Some people say, “Enjoy the ride; it’s not just about getting to the destination,” or something like that. For some things in life that’s true, and good advice. It’s also true, to a degree, for product development. We enjoy the process of building new systems. Helping our clients solve their problems is what we do, and we have fun doing it. But product development usually has strict expectations for budget and schedule. This isn’t a casual joyride. A product development is a purposeful endeavor, and in some cases we are setting out to do something which has never been done before.
In some ways, a product development is like going on a trip to explore a new place. With most trips you will have a budget and a schedule, such as $10k for a two-week vacation to Spain. Product development is no different. These limits can constrain the carefree “enjoy the ride” philosophy. We can’t spend unlimited time and budget along a meandering path to completion. It should be as straight and efficient as possible to maximize value for our client. Running out of cash in Spain wouldn’t be fun, and neither is exhausting your development budget before completion.
Sometimes the path to our destination is not what we predicted. There are usually surprises and unknowns along the path of development for new products. Through 25 years of business, we have learned what kinds of things to expect, and it is not for the faint of heart. We need to have a clear picture of the target – where we are going – and be intentional and determined to get there. That’s why some people also say, “Start with the end in mind.” The target endpoint for all projects is client satisfaction. We can’t achieve that without knowing what the client wants. At the end of the day we are going to hand off a deliverable. It could be a functional prototype, printed circuit board, a release of firmware or software, or a mechanical prototype. So how do we know when the deliverable is ready? How can we be confident that it will meet client expectations?
Requirements are the common ground between a client and a product development team. Without good requirements, the path to developing the right thing and achieving client satisfaction is much more challenging. Requirements are a primary expression of client needs and expectations, a primary reference for design and development, and a primary standard for testing and verification. So if we want to start with the end in mind for the sake of an efficient and successful journey, what’s the endpoint? Satisfying requirements.
Simple, but not easy. That’s why the Indesign firmware team started an improvement initiative in 2019 to refine how we approach requirements. This blog serves as an introduction to a blog series of what we’ve learned from that initiative. Over the next few months, I’ll continue to dig a little deeper by focusing on how Indesign actually applies these lessons to the projects we work on every day.
Indesign, LLC proudly provides electrical design, software design, mechanical design & engineering, and much more. For more information about our company or our services, please contact us at (317) 377-5450.