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The upshot: Proper execution of Phase Zero is crucial in setting up your product development plan for success. In this phase, you’ll establish design and performance specifications for your product that will form a solid foundation on which you can begin your engineering activities. Conduct this phase thoughtfully and you can avoid expensive missteps down the line.
The success of any product development plan has always been rooted in how seriously the developers take Phase Zero. The goal of this phase is to clearly understand the problem at hand, establish product requirements, and thoroughly detail scoping activities.
In Phase Zero, the big question that needs to be answered is this: what is the product you’re developing?
During this phase, product specifications and key performance indicators should take form in detail. These specifications provide a solid “design foundation” on which you can begin to build preliminary assumptions that allow for the next phase (ideation and conceptualization) to take place in a focused manner. Phase Zero is also the right time to identify roles and responsibilities for you and your team.
To set your product development plan off on the right foot, you need to know what kinds of questions to ask during your Phase Zero activities.
Here is a sample list to get you started – you’ll notice that most of these questions are aimed at clearly defining product requirements.
“Before you put pencil to napkin, before you wreck a few whiteboards and before you consider styling lines, surface finish and color – you have to nail Phase Zero,” – Andrew Goddard.
Think of Phase Zero as the foundation for the rest of your product’s development. When it comes to product design, designers take their cues from product requirements established during Phase Zero activities.
If design begins based on requirements that have not been properly evaluated, you could end up designing a great system – on time and under budget – but it won’t ultimately meet the user’s needs.
Phase Zero is also the time to clarify roles and responsibilities among your team members – failure to do this and the lack of a common understanding can send projects into a time sink.
One of the biggest consequences of a poorly-conducted Phase Zero is “scope creep”. If you don’t properly assess your product’s requirements in Phase Zero, you may find that your team is adding or replacing features late in the product development process. This can seriously delay project timelines and cost you loads of money.
It’s essential that you get really clear on your product’s requirements before moving on from Phase Zero and stay true to those ideas as you develop – this will keep you from jumping head-first into costly deviations later in the process.
Read More About Medical Device Regulations
Finally, Phase Zero is the opportunity to back up your product requirements and specifications with data. Challenge your assumptions and establish quantifiable metrics for your product – try to move away from qualitative specifications such as ‘maximize horsepower’. This will help ensure that you design and build a product that actually meets people’s needs.
Here is a list of things you should aim to accomplish during your Phase Zero activities:
Learn how working with an Industrial Design Company can save time and resources in the product development process.
There is a lot of important work that goes into this first phase of the product development process. Maybe you have a brilliant idea on your hands but you’re not sure where to start when it comes to user research and product specifications.
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 Zero 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.
Tell us about your project and let’s begin a conversation about creating products with technical precision and elegant design.