While developing a product, it is critical to determine a product development timeline and its key milestones , especially at an early stage. Authored by Vera Vasilevskaya, EnCata's content-manager.
Nowadays software development techniques evolve at a much faster rate than hardware development. Electronics engineers have to keep a close eye on IT sector trends, adopting and incorporating IT industry developments into their own processes. The truth is that online services are not the same as physical products. They're always evolving, and programmers may fine-tune them to meet the needs of their target audiences - update them, send them to the user swiftly, and obtain feedback shortly afterward. Electronics designers are denied this opportunity. They will not be able to meet the requirements for a previously published product until new device equipment is issued and delivered to the user. This makes meeting consumer expectations difficult for manufacturers. Here are some suggestions for efficient planning.
The first thing to consider is: "When should I begin planning?"
Begin planning at an early stage of development, before the engineers start designing the device. This will allow you to properly allocate your energies and show the consumer the desired product, on which they would like to follow up.
It is critical to have the right emotional attitude when developing a new hardware product: there will be several months or even years of hard work ahead that will be rewarding, but not immediately. Every now and then, a new device fails to sell well at first. Consumers may become aware of a product several years after it is released.
Many successful hardware companies, such as Oculus and Fitbit, took their time to gain traction. Products that quickly became commercially successful on the market, such as Nest, struggled to maintain their dominant market position. Their creators overinvested in the first version of the hardware and then spent all of their resources maintaining the existing features of the device. As a result, the product ceased to develop smoothly. It led to the demise of the company.
In addition to the appropriate emotional attitude and readiness to wait, it is important to:
- Create a viable business plan for your product. To put it differently, figure out how you can make money out of your product. This will be aided by research and analysis of business models of similar products and industry leaders, the so-called benchmarking, as well as an examination of the specifics of the legal, economic, and political environments in sales markets.
- Think through and organize a process of ongoing communication with prospective users. Customer Development will be useful during the last stages of product development and after the product has been released.
As we have already said, all of this is best done before the engineers begin working on the product or shortly after the Proof-of-Concept.
It is agreed that hardware development planning is divided into two phases: before and after the release of the first product version.
It is critical to understand that a product goes through multiple iterations before being delivered to the market, starting with Concept development and validation, MVP … , and ending with the final product.
In other words, the final product is presented as the ultimate experience gained from a set of product’s versions. The work on a hardware product can be separated into various categories: testing the technology, developing software, and designing the enclosure and packaging. For the consumer, each of these areas of work serves a different "purpose." Begin by determining the priority function and the module that performs it, then discarding anything that is not necessary. If you try to do everything at once, you will most likely fall short of your objective and only get through 10% of each module.
Many product owners find it difficult to prioritize effectively in the early stages. In this scenario, market research is necessary to determine what weaknesses competitors have, which features customers use, and which they consider unnecessary. The product owner can get insights that can positively influence the product's functioning and design at this point. Focus group research and device demonstrations provide the manufacturer with feedback on the desired design of the device, feature set, and ergonomics.
User research does not end with one-time surveys. It is critical for product development to obtain ongoing feedback from potential customers through the usage of customer development methodology. CustDev entails growing a firm from concept evaluation to business scaling through hypotheses testing and future product alternatives suggested by the target audience.
After the first version of the product has been edited, beta testing begins. The developer tests the nearly finished version of the product to identify and fix bugs in its operation.
User feedback serves as a sort of transition point between the first and second stages of new hardware product development. User feedback can influence a product team’s plans as early as the second stage of planning. The product team learns which fixes need to be made in the next version of the device and which "modules" need to be developed first. A product owner may discover that there is no need to add features that he or she thought were necessary when developing the first version, and that changing the packaging or color of the product is more important.
In addition to new hardware versions of the product, software updates also need to be released. Successful hardware manufacturers maintain a constant interest in their products by releasing new versions of mobile and web applications that help to retain consumer attention and continuously improve the user experience without requiring lengthy and resource-intensive hardware production.
Early version planning and proper prioritization can assist you in avoiding problems and completing the job correctly. Be aware that, no matter how good your idea or product, the first version is only the beginning of a long journey. The path to achieving your goal will be easier if you begin thinking about it early on. Before commencing sales, it is a good idea to plan tests of many versions of a product, each of which should serve a different purpose and address key issues. It is critical to build user trust from the early stages of product development. In the following article, we'll go over the stages of hardware product development at EnCata, from requirements gathering to product traceability.