Our Product Development Strategy
Not all product development is created equal. Which product development strategies we employ depends on the needs of our client, the nature of the product we are designing, and how new the technologies used in the product are.
Flexible Product Development Strategy
Truly innovative products, by nature, need a more flexible product development process. Rather than using a traditional – complete and rigid – project plan, flexible product development allows for changes in the product being developed.
The key to success in new product design is employing tactics that allow making decisions later while keeping the cost of changes low. For example, we use system architectures with modular subsystems to help insulate changes. We find it best to make smaller, subsystem prototypes for experimentation and iteration. Our team of multi-discipline engineers communicate regularly with the client to share findings and get feedback. This enables us to keep momentum while options are explored and selected.
Phase-Gate Project Approach
New product development is traditionally broken up into the following phases: Ideation, Concept Development, Detail Design, Prototype, Test, Production. Each phase in the development of a new product has an activity and a deliverable. The deliverable from one phase becomes the input for the next. Gates are the major decision making points in the development process.
The first major gate is the Preliminary Design Review (PDR). It is held at the end of the Concept Development phase and is used to demonstrate that the preliminary design meets the requirements. It establishes the system architecture and basis for the Detail Design phase.
The Critical Design Review (CDR) is held at the end of the Detail Design phase. It ensures that the final design meets the product requirements and is ready for release for initial build and testing.
Incremental change product development projects benefit the most from the Phase-Gate process. However, much of the effort in developing a new product incorporating new technologies can also use a Phase-Gate project approach. We typically only use the flexible product development approach on the subsystems that are likely to change during the development process.
For many product development companies, the primary goal is to generate a product design that meets the Product Requirements Document (PRD). This is the ‘contract’ between the client and the engineering services company. It is imperative that the engineering company deliver in this regard. However, oftentimes the specifications aren’t complete or can be somewhat arbitrary. Additionally, the true needs and wants of the customer aren’t always readily apparent from the PRD.
At VisionWorks Engineering, we sit down with our clients for a brief, but intense workshop where we seek to fully understand the unique needs and wants of the product’s end user. Once they are articulated and documented, the engineering team can precisely focus their product engineering activities and make better decisions throughout the design lifecycle. The end result is a new product design that delivers a superior user experience.
Outsourced Product Development
The single most important aspect of outsourcing product development is communication. This is where VisionWorks Engineering shines. From the kick-off meeting to the final hand-off, we constantly seek to understand our client’s needs and wants for the product, priorities in trade-off decisions and testing, and feedback on designs. We provide prompt and accurate information on project status, next steps, and perceived cost, schedule, and design risks.
We provide a huge advantage to clients that outsource their product development to us. Our clients find that with our help they: