it won’t take many delays like that to add up significantly. Nobody is irreplaceable, and having someone else who can do the work required means that there is no delay and your product design can move forward smoothly. This same rule can apply to any function — from design to accounts to testing. Remove the single point of failure in your team and watch it flow.
3. Embrace the fuzzy front end
Many product development teams start at one end and go through a series of steps in a linear fashion until the project is finished. Starting at point A, moving to point B, then on to point C is a straightforward but slow way of doing things. Considering multiple start points and a non-linear approach will shorten your development time significantly. A product that has both mechanical and electrical assemblies within it would be inconceivable to complete one part of the project before starting the other. To wait until all the mechanical design is done before starting the electrical design may end up being long-winded. Other parts of the project can be started at the same time to shorten the overall project time. This method is called the “fuzzy front-end”, and suggests that the start of the project progresses from many start points rather than in a strictly linear fashion. Working out which parts can commence at the same time will decrease your project timescales — and potential costs — substantially.
4. Control complexity
Innovation is an important aspect of new products, and people often want to see new and useful products or features, However, this can be a double-edged sword, as innovation invariably means development costs and extended timescales to market. Limiting innovation on a new product will allow you to get to market faster and will provide you with the option of introducing further advances on future product. That is not to say that you shouldn’t protect your new features with the appropriate intellectual property safeguards, but review it all and decide on what can be left off until the next iteration or new product launch, and expose yourself to fewer problems.
Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with strengths in software development, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial design. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.