Have you designed my product before?
As of writing this, Impulse Product Development has just passed it’s 15th anniversary. As you might imagine, over those years we have worked will many different companies in many different industries. However, without fail, every time we talk with a potential new client the question comes up, “Have you designed my product before?”.
Obviously, they don’t ask it that way. But, if it’s a medical product company, they ask, “What’s your experience with designing medical products?”, or “What types of medical products have you designed?” If it’s a juvenile products company, “Tell me about your juvenile product experience?” “Can you show me some examples of juvenile products you’ve designed.”
I recently got the question, “What kind of medical products have you designed?”. While the prospect is trying to qualify us, what that question is really trying to do is disqualify us. If I answer, we haven’t designed any medical products they, most likely, won’t use us. If I answer, we’ve designed 100’s, at least the conversation can continue, but knowing that we’ve designed 100’s of medical products doesn’t answer the real questions they have.
What if we did, in fact, design 100’s of medical products, but designed them all poorly? What if we completed the job for the client, but ended up designing a product that was much more costly to manufacture than it should have been. What if we designed all of the products well but they were late and over budget?
I understand that line of questioning, “what’s your experience?”. That’s how we’re taught to make decisions. We do this with our personal purchases and we typically do it with business decisions. When we go to buy a TV we look at size, cost, resolution, warranty, etc… Then we compare TV A to TV B, C, D, etc… to make our decision. We compare all of the features and benefits and make a decision.
That’s usually a fine way to make decisions. But does it make sense when choosing a vendor to help you develop your product? When we talk with prospects the questions they ask typically revolve on gathering the following criteria:
- How long we’ve been in business
- Our experience in their industry
- Our company size
I would argue that none of those matter. I would bet, that the prospect really doesn’t care how long we’ve been around, what our experience is, and how big our company is. I would argue that what really matters is can we get the job done on time and on budget?
Will you care if we have 20 years of experience if we design the product poorly?
Will you care if we started the company yesterday if we designed the product well?
Will you care if we have 30 designers is if we finish the product design late?
Will you care if we have 1 designer if we finish the product on time?
With regards to experience in your industry, you’re the one with the experience. You’re the expert. No outside design firm knows your company and your industry better than you. Do you need a design engineer with experience in your industry? Or, do you need a design engineer that knows how to quickly adapt to your company’s needs and culture and that knows how to harness the knowledge that lies within your company?
We recently had a prospect ask us how much consumer product experience we have. After about 15 minutes of discussing different products we’ve designed, we found out that the product they wanted help designing was simply two plastic housings that capture a PCB. We’ve designed 100’s of housings that mate together. It doesn’t matter what the industry: consumer products, sporting goods, medical products, automotive products, you name it, if someone has designed two plastic housings that mate together for one industry, they can just as easily design them for another industry. The parts are assembled the same way. The tolerances are the same. And the molds open and close the same way.
The point I’m trying to make is, industry specific experience, a certain company size, and how long we’ve been in business don’t really matter. Yes – I understand that I’m oversimplifying things. But what you’re really looking for is someone to fill a gap. You have a gap that needs filled, or you wouldn’t be looking for outside help. Maybe you’re concerned because you need someone to pick up some slack on a project that is running behind. Maybe you’re frustrated because you don’t have enough designers to complete all of the products you need to have designed. Our job is to fill those gaps – and we’re good at it. If you would like to see a list of gaps that we have helped clients with in the past, go to this blog post.
I challenge you to change your questioning and the conversation to correspond with the gap that needs filled. Do you need someone to jump onto your team to help finish a product because you’re struggling with manpower issues? Ask about our experience in doing that. Are you concerned because you don’t have plastic or injection molding experience? Ask about that experience. Maybe you don’t really know what you need, but know you need something. That’s ok too, we get those calls a lot. I encourage you to give us a call or fill out our contact form. Then let’s have a conversation about how we can help you fill the gaps you need filled.
Impulse Product Development is a team of experienced engineers and experts that specialize in new product development, industrial and conceptual design, engineering, CAD technologies, rapid and virtual prototyping, contract manufacturing and management and reverse engineering. Centrally-headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, Impulse serves clients across the country.