Companies looking to outsource new product development can make the process slower, more costly, or even completely unsuccessful if they don’t avoid these 3 mistakes.

1. Failing to prototype early and iteratively.

It can be tempting for businesses and outsourcing firms alike to delay prototyping until later in the design process. The reasoning behind this is often well-intentioned and twofold: First, that most of the “kinks” of a design can be adequately worked out “on paper,” making physical prototyping unnecessary except as a “last step” prior to actual production. Second, that delaying of the prototyping will expedite the design process, reduce labor and material costs, and therefore result in significant savings.

The truth is, failing to prototype early and iteratively throughout the design process makes it far more likely that design flaws will go undetected at stages when they can be corrected without considerable cost. Without the benefit of multiple prototypes to test throughout the process to iteratively inform subsequent versions of the product, flaws become evident only after significant time and labor have already been invested. Far from being a cost-saving strategy, later-stage prototyping more often than not complicates, extends, and can even bankrupt a design process. In short, designs that look perfect on paper rarely perform perfectly in real life, and the earlier this gap can be detected and closed, the better.

2. Tracking costs too infrequently.

Losing track of the multiple interconnected costs that inhere in the design process can lead to skyrocketing expenses and can even derail production completely. What may seem like small, inconsequential cost increases that accrue over the course of product development can quickly spiral out of control without vigilant oversight throughout the design process.

A common scenario is that projects begin with well-defined scope, clear targets, a robust mission, and actionable goals. Months pass and the project manager reviews the budget and finds the projected amount of the bill of materials dwarfs the target cost. What went wrong?

When cost considerations aren’t continually recalibrated in relation to technical decisions, “sticker shock” is the likely outcome. To avoid this problem, numbers need to be reviewed as frequently as every two weeks, and disparities between projected costs and actual project expenses must be identified and addressed immediately. It’s not unusual or necessarily problematic for numbers to vary as a project progresses, but that these numbers require constant monitoring. Regular review provides the team with the information to make the disciplined tradeoffs between specific design aspirations and cost constraints that preserve investment integrity and market viability.

3. Outsourcing to multiple different companies.

In a quest for maximum cost-savings, businesses often find themselves in a position of outsourcing their product development to multiple companies. While this strategy can sometimes make sense, it more often than not comes with hidden costs. These hidden costs have nothing to do with unscrupulous business practices. Rather, they have to do with the disconnects, delays, and miscommunications that are nearly inevitable when product components are developed by companies that have nothing to do with each other and therefore no way to effectively coordinate their work.

For most businesses, especially those seeking to develop more complex products with multiple components, a single-source product development firm is a far more cost-effective option. The benefits of a single-source firm include seamless coordination, enhanced efficiency, increased accountability, ease of communication, and access to integrated teams of interdisciplinary experts. With all aspects of product development conducted under one umbrella, a single-source firm is the natural cost-saving solution to companies most pressing design challenges.

At Pivot International, we’re a single-source collaborative design, development and manufacturing firm with over 46 years of experience in helping businesses profitably realize their product’s potential. Interested in learning what a partnership with Pivot might mean to you and your product? Reach out to us today and consult with one of our design professionals for free.