When should you develop a product further?
Few products stay completely unchanged as time goes on, as renewals and continuous improvement become increasingly important, especially in highly competitive fields. Improving a product’s features may be a primary area for further development from a customer’s perspective. In business, however, it is costs that are always under scrutiny, which is why the most common areas of further development are related to cost factors.
Cost savings motivate further development
When the aim is to reduce the costs of a product, the process often starts with developing the manufacturing process. The reason is that manufacturing costs are one of the most significant factors that affect the product’s final price. The product’s manufacturing usually includes multiple steps, such as material choices, manufacturing methods, and assembly, and there can be room for improvements in each of them. Even small changes can generate huge savings, particularly when manufacturing large numbers of the same product.
You should consider the product’s materials with an open mind. By changing all or just some materials, you can find new options for manufacturing methods and save on raw material costs. For example, by changing some parts from metal to plastic, you can save on costs and make your product lighter. Metal parts involve a machined manufacturing process, whereas plastic parts can be manufactured quickly and in large numbers with different casting methods. The larger the manufactured quantities, the cheaper the casting methods usually are. Conversely, the machined manufacturing of a single part costs approximately the same whether you manufacture 100 or 10,000 units.
In addition to part manufacturing, the assembly of parts into a finished product has a significant impact on a product’s final price. Whether the parts are put together with automation or manually by an employee, improving the assembly is often a good area for further development and cost savings. Clear areas for development include combining separate parts into one part, or changing the shape and size of parts so that they are easier to attach to one another. The parts can be designed in a shape that makes it impossible to assemble them in the wrong order or the wrong way around, which reduces unnecessary work and the number of defective products.
Competition keeps the wheels turning
As we said above, costs are often a good reason for further development. Still, it is important to remember that simply having an affordable product does not necessarily make the product better than the competition. The end customer is not only comparing prices, but also the product’s features and other technical information that the customer then uses to decide which product is best. To make the product stand out by not just the price, it can be developed, e.g., by adding features, improving its energy efficiency, or making it easier to use, maintain and repair. You can also make the product more ergonomic or improve its appearance.
The product and its further development are almost always unique projects. Because of this, it is not as easy to think of examples for product development as it is for costs. After all, the features that are considered important depend entirely on the product. Whether we are talking about appearance, ergonomics, or ease of use, prioritisation varies on a case-by-case basis: appearance or overall weight are not as important for a large industrial machine as they are for a handheld piece of entertainment technology.
Does a product need further development or not?
Although there is no shared recipe for further development between different products, the need for further development can be considered with the same questions. The questions regarding the need for further development are: Are the product’s manufacturing costs too high? Does manufacturing the product take too much time and too many resources? Does the product have any unnecessary features or parts? Is the product missing a feature that customers would appreciate? Does the product work as intended? Could the product work better? Could the product be easier to use? Is the product’s appearance modern and pleasing? Do the product’s materials fit the product’s purpose?
If the product is working as intended, is cheap and affordable to manufacture, pleases customers who buy it consistently, and looks stylish, further development is most likely unnecessary. However, if one of the questions listed above made you think or raised concerns, it might be necessary to explore the potential for further development.
Even if you cannot think of areas for further development easily, we experts in product development know just what questions to ask. We will help you find out which aspects of your product need further development, and we will offer the best solutions for getting things done.
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