Potential clients often ask, “How can you do this project more efficiently than our own highly experienced in-house team?” Well, it’s all about a system. While an in-house team has spent years learning internal processes and methodologies, we have spent years solving problems across a broad range of product categories and honing our learning skills. Many of us who work in contract product development today started out at OEMs with large internal development groups. We know firsthand the differences in required skills. To provide genuine value to our clients, we have sharpened our learning skills and developed a system for getting up to speed very quickly.
Research shows that most individuals who want get up to speed quickly share common practices. Here at BOLTGROUP, our system incorporates many of these practices. There are three major areas of focus: Assessment, Research, and Iteration. Let’s break these down.
Step one is assessment. Too often teams skip this and jump right into creating solutions. When assessing a potential project, our goals are to determine the breadth and depth of what we need to learn, decide how we can leverage team members’ existing skills and knowledge, and set goals. It can be difficult to envision what we don’t know, but we draw a hard line in the sand and move forward. Most often project complexity and scheduling requires that we delegate areas we don’t fully grasp to more knowledgeable team members.
Step two is research. I like the word “research” as opposed to “learning” because research suggests that we are gathering facts and insights rather than working towards mastery. We need to move quickly, so we’re gathering and organizing only information that will be instrumental in moving forward. We utilize many methods and resources when researching a new project. We check Google and the Internet, read research papers, pull patents, review and purchase competitive / similar products, and interview: survey users, SMEs, in-house engineers and product managers and manufacturers.
The final step is iteration. This is often where we learn exactly what we don’t know. Our goal is to use the assessment and research from steps one and two to identify a group of possible solutions, select the most viable solution, and test it as swiftly as possible. Sometimes the solution doesn’t meet initial goals or can even change the goals altogether. In these cases, we assess the solution to discover specifically what we did not know, and feed that back into the first two steps of the process to produce another improved iteration of the solution. On a recent project for a medical device delivery system, we used our initial knowledge to quickly design and prototype three different solutions. After testing those solutions, none of which were amazingly effective, we had many new, valuable insights to base an iterative solution. If we had picked one direction from the beginning it could have been a significantly more protracted path to those insights.
These simple three steps and years of experience walking through them, allow us to rapidly get up to speed on any project, and provide trusted and insightful solutions to clients across a broad range of industries.