of Florida


  A New Product Development Company









Design Steps Overview

The Development Step Process
for Electronic Products

Development of new products requires that an orderly set of phases or "steps" be followed by the engineering, marketing, and manufacturing teams to avoid costly mistakes. Industry experience has demonstrated that it may cost three to ten times more to correct oversights, which should have been accomplished in a preceding phase. A summary of the primary Steps, which have come to be generally accepted as an efficient development process, follows. Emphasis here is on the engineering design aspects, but they apply in principle to all company divisions such as marketing and finance.

STEP ZERO: Introductory Phase

Initial product definition and "getting to know each other" phase. This phase also highlights major work tasks to be done.

STEP ONE: Concept, Feasibility, Spec. Study

A product is broadly defined based upon a perceived market need. Marketing and Engineering jointly determine market, technical and regulatory feasibility. Intense government regulations in most industries determine a design as much as market requirements.  Engineering may model high-risk subsystems to build needed technical confidence. They then issue a summary report of findings and a beginning product specification.

Deliverable: One or more technical study reports are created which typically summarizes study findings and a preliminary product specification with sketches, etc.

STEP TWO: First Prototype (Lab Proto / Alpha Proto)

A project team is selected, a kick-off meeting is held and product spec.'s are further defined along with regulatory requirements (U/L, IEC, EU, FDA, RoHS, etc.) A "lab-protoype" model is designed and built to assure design bugs are corrected before commitment to tooling. Documentation and computer "firmware/ software"  code are usually informal during this phase. Engineering and marketing meetings are held as needed to formalize a first working product specification. Industry experience has shown that many clients push to bypass this phase and rush to get the product tooled prematurely. This has proven to be a costly mistake! Occasionally, the product needs further definition in the "field" and then an "alpha" prototype is made and deployed to get real-world performance data. Thus, this Step may sometimes be split into two distinct steps.

Deliverable: A Lab Prototype and/ or "alpha" working model, minimum documentation, a  more complete specification, and a summary report.

STEP THREE: Production Prototypes

This Step requires funding for parts, build, and tooling (plastic molds, PWB's, panel graphics, initial regulatory compliance testing, etc.) for a small number of the product. The product team is expanded to include manufacturing personnel. The team creates a more detailed specification (and marketing focus group study, financial plans, etc.) Engineering then designs, documents, tools and procures sufficient parts to manufacture and test a small evaluation build (2 to 5 typical). These prototypes may be used for regulatory testing, marketing shows, etc. but are NOT usually sold.

Deliverable: Completed primary manufacturing documentation and 2 to 5 working prototypes. Initial regulatory agency test results and needed product changes are also completed, if applicable.

STEP FOUR:  Pilot Production

The first fully controlled and documented products are made for initial sales during this Step. This is a vital phase for cooperation between engineering and the manufacturing company personnel. Typically ten to twenty products are made with responsibility gradually shifting from engineering to full manufacturing operations as engineering completes and debugs both the product and its documentation. Test procedures and test sets are needed to support manufacturing.

Deliverable: Complete manufacturing documentation, fully trained manufacturing personnel, test sets and a modest quantity of delivered product.

STEP FIVE: Early Production

During this phase, manufacturing personnel largely handle the product's build and support. The documentation is placed under formal control (ECN's, DCO's, etc.) and engineering provides sign-off and review of any needed changes until the product is technically stable.

Contact EDA for a more detailed "Development Steps" handout

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Electronic Design Associates
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