What you need to know or to do in order to help take your new product idea or invention to production
We have prepared this article in order to offer better insight what the product development is and what are your responsibilities, hoping it will help you through the process of developing your idea, invention or innovation, as well as in selecting the right product development company and with their help economically take your product to manufacturing. We are not saying you will have to know how to play piano before you can select the pianist, but at least you should know how piano looks like. Here you will find what steps should be taken before you start development of your product / idea, what common questions have to be answered and what are decisions you will have to make. We wish you lots of luck and successful product development.
GOOD IDEAS ARE RARE
N ot everyone has this creative mind able to come up with the new product idea. It takes a very creative spirit to see what is not obvious to the others, to recognize what can be done differently, better, or provide the same functionality but in more economical way. The hardest of all is to see what is missing when nothing similar does not exist. Majority of people never wonder if certain task or activity can be done differently, in better, faster or easier way. Only small group of people has this innovative mind that constantly investigates searching for answers when there is no obvious questions. And only small number of those investigative minds come up with creative solution, with the idea or invention that solves the problem only they may have seen. There is no particular profession, job or type of work that makes these creative and innovative minds. Innovative ideas can happen to anyone, generally in the areas they know very well, often related to the work or personal field of interest. But only ideas worth pursing will stick and are quite rare. We meet these great creative people who come up with the genial ideas, amazing and innovative solutions, who are capable of creating inventions quite regularly, but most of them do not have formal training nor practical experience in product development process. If you are one of them we have prepared this page hoping it will help you take your idea to the next level and make it profitable.
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) clearly states:
"A patent is granted only for the physical embodiment of an idea or for a process that produces something tangible or that can be sold. You cannot patent a scientific principle, an abstract theorem, an IDEA, some methods of doing business, or a computer program per se."
To read more about Patents as part of our How To Take Idea to Production Series, including selected articles taken (with permission) from the CIPO web site www.cipo.ic.gc.ca follow this link → ■.
FIRST ANALYZE END USER BENEFITS YOUR IDEA WILL OFFERH aving great product idea / invention is generally not enough to be successful. Regardless if your business plan is to produce the final product or to sell the IP rights (Royalty) of your new invention or product idea, there is a important part of product development process you will have to perform. If you already have an idea, invention or innovative way of doing things you probably already isolated the particular need for that imaginary new product, analyzed the existing products and their performance and determined that there is a better way of doing it. Your next step is to look at your product idea from the eyes of the end users, determine the size of your market, and crystallize what exactly your new product needs to do.
On your quest for successful product you should never forget to think about the actual benefit your new product will provide to the end user. From easier, simpler, to low cost, better looking the number of potential benefits is limited only by your imagination. More benefits your new product / invention or innovation can offer better chances to success your new product will have. You should establish if and what benefits your product idea, invention or innovation offers to the end user before committing to the product development process. If your idea does not offer any benefits it may not be worth pursuing.
ESTABLISH TARGET MARKET EXPECTATIONSC customers nowadays are looking for cost effective, fully functional and appealing products. Competition was never stronger and products were never offering more. Most of the companies are running with idea to meet and exceed customer's needs. When ideas are exhausted gimmicks are offered. Cellular telephones have video games. Even without deeply pondering in mind of customers we all know that the small gimmick will decide in selection between two comparably same products. People know it is just a gimmick, but still it is considered extra benefit.
Customers never buy poorly manufactured, ugly and bulky cell-phone because of the gimmick, even if it costs less. Logic is simple: Between two similar products which offer the same or almost the same functionality customers will go for either the lower cost or the product with extra feature; but they will never sacrifice vital performance in order to save. Finding the balance between quality, price, gimmicks and true functionality is not that difficult as it may seem. Your success boils down to the optimization of this balance and product development process which will result in better functionality and or more appealing appearance for the same production cost.
Before you proceed with the product development process check your idea or invention against your target market. Define which segment of the market will be interested in your product. Do they see your innovation or invention as advantage? Who will be the end users, what your future end users expect from the product and what will be the benefit for them from using your product? Is there anything else they need or would like to have? Any preferred ways of using it? Establish all possible expectations and/or features your product should have and see how your idea compares. In many cases your idea is only the core for the future product where the added value will come from this analyses. Regardless if it is a brand new innovative product or improvement of the existing one your end user is looking for an obvious advantage. Once you are more familiar with your market, end users and their expectations you will be able to answer number of technical questions and establish "must have" and "nice to have" features for your new product. Later, in development process you will be able to assign a cost to each of those nice and must haves and determine if ROI is beneficial to you and if you may want to start with more economical approach. Needless to say that during the development process we will contribute to your idea and point at any features which may come free as part of the 'core' design.
