Measuring Progress of Product Development Projects: What You Measure is What You Get- Part 2 of 2

Confused Man

Another point about prototypes is that they are expensive and time consuming to design and build. Typically, a great deal of decision making and design effort is expended in creating a design to be prototyped and also in building and debugging the prototypes. The evolution of rapid prototyping technologies has greatly reduced the cost and time of fabricating prototype parts; however, the cost and time associated with designing them is high. Many hours of labor are expended working through the major and minor design details needed to make the various systems and components integrate together functionally and physically. This large amount of labor is expended on the assumption that the underlying product requirements and design concepts are accurate and well founded. Otherwise, if it should be learned during the prototype phase that there is a significant change that must be made to a major product requirement or to a fundamental design concept then it is quite likely that much if not all of the design effort expended will need to be recreated, a potentially disastrous waste of time and resources. Read the rest of this entry »

Measuring Progress of Product Development Projects: What You Measure is What You Get – Part 1 of 2

Every product development project has a specific objective:  a new product that satisfies a desire or need in the marketplace and that can be manufactured for a cost far enough below the price for which it can be sold that a satisfactory profit can be made.  Typical development projects require large investments of capital and months or even years of effort.  Naturally, the shareholders who invest this capital and the executive management who are responsible to see that it is being used wisely will be very keen to see signs of progress along the way. Read the rest of this entry »

Optimizing the Product Development Process

Product development is similar to an expedition through an uncharted wilderness. An expedition requires a well-explained description of the destination, a clearly articulated plan for how to get there and an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Once an expedition is underway, there must be a leadership system that allows the various team experts to work together to evaluate risks and make decisions about the best course of action, possibly modifying the original plan based upon new information. Although Lewis and Clark may have eventually reached the Pacific if they had simply grabbed their guns and headed westward, their odds of success were greatly improved by approaching their challenge in a calculated manner. The chances of successfully developing a new product that meets the needs and desires of the marketplace are similarly improved if a methodical development plan is followed.

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Contract Engineer versus Mechanical Engineering Firm

Sometimes a company needs to augment its internal product development team with someone from outside of the organization. The initial thought may be to hire a contract engineer or contract designer through a contract employment agency. However, there is a better alternative: utilize the services of a dedicated mechanical engineering firm. Following are a few important factors to consider before making this important decision.

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