Product Development Processes: Exploring the Pros and Cons

Whether you run a startup or you founded a successful company with decades in your given industry, engineering and product development may be at the forefront of what you do. Bringing new products to market is one way that businesses can compete. After all, careers involved in product prototyping (including graphic designers, software developers, mechanical engineers, and others) accounted for 1.2 million jobs nationwide in 2016. In other words, there’s a demand for new and innovative offerings that can improve our lives.

However, getting to the final development stages is no easy task. Even determining the need for a certain product or the basic details of said product can be a challenge. And in many cases, the steps to creating a given product aren’t totally clear.

If all of that sounds familiar, your business could benefit from working with a product development firm. It’s one thing to have incredible ideas; it’s quite another to make them into a reality. All of that starts with identifying the right product development process for your business — and working with a product design and development company that can accommodate those preferences. Whether you need guidance on software design or you’re looking to receive step-by-step assistance on the development of new electronics from a product development firm, understanding the possible processes you might use for developing a new product can be a great place to start.

Waterfall Approaches

Traditional engineering and product development will typically align with “waterfall” approaches. It’s essentially a linear process, meaning that there are specific stages that need to be completed in a certain order before the next one can begin. After a stage is completed, the team generally can’t go back to a previous stage. Instead, movement through the development stages goes in only one forward direction (hence the name “waterfall”). In many cases, there’s a “gate” that exists between each stage, as well; these milestones need to be checked off before moving ahead to the next stage. The original model for waterfall product development featured the phases of product requirements, analysis, design, coding, testing, and operations, but subsequent models have included different variations on the initial process. Usually, waterfall product development approaches are structured as one large project that has well-defined requirements made before beginning any work. Waterfall approaches are used in all kinds of product development, from software and IT to manufacturing and construction.

Waterfall approaches have historically been a popular choice for engineering and product development due to their ease of use. The process is simple to follow and to manage, which also means team members don’t necessarily require any additional training to use it. It’s also a process that’s easy to share with clients. In fact, doing so is actually part of its design. That said, waterfall product development approaches do come with certain limitations. Changes are difficult to accommodate and because the process is so rigid, it can actually be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.

Agile Processes

Agile product development processes, as their name might suggest, are more flexible in nature. Agile actually refers to a large category of several different processes, including scrum and Kanban (though there are distinct differences between them). Agile methodology forgoes detailed planning at the beginning of a project, instead favoring to changing requirements based on feedback and knowledge. It’s a more incremental approach that focuses on accountability, communication, and collaboration in order to achieve both the customer’s needs and the internal goals of the organization. Efficiency and frequency are prioritized, as are simplicity, sustainability, and competitive edge.

The adaptability of agile processes is a huge selling point, as are the values of consistent improvement, teamwork, and customer feedback. However, these processes do require highly skilled individuals and increased dedication to product development. By working with product design consulting firms, agile development processes are more likely to produce effective results.

When choosing a methodology for your engineering and product development, one type isn’t necessarily superior to the other. Your decision should be based on the needs of your customers, the capacity of your team, and your ultimate vision for your organization. To learn more about how our engineers can help streamline your company’s product development, please contact us today.

Remote Collaboration and Product Development: Can It Be Done Successfully?

In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are working from home on a full-time basis. In many cases, businesses that had always conducted their operations at a centralized location have now embraced remote work with aplomb. But while you may be able to teleconference and share documents via the Cloud, you may be wondering whether there are certain aspects of your organization that can’t be handled digitally.

 

Take product development, for example. Most thriving business owners feel they need a team of product developers to handle innovation and collaboration in close physical quarters. Without that tangible connection, they worry that their products will fall flat. And since only 1.5 products ever launch for every seven ideas that develop, it’s important to nail every part of the process.

 

But what many organizations fail to realize is that a product development firm can actually conduct the work that needs to be done in a completely remote environment. Whether your own operations continue to be performed remotely or you’ll be back in the office before too long, you don’t necessarily need an in-house team to handle your product development in person. In fact, product design consulting firms can facilitate superior results in a way that doesn’t depend on being in the same room together.

 

For product development, in particular, there are a number of challenges pertaining to remote work. There’s no doubt that working remotely in a cohesive and collaborative fashion requires constant adjustments and stellar communication. But there are many product development firms that thrive in these kinds of environments and can pass along those benefits to their clients. What’s more, there are some essential components of any workflow used by any given product design and development company that lend themselves to remote work — such as customer research and knowledge sharing.

 

Ultimately, it’s important to eschew the idea that a product design service company can’t serve its clients in a remote setting. It may be different from what you’re used to, but remote work has actually been shown to increase productivity for many workers. Instead of wasting time in pointless mandatory meetings with your in-house staff, you can book as-needed teleconferencing calls with your product development firm to increase efficiency and overall satisfaction with the process. As long as your team is fully dedicated to communication and collaboration, there’s absolutely no reason product development can’t be accomplished with great success while businesses continue to work remotely.

 

If you’re struggling to thrive with your current product development process or your team needs help with adjusting to the new normal of remote work, our team’s expertise will guide you. Whether you need assistance developing a concept, you’d like help investigating your newest idea, or you want outside support with your prototyping, we’re here for you — from afar. For more information, please contact Porticos today.

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Product Design Service Companies

The last decade has seen a surge of inventors and start-ups whose products never made it past the drawing stage. For context, McKinsey Global Institute estimates that approximately 25-45% of new products fail.

