Phase 0:
Product Definition

The goal of Phase 0 is to research and understand the problem at hand. We are essentially asking ourselves “How can we turn the need into a product?"

This phase is comprised solely of of research. This research will be broad and allow us to carefully frame our products' attributes and key performance indicators. A well thought out product definition will allow us to start a thorough Ideation and Conceptualization exercise in the next phase. The success of many great products has relied on a detailed product definition.

Phase 1:
Ideation and Conceptualization

The goal of Phase 1 is to generate initial ideas and develop them into viable concepts.

The key to a successful product starts with a number of effective brainstorming sessions to create a broad range of innovative concepts. These concepts will include multiple-use cases and mechanisms to help realize a broad group of feasible ideas. At this point, the developed concepts can be input into a Pugh Chart for selection and further refinement. Most times, a limited number of prototypes is necessary. These “proof of concept” prototypes are used near the end of this phase to prove the ability of the concepts to function at a basic level in the real world.

Phase 2:
Design Development

The goal of Phase 2 is to transform three solutions into complete designs.

This is the point in the process when potential designs will begin to take shape. The concepts and designs will be developed into working “Alpha” prototypes. These prototypes are not refined, but help prove the core functions of the product can be attained within an approximate form factor. These models are also useful to get initial user feedback for further refinement. These early prototypes will help drive the selection of the final mechanisms, forms, and functions that will ultimately become the final product.

Phase 3:
Refinement and Validation

The purpose of Phase 3 is to achieve final engineering and design of the chosen concepts and elements.

The final concepts and designs have now been selected, and some level of refinement has been applied. The culmination of the Alpha prototype testings, user feedback, and lessons learned will lead to a “Beta Prototype.” This prototype will look like and perform like the final product. At this point, a larger number of prototypes should be produced for more thorough testing to verify the operation and performance of the system and it’s individual components. The design process is nearing its end and the remainder of the work now is focused on production and manufacturing.

Phase 4:
Verification and Manufacturing Transfer

The focus of Phase 4 is preparation for manufacturing.

The product is now frozen and finalized, but some of the most important engineering efforts are still to come. The final CAD databases and drawing packages are complete. Now the process of vetting and selecting a manufacturer must be performed. Working with the chosen vendor, the tolerance drawings along with the assembly and process instructions must be reviewed and revised according to the chosen vendor's capabilities. At the conclusion of this phase, initial manufacturing will commence.

Phase 5:

At this phase, only sustaining engineering is needed after manufacturing has been validated.

The final product is ready for production. To start the first article pieces, part and components need to be reviewed and proven to meet quality and tolerance requirements. Next, assembly and production process must be qualified and refined. Once the process and quality targets have been met, the process can conclude with only limited on-demand engineering support as needed.