Developing Products To Deliver Value


Jonathan Prince is the managing director of Motovated Design and Analysis. For further information visit

The design process is a tough thing to get right. Many companies would like to develop a new product but few really understand what it takes to develop a successful product, the right way to go about it or the real costs in behind it.

The result is often a project that, if you’re lucky, gets to market simply well over budget. If you’re not lucky, gets to market very late. Or if you’re particularly unlucky – gets to market over budget, late and, low and behold, it doesn’t actually meet the customer’s need! Sound familiar?

Interestingly enough, the scenario that gets targeted the most is the cost overruns as this is the easiest to measure and the most tangible. It is however, the least of a company’s worries in terms of return on investment.

It’s a tough market out there and your competitors are working just as hard to get their product to market and no doubt they see the same opportunities you do too. All products have a finite life in the market and in this day and age, that life span is only getting shorter.

If a product is late to market, it doesn’t extend the life of the product; it simply reduces the ability of that product to generate a return. And this impacts it

in the most profitable years. Product adoption speed doesn’t necessarily change and neither does the product’s twilight. It’s the number of profitable years that get impacted.

When developing a product, companies really need to focus on utilising a robust development process that:

  • Identifies the core product requirements early
  • Ensures the product targets the ‘latent’ or underlying need of the customer
  • Gets that product to market as quickly as possible.

This brings me to my next point of really understanding the latent, or unmet, customer need and developing your

product to target that need to set it apart from the competition.

Many companies are notorious for just jumping right into designing a product without the upfront market research and analysis that’s required to ensure their product will hit the mark.

We’ve all been there… someone high up in the company, rightly or wrongly, perceives a need.

Without any real market research, the ‘urgent’ project gets thrust in front of the engineering team. Everyone else puts their five cents in and the project morphs into an uncontrollable beast.

Budgets go out the window, estimated timeframes are long since passed, the engineers have their heads buried in their hands and management says ‘what a waste of money that was’.

If companies are to survive and prosper I’m a firm believer we must innovate to create ‘value added’ product that commands a premium and sets itself apart from the competition.

However, to do this without incurring unsustainable costs requires a well thought out and well executed process. Too often companies cut these simple corners only to find that it bears a huge cost.

If you’ve been struggling with your product development costs or are looking to start developing product and not sure how to take the first step, you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary heartache by setting up a robust development process before you go any further.

About the author: Jonathan has an impressive track-record in product design. His experience stems from working for some of the leading design companies in NZ, including Tait Radio Communications, Formway, Intercad and InFact. Jonathan is passionate about NZ innovation and has a strong focus on business development, process and sustainable design.

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