ESTABLISH TARGET COSTS and PRODUCTION VOLUMESOn the same token if you are thinking of producing the product you may want to determine the selling price as well as manufacturing volumes for your new product. If your product is an improvement it will be easy to set the target costs based on the retail prices of the existing products, but if your idea is brand new invention or innovation, you may consider to talk to professional marketing consultant who can advise you what would be the target price of your product, help you with the determining the market niche, market size, as well as help you anticipate production volumes and/or the size of your competition and other possible threats.
From Product development point of view it is important that you anticipate the production / manufacturing volumes of your new product. Your product development engineer will use this information together with the target costs to determine the most suitable manufacturing process, select material as well as make number of design decisions. Depending on their experience and ability they will be able to optimize the processes and design itself to increase your margins.
ESTABLISH REQUIRED PRODUCT QUALTY
P product development today is complex struggle for better functionality, more stile, higher quality, for well-optimized products with end user in mind. Every detail from price to color, over materials and aesthetics is becoming more important. There is no room for poorly designed products and those who believe that it is possible to sell almost anything if it is just nicely wrapped should not even read this article. We definitely do not share their opinion. Yours and DESIGNLORE goal is not only to develop the fully functional product. Your goal is to have well designed product where design is achieving the target quality and desired life of the product. Quality for example can be determined by materials used (steel , Stainless Steel or plastics) or design features affecting impact resistance but your product should never have obvious deficiencies in the design end user will be able to notice. (Just imagine phone where buttons are falling off.)
One should not mix up the quality of the design and quality of the product. Even the products with lesser quality have to be well designed, while poorly designed products are not even a product. Much of this will depend on the ability of your product development engineers. While good engineers can control the quality of the product as well as the life expectancy the bad engineering will result only with bad products which can even be of the highest possible quality. (Imagine non ergonomic, expensive to produce, hard to use potato peeler with blade that jams, made out of the best Stainless Steel with excessive material thickness - costly, barely working but virtual non destructible product.) In the other hand design of low cost and low quality products for single use (disposables) requires the highest level of engineering and exceptional knowledge of the manufacturing processes.
You should establish desired life expectancy of you new product as well as how would you like to handle serviceability. While today many products are minimally serviceable, or serviceable only in the factory environment, some are still end user serviceable. Type of market, end user specifics as well costs associated with service or replacement of any broken products will help you make your decisions.
Be prepared to discuss the required product quality vs. cost of the product with your product development engineer. It may not be possible to obtain the highest possible quality for the fraction of the price but certainly appropriate choices optimizing overall solution can be made. While number of more specific decisions related to quality of the product will be made during the product development process you need to provide proper and clear guidelines to your product engineers and designers. Well-designed product, must reach market on time and under reasonable development price. Marriage of these three is what the successful product development is and what you will be looking for when selecting your product development consultant.
ESTABLISH MARKET INTRODUCTION (Launch) DATEY ou should set goals when you would like to introduce your new product to the market. For number of products appropriate timing may play important role in brand creating and dynamics of sales. On the other hand some products are targeted for specific and seasonal use and you may need to have the development and production schedules planned accordingly.
PRODUCT IMPROVEMENTS vs. INVENTIONSI f you would like to improve an existing product good starting point is the actual competition and existing products. Thorough analyses of the existing product can reveal numerous opportunities for improvements. In mechanical design there is always room for improvements. Lighter, smaller, stronger or more durable and lower cost solutions usually are key factors providing definite market advantage. Being last on the market usually gives you an advantage of having the most appealing and contemporary looking product.
Improvements often have much easier market penetration. There is no need to educate the end user what your particular product does and how it is used. Even when protecting your IP the specific improvements are related to the 'prior art' or existing products. Many consider improvements to have greater chances to succeed than brand new innovative products.
REINTRODUCTION of the OLD PRODUCT
Y ou might want to reintroduce the existing product into different markets. Although this seems as quite naïve approach, reintroduction of bicycles such as "BMX" and later "mountain bike," or recently introduced SAGWAY scooter were prime examples of successful business moves. Products, which were exclusively for adults, now are sold as toys, such as digital watches and calculators. Common denominator of all reintroductions is the implementation of the latest design trends and technological advancements. On the example of "mountain bike" we learn how one very old invention was moved from unprofitable industry and almost reserved for companies in underdeveloped countries at that time, to become golden egg of kin entrepreneurs investing in good product development. Bicycles are now matter of fashion, reflecting personality and life style of the end user.
KEY TO SUCCESS - MARKET ORIENTED ENGINEERINGS uccessful product development obviously depends on knowledge of market and end user expectations, perfect engineering and good timing. While focusing on core business and specific in hose know-how large corporations are loosing pace with market. Recognizing inability to quickly follow market trends large corporations seek professional help from PD consulting companies which are providing expertise in market oriented engineering.
It is misconception that product development is done by manufactures. In fact the most of the product development is done by consulting companies. For example manufacturers of cellular phones focus on development of the electronics while design of the final product with its user interface is outsourced to several product development companies.