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I Should Have Thought of That Sooner

Designing new products from scratch is a risky business. The first concept is usually big and bold. Just remember to think of the details first.

For example, we decided to design a module that will allow embedded measurement under Linux, use the latest, greatest ARM chip, and exploit the hidden virtues of its internals. The result will be a fabulous product that will measure real time signals at high accuracy and use very low power within an embedded system—all at a very low price.

That's the first wave of the product definition. Then comes the second wave. Basic questions come up. Who will buy it? What market is it aimed at? Do we have the resources? Has sales asked for this?

These are all good questions and we have to do our best to answer them up front. But let's face it, no one knows the exact answers. Sure, we’ll put together a product definition, put a cost goal together, get input from sales, and even target the resources to get it done. But we are on a quest! We've dreamed it up and we can't get bogged down by naysayers. So let's just get started and figure it out as we go. If we don't, someone else will beat us to the punch, and we'll have egg on our faces.

In my experience, this is the normal approach for big new ventures. So, what is the normal outcome of this approach?

The development gets started. Engineering has the concept and their vision the product. Sure, there's much to be learned, discovered, vendors to get information from, engineering meetings to decide who does what and a schedule to get to the next phase.

The ideal process would be to work hard on a detailed definition of what the product will be that gets delivered in the future. In other words, do the brochure first that the customer will see as the end product. Show pictures, customer apps, etc. of what would go in the final product.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.

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