With budgets and schedules becoming ever tighter, building the correct product the first time is more important than ever. Over-engineering can be slow and costly whereas under-engineering can leave end users disappointed and return rates skyrocketing. At Synapse, we rely on a few key principles to deliver great products.
WHO - Know your users and what they want
A clear and complete understanding of users’ needs can drive these decisions towards a successful product. Early prototyping identifies what users want and, perhaps more importantly, what they don’t want or care about. Let careful listening guide your vision towards a successful product.
WHAT and WHY - Understand what you want to deliver and why
One of the hardest parts of product development is finding the right mix of features, materials, and price point to suit both your users and your business model. A beautiful product that your users can’t afford is no better than a product riddled with reliability issues. Spend time upfront to define your product goals and keep them updated throughout the program.
WHEN - Hurry but don’t rush
Many companies apply pressure to rush the product development process so they can be the first to deliver novel technologies and capture the largest market share. However, rushed designs lead to errors, quality issues, and time lost to corrections. While counterintuitive, the fastest products to market are those that pause to fix issues before scaling. The only timeline of interest should be the one to build a product correctly.
HOW - Test, design, repeat
Once you know what you want to deliver, you need to figure out how to make it. Work to understand the components, assemblies and the product as a whole and how they suit your needs.
Remember, quality can’t be tested into reality so plan time and resources to iterate. While suppliers can make promises about their goods, your product holds risk in the interfaces between its “guaranteed” parts. Focus on understanding your product and the risks within it. When requirements change or business models shift, it will be much easier to align your product with new goals if you have a thorough understanding of the parts and processes.
WHERE - Select great manufacturing partners
When it comes to manufacturing, your partners are just as important as your design. Manufacturers turn your design into your product, and they have a large role in whether it shines or falls short. When Synapse NPI engineers look for manufacturing partners, we think about the relationship and the values and goals of our client.
There is no universal 'best' partner. Each product company can be looking for a different ideal blend of speed, quality, cost, risk profile, etc. One of the biggest mistakes we see is over valuing capabilities. Certainly the manufacturer has to have the capability to make the product, but additional capabilities past that may not always be helpful or beneficial when manufacturing your product. With additional capabilities often comes a higher cost and a tendency to look for ways to use those capabilities. While we agree that capabilities are a selection factor that is often relatively easy to quantify, be sure to consider other critical factors such as: does the manufacturer actually want to do your project?
Like any relationship, you need to invest time and effort in order to get the most out of the partnership. Don't assume that the manufacturer will understand what is most important to your project. We believe that we get the best from manufacturers by building this positive relationship, particularly in projects that have very aggressive goals. You'll be spending a lot of time working with your manufacturing partner, so invest in the relationship to make it successful and fun!