Most of the products lack technical feasibility and commercial viability that can be ascertained by product design service companies. Manufacturing engineering companies can reduce your cost, save time, and meet your goals by helping you design a workable, sellable product concept.

What to Consider When Hiring a Product Design Consulting Firm

Product development from concept to reality is a tough process that demands a lot of initial investment. Concept design companies play a critical role in product design, testing, prototyping, design documentation, and production. Find a reliable partner as early as possible to avoid wasting time and money. The product design consulting firms can inform you if the concept is viable and the feasibility in system engineering.

Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing product design service companies.

1. Portfolio

The best method to analyze the suitability of different product development firms is to analyze their portfolio. The various case studies can help you decide their caliber of product design concepts. Find out how many products they have taken to market. Analyze the different concept executions and see if they align with the vision for your product.

2. Understand Your Design Needs

What are your product goals? What are the challenges you intend to solve with the product design consulting firm? Be clear on the service level you need as it helps improve accuracy and time savings during the process. Some companies focus on the technical feasibility of the concept, while others specialize in user-experience. Try and settle for product design service companies with a delicate balance of both.

3. Networking

The best firms attract a pool of designers and engineers with a diverse set of skills in product development. The broad range of backgrounds ensures that the company has the necessary expertise to nurture your idea from concept to market launch. Evaluate the capabilities of members allocated to your project. Additionally, the firm’s networks can link you to material and equipment suppliers, safety compliance, and contract manufacturers.

4. One-Stop-Shop

The depth and interdependence of different stages during the product design process determine the final time and cost invested. Conduct an in-house audit to examine your company’s capability in product development. The assessment may help indicate the level of design you need to outsource. New products may require firms robust in research and idealization of the concepts.

5. Point of Contact

Communication is a critical element during the concept design process. Your relationship with the product development firm may determine the success of your project. Whenever possible, go for firms that allow you to establish a single point of contact between you and the company. It helps to streamline communication and create synergy between the different teams working on the idea.

6. Reviews

There is no better way of understanding the firm’s work ethic than talking to past clients. Client’s testimonials may paint a picture of how your relationship may turn out to be. Repeat clients may be a sign of professionalism and satisfaction with the quality of work done. Call and interview as many companies as you can.

Bottom-Line

Product development is a hectic and treacherous journey. Hiring product design companies can help you execute your new idea from concept to taking the product to the market. For more information on how manufacturing engineering companies can position your project to success, contact Porticos.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Product Design Consultancy Firms

Modern-day businesses are doing all they can to keep afloat. While some have lowered prices to attract customers, others have opted to re-strategize and develop products that resonate with their consumers’ evolving needs. The latter can position your business as an industry leader in innovation — but it’s important to know that only four out of seven new product ideas reach the final stage of development.

Product design and development often comes down to your team. That may even extend to the companies with which you outsource or supplement your in-house efforts. While there are numerous product design consulting firms nationwide, not all guarantee quality services. Below are helpful factors to consider when looking for product design consultancy firms.

Reputable Past Work

Product design service companies have, in recent times, mastered the art of winning customers through low rates. These low rates should never be enough to convince you that the firm can deliver. To be on the safe side, ask for previous works for critical analysis.

Client testimonials are a unique way of familiarizing yourself with product design consulting firms from the onset. But the best way is to review the work is in person. This way, you will be equipped with first-hand information on what the firm you pick is capable of doing.

Any reputable product design and development company will have a work portfolio that highlights their previous projects. Take your time and critically evaluate the designed products to avoid making a rushed decision. It’s advisable to stay away from concept design engineering consultants who have nothing to show for it.

One-Stop-Shop Capabilities

Choosing product design consultancy firms can sometimes be complicated, especially when these firms don’t always offer every service you need. One thing about product development is that every stage is crucial; even a slight error or miscalculation can have adverse effects on market performance.

Additionally, product development is a lengthy process that would be better when done by a product design consulting firm. The firm that you choose has to show commitment to the whole process and take responsibility for its flaws.

The firm you go for must be in a position to provide all the services. This way, there will be some consistency in the development process. Shifting from one vendor to another during the development process can lead to shoddy work.

Communication and Reputation

Just because a manufacturing engineering company has all documents and positive reviews doesn’t mean that everything about it is straightforward. Some firms have the best customer service at the beginning of a project but will be hard to get ahold of as the project progresses. Similar to any other service, communication is a critical component in engineering and product development. There should, however, be some consistency in the communication to avoid any distortion of the original message.

The best way to avoid this distortion is to have a central communication point. If the concept design engineering company you go for lacks such structures, you are in for a shocker. It is a requirement for all product design consulting firms to have robust communication strategies and channels.

Sometimes, the dynamics of the project and the product being developed may change. In such a scenario, manufacturing engineering consultants should be flexible enough to adopt change in the development process. Communication between product design consulting firms and clients is vital. If you notice any gaps in communication in the early stages, that is a red flag, which should inform you what to expect. Reputable firms have to remain committed to the process no matter what.

Overall Expertise

The initial stages of product development require some basic, widely held skills. These basic skills should not deceive you into believing that a firm is capable of delivering complicated projects. As the project progresses, the work becomes more technical — which calls for the services of experts.

Concept design engineering consultants should demonstrate that they have the right skills to get the work done. Unless you have this assurance, avoid making rushed decisions.

Final Word

Although desperate times call for desperate measures, product development does not fall in this category. Take time and interview as many product design consulting firms as possible. For more information on product design service companies, contact us today.