The Product Development Process — Overview
A map for getting your feet wet in new design and introducing the Product Development Process.
the “Bright Idea”
Step 1 – Process Overview
In this work we see a lot of inventors. We love inventors. They have great ideas. They are thinkers . . . . and we like that. Yet, after the great idea, inventors often struggle with what to do next. An invention is wonderful, but the idea is only an idea — until, through the Product Development Process, it becomes a reality.
I am often asked: “How do I get my great idea (invention) to market?” – A great question with a not-so-simple answer. Creating a new product is more than just making a few parts. It happens through a process we call “Product Development“.
This article, with it’s several pages, address many of the common questions and misconceptions we hear in conversations about “What should I do next?”
A Simplistic Map:
The Product Development Process
This simple flow chart leaves out many details, so we’ll fill them in reading page by page. For now, just know that it’s not as simple as the diagram appears, and it’s not as overwhelming as some people make it sound.
Start at the Beginning:
The process starts with a great idea, then ends, hopefully, with a desirable product in hand. Morphing the “Bright Idea“ into a “Final Product“ is a process of thinking through issues & adaptations, working out details, compromises and defining all the specifics. Things like how it’s made, materials, possible failure modes, required regulations, patents and intellectual property protection are all part of the process. It is, therefore, a unique path for every new product. But don’t worry, there is a lot of commonality, and that is what the pages of this article address.
This article with it’s many pages is written as a perspective — not specifically as a step by step guide — but a way of showing the direction. It is generic enough to cover a wide range of new ideas and products, yet hopefully specific enough to guide each individual in setting their unique course. To facilitate the discussion we use the following illustrative example of the Product Development Process in action. We’ll follow this example through these article pages.
The Problem — (An Illustrative Example):
A few years ago I was looking for new stereo speakers. I visited stores, read articles, books and magazines. I talked to friends and sales people. In the end, I was disappointed that the really “good” speakers were very expensive, and the affordable speakers were … well, “cheap”. I wanted great sound without a mortgage.
The Bright Idea:
Design a high-end speaker with amazing performance that I can make, that does not cost a fortune.
For more examples, click through the many work samples listed on the Engineering Services page about Product Design and Development.
Learning with This Article
A simplified diagram of the Product Development Process is shown graphically in the figure above. Discovering the “Bright Idea“ is the first big step, and it usually occurs without much of a method. Advancing that idea is the essence of this article (with all of the following pages).
Of course, the exact process for each new product idea is unique, yet there are many “typical” steps. Those typical steps in development are discussed in the pages of this article. The menu includes all the steps, as well as some important additional reading. Select the hyperlinks to read all about it.
Next Up: Step 2 – Requirements