Phase One: Why Industrial Design & Engineering Teams Need to Work Together

Product Development

Once you’ve successfully completed the product definition activities in Phase Zero of the product development process, it’s time to move on to Phase One. In this blog, we’ll discuss best practices for Phase One and why it’s critical that industrial designers and engineers work together to move through the proof-of-concept efforts of this phase.

What is Phase One of the Product Development Process?

Goddard Inc. Industrial design & product developmentIn Phase One of the product development process, it’s up to your industrial design and engineering team to take the research, ideas, and concepts from Phase Zero and begin moving toward a functional prototype design.

This is the proof-of-concept phase. It’s all about de-risking the most critical elements of the product and proving to yourself that there is a feasible path forward.

It’s critical that your designers and engineers are working closely during this phase. All of your product’s design features are established based on product requirements.

While your engineers are building out rough computer-aided design (CAD) and creating early prototype designs, your industrial design team can use that information to adjust the product’s design and create sketches of the product.

This is where collaboration really shines: as your engineers learn more about the product’s key mechanisms and functionality, those learnings can be fed directly back into the industrial design process. This phase works best when the design process is iterative, collaborative, and evolutionary.

During this phase of the product development plan, it’s also not uncommon to build a “works-like” model and a “looks-like” model of the product. The “works-like” model should demonstrate the functionality but not the final look of the product. The “looks-like” model does the opposite; it demonstrates the form but not the product’s functionality.

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Why is Phase One important? What’s at stake?

This phase serves as a refinery, where all of the concepts and research from Phase Zero are fleshed out and ran through their paces. On the other side of this phase, you should end up with a cohesive product that meets its requirements.

If this phase is rushed – or skipped altogether – trouble with the product’s design could show up down the road, leading to production delays or burdensome costs.

Phase One of the product development process also helps to facilitate innovation. Through testing and prototyping, your industrial design and engineering teams may come up with more elegant and efficient designs to meet your product’s requirements.

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Questions to ask during Phase One

1. What is going to be the most difficult problem to solve?

Tackle this first!

2. Are there aspects of the design that could kill the project if they can’t be solved?

If so, come up with an alternate approach and pursue both designs, resources permitting.

3. Has this key feature met the “good enough” standard?

Depending on the feature, spending a lot of time on refinement at this stage may not translate to time saved down the road. For now, focus on meeting your basic requirements for every feature.

4. Is there a market for this product?

An important and essential question for any and all phases of the product development process – this will help to keep your product’s users top-of-mind.

5. What do potential customers think of this design?

It is worth looking at the target market and evaluating which features are critical and which need to be adjusted.

6. How do we know what a passing product is?

Establish your testing standards and hold your designs accountable to those standards.

7. What requirements will we need to satisfy in order to feel assured that we have a feasible product?

Read More About Medical Device Regulations

Your Phase One Checklist:

Here is a list of things you should aim to accomplish during your Phase One activities:

  1. Create rough CAD of designs.
  2. Prototype and test designs based on determined pass/fail criteria – downselect, if needed.
  3. Confirm market demand.
  4. Get preliminary feedback from your product’s target user group.
  5. Begin evaluating and mapping out future tasks that will require extra time and attention.

Streamline All Phases by Partnering With A Product Development Company

Industrial Design Product Development ProcessThere is a lot of important work that goes into Phase One of the product development process. Maybe you’ve done the work required for product definition, but you’re stuck when it comes to developing and testing early prototypes to prove your concept.

No problem – by partnering with a product development company, all phases in the product development plan can be streamlined to accelerate time to market, reduce waste, and meet regulations.

At Goddard Inc., our team of engineers and designers are well-versed in Phase One activities for medical device development, life sciences and diagnostics, and high-tech consumer and industrial technologies.

From concept to production, our highly-skilled engineers and designers deliver a competitive difference with our on-site partnership model, quality commitment, collaborative expertise, and unique employee development programs.

We would love to hear about what you’re working on.

Tell us about your project and let’s begin a conversation about creating products with technical precision and elegant design.

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