1. Define the product

‘Our first phase of work is defining the criteria and the requirements for the product that needs to get built. A lot of times people rush through this stage but it’s important because it will impact the overall strategy for how you bring it to the world.’

2. Design

‘From there we go through a design exercise. We’ll start with mood boards and come up with different concepts that we can present to the team, before we narrow it down to one to two directions we like.’

3. Get technical

‘The next phase of design is then really fleshing out the technical requirements for that product package. We have engineers on our team that can flesh out the engineering package but you’re just looking to add as much technical detail as you can.’

4. Find a manufacturing partner

‘We might have a vendor in our network already that specialises in the category, that we know will be a perfect match. If we don’t, we refine our technical specification and get it to a point where we can conduct a formal request for proposal with multiple vendors.’

5. Set up the supply chain

‘Once we’ve engaged a manufacturing partner, or gone through the formal RFP [request for proposal] process and whittled it down to the manufacturer we want to work with, we go through the supply chain set-up process. That entails working with the manufacturer to create high-fidelity prototypes and creating the moulds for manufacturing at scale.’

6. Test the product

‘We go through full-scale validation with our manufacturing partners, which means that we’re testing the product for reliability, for compliance and with users. And then we incorporate any feedback before we go into mass production.’

7. Mass produce

‘The final stage is mass production. We’re getting all of our SOPs [standard operating processes] in place and we’re gearing up for mass production at the manufacturer.’

How to find the right product development partners

For a lot of people without the budget to hire a product development agency, finding the right people to work with will need to be tackled in-house. Here Justin shares some useful tips to follow.

Look for designers with relevant experience. ‘Every product has nuances around what can and can’t be done, so it’s super-helpful to work with somebody that has experienced some of the pain points or friction in their previous work.’

Use the same partner for non-critical parts. ‘For example, if packaging is not a core part of your offering, just ask your manufacturing partner if they’ve got a packaging vendor they regularly work with instead of trying to find your own.’

Avoid yes men in design or manufacturing. ‘You want to find and engage somebody who is going to challenge any unrealistic or overly simplified approaches you might initially be thinking about. Partners that say things like, “I know that your target schedule is X, but actually, realistically, it’s going to be Y.”’

Prepare for the unknown. ‘If you are creating something new, then there are going to be unknowns around the process of bringing that product into the world. There is going to be uncertainty. You have to be comfortable knowing that we might get four months into the process and there’s going to be a learning that will force us to pivot or make something different than what you expected.’

More: Get to know Doris Dev here

This article was first published in Courier issue 39, February/March 2021. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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