Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Concept Development and Testing Essential Product Development for Engineers Concept Design
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Developing the best idea or group of ideas is the next stage after concept screening. The purpose here is to work the idea(s) up in a bit more detail, with further refinement. This reduces risks and maximises the chances of product development success.
It should be noted, development the concept is different from detailed design engineering, which features later on in the development process. Instead this phase is about modest development of the technical aspects and marketing considerations for your chosen concept. However like all parts of the product development process this stage is scalable, depending on the complexity of the product and length of the process.
The cross-functional team should use their expertise and breadth at this stage to examine and refine the concept, from a number of viewpoints. Considerations and a range of questions (and variations of those questions) can help facilitate this:
Developing Concepts with Trusted Users
Obtaining the opinions of stakeholders beyond your cross-functional team may provide you with additional feedback, which may be invaluable in setting the future direction of the project. Some manufacturing businesses use focus groups from the target market or a small selection of loyal customers to test new product concepts. Ideally the concept should be mocked up in a typical usage situation.
These sessions should include thorough scrutiny, with questions encouraged about every aspect of the new concept. The session requires a facilitator, who may want to include documentation and information to stimulate discussions and questioning, such as the specification and the findings of the internal cross-functional team. Alternatively consider customer surveys and interviews to gauge opinion. Marketing companies can assist here.
Record the findings and carefully consider what aspects of feedback you want to consider incorporating later in the development process.
Consider using the opportunity to test related themes like packaging, service ideas and disposal of older products you aim to replace. Finally, it goes without saying customers and test groups outside the business, should be trustworthy and potentially bound by some sort of confidentiality agreement.
At the end of this stage you should have one selected concept you are prepared to fully develop. It may have been modified and refined, having been through the final stages of the concept phase. It may also incorporated features and good ideas from earlier concepts.
Finally, some sort of approval (either formal or informal) should be the trigger to progress the project. This will include agreement from the cross-functional team.
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