At Leardon Solutions we specialize in end-to-end product development and we’re often asked why the end-to-end product development solution is ideal for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Below are 4 reasons why you and your organization may consider end-to end-product development. It could save you a significant amount of time an money.
In the product development world where service providers are specialized and fragmented, entrepreneurs and the like will often find it necessary to play the role of Product Development Manager and integrate all aspects of the product development life cycle. Who else is going to pull all of this together if it is difficult to find a service provider that can provide an end-to-end product development solution, fulfilling all the needs of the company from the product idea all the way through manufacturing? In fact, there are service providers that can provide an end-to-end solution to micro-enterprises, thereby providing a more effective solution than one where the entrepreneur plays program manager. Below are four reasons why it is best for entrepreneurs and small/medium enterprises to work with a team that is capable of developing your product from beginning to end.
A “big picture” perspective
There are many tradeoffs and compromises that must be made during product development as it isn’t always possible to meet each and every product objectives. One of the first tasks that a program manager performs when starting a project is to prioritize the program objectives. This involves determining if product features, product schedule, or product cost has higher priority. This prioritization gives the product development team a “big picture” perspective which allows them to optimize the complete program rather than just optimizing certain aspects of the project.
The product development process is like a balloon. When the balloon is pressed down in one place, it bulges in another place since there is a set volume of air in the balloon. The constraints and objectives of product development are similar to the volume of air in the balloon. For example, part cost can be lowered by investing in high-volume production tooling. This tooling is expensive but necessary if a low part cost is required. Pushing in one area (lower part costs) causes bulging in another area (higher tooling cost). In product development, it is important to see the big picture by understanding how the product objectives are affected by the constraints of the program. An end-to-end service provider who understands that ownership is required across all phases of the project will provide the big picture perspective and optimize the complete program rather than optimizing specific parts of the program.
Nothing “falls through the cracks”
Typically, service providers specialize in some aspect of the product development life cycle. This could be mechanical design, prototype fabrication, injection molding tools, or production parts. This service provider specialization creates a fragmented industry that doesn’t satisfy the needs of micro-enterprises. Therefore, it is helpful to have a program manager on the team who not only understands the product development life cycle but also knows how to direct and manage the service providers. When somebody who hasn’t worked completely through the product development life cycle manages a project, it is very likely that some deliverables will be forgotten or overlooked which will make program continuity difficult.
When deliverables and program objectives end up “falling through the cracks”, the team becomes inefficient, wasting time and money. Avoid this by either hiring an experienced product development program manager to integrate the fragmented service providers or hiring a service provider who can seamlessly use their team from the start of the program through the end to fulfill all the needs.
“Built in” accountability
Accountability diminishes as more service providers are added to work on a project. Here is a very common example. A product designer from one company might be hired to design a part that will be handed off to another company who will fabricate the part. The outcome is typically a less than optimal design since designers and fabricators typically have conflicting goals and objectives. This scenario usually results in multiple redesigns and requires more time and money than necessary to complete the task.
The idea of using many different service providers on a program could result in wasted time and money. A more efficient team is one where one service provider is accountable for the product, from the idea all the way through production. In the above example, if the designer and the fabricator worked for the same service provider, a discussion on tooling and fabrication would take place at the start and during the design of the part.
Lower overall cost
Product development efficiency results in faster time to market and lower overall cost. This in return leads to profit which can be reinvested for new products or product improvements. If external service providers are being used for product development, an end-to-end service provider will result in the most efficient and effective solution.
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Need more information? Please contact us with any questions or contact me directly at joseph.donoghue ( at ) leardon.com