When developing a new hardware product, there is much wisdom that comes from experience. Here are 3 of the common pitfalls that I have seen.
(1) Failure to Clearly define the Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
The biggest (and most costly) mistake I see, is that companies define a minimum viable product (MVP) with too many features. The minimum viable product needs to be a realistic balance of marketing requirements and resources that focuses on solving a compelling problem. You should do copious market research to figure out the right balance between the value of each feature in the MVP and how much that feature will cost to develop, produce, market, and support. Every unnecessary feature that is eliminated will shorten your time and costs to market.
(2) Failure to Create a Test Plan
Once you define and build your MVP, how will you know if it works? Many times, companies simply start using the prototype and doing some ad hoc testing. But there should be a checklist that clearly links prototype testing to marketing requirements. For example, if “all day battery life” is a marketing requirement, there should be a test that measures how much power the product consumes during each use case to demonstrate quantifiably that the battery will last all day. This is much better than the ad hoc alternative of using the product for a few days and generally observing battery life.
The test plan is especially important if you are hiring a firm to do the development work. The test plan should be the first thing you develop with the firm. This will set up clear expectations on both sides for the work that will be performed. Once the plan is developed and work begins, you will need to be flexible. Development will undoubtedly uncover unknowns costs and challenges that will require changes to the MVP and consequently the test plan.
(3) Assuming it will be Perfect the First Time
Both experienced product developers and amateurs tend to underestimate the effort required to build a new product. Newcomers often assume the first prototype will be ready to go to production. However, the development process is an iterative one.
For new products using new technologies, you might go through ten iterations before you are ready for production. You should be ready to iterate and strip out any features that are not critical for success.
When you are ready to develop your product, you should give us a call. We can talk through your marketing requirements and available resources and help you define your minimum viable product with an accompanying test plan. We can then work with you to design, build, test and evaluate it until you are ready to launch it in the marketplace.
Photos by Chris & Karen Highland