THE CONDUIT

Product Development: How Do I Know If I'm Doing It Right?

Posted by Paul Check on May 23, 2018

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Every OEM and product developer is obsessed with answering the question, “What’s next?” There are a number of places to look for the next new product, but the sheer number of ideas can become confusing and noisy. So, how do you find the idea behind the next big thing, and how do you assure yourself that the idea you choose or are currently working on will be a winner? These are complicated questions, and the process for answering them won’t be the same for everyone. While it’s tempting to say, “It depends,” and let go of outcome until you get there, tools exist that can build a story around a new product’s potential and help identify whether it will be successful.

Creating Leverage With Product Road Mapping

Product road mapping is a tool used by a number of product development teams to define and analyze competitive and customer landscapes. To do so successfully requires two key steps:

  • Identifying and understanding customer preferences surrounding needs, wants, dislikes, etc., to create a profile of the ideal customer level of performance
  • Evaluating and ranking how well current market solutions – including any you may have in the marketplace – meet the required customer level of performance

Once a complete list of customer preferences is compiled, and all existing product solutions are ranked, it will become very clear which ideas and directions look most promising. This is something called “leverage.” Leverage is a grade of how well your proposed product performance in a certain need category aligns with the top level required by the customer.

The Limitations of Leverage

There are limits to leverage. For example, a car that goes 500 miles per hour may sound great for customer who says “I want to go fast.” However, for the average customer, 80-90 mph is fast enough. While a car can be designed to go faster than 80-90 mph, most customers do not value that enhancement and will not pay thousands of dollars more for it. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that 90 mph is the top end of speed leverage limit. Framing each need in this context will help you identify the minimum amount of performance customers require to consider a purchase, and the point at which customers place no further value on that need.

Not understanding these leverage limitations is a classic mistake made by OEMs and product developers who often assume that if some is good, more is better. It’s a safe assumption – to a point. When that point is reached, further investments in that area will not produce results.

Product road mapping helps product development teams avoid these common pitfalls and focus their energy and resources on areas that have a large value enhancement to the customer. Innovate 44, with Village Partner MCL’s help, collaborates with OEMs on product road mapping by reviewing specs and overseeing the road mapping process to ensure efficient use of resources and proper alignment of those resources with the product development strategy. If you’re interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to contact MCL to review your project and start the process of creating a more focused product development process.

Product road mapping provides valuable insights into which ideas to pursue – and which will be winners. To apply a similar process to assessing and selecting supply chain partners, use the Prospective Supplier Evaluation Checklist. This points-based worksheet lets you score each potential supplier in four key areas: expertise, quality, reputation and financials. Click the button below to access you copy of this valuable tool now!

Prospective Supplier Evaluation Checklist

Topics: Manufacturing/Operations, The Village, Engineering


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