Originally Published MDDI March 2004
Product Development Insight
Stephen G. Hauser
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• All industrial design firms are not created equal. The close one may not be the best match. A good industrial design relationship may be worth millions to your company. Do not settle for convenience.
• A proposal is costly to develop. Be honest and be prepared to provide timely and accurate information to each ID team.
• If this is your first experience in selecting a design firm, pick one you feel may be a proper fit; ask for help in understanding how to present your needs in a proposal format for the best results.
• If you are unsure of which ID firms to approach, ask a few that may be a good match to suggest other firms they respect.
• Do not lightly shop design firms asking for a proposal, thinking it will give you direction. It wastes your time and theirs.
• Do not approach 8 or 10 design firms with a product brief in hand. Requesting input from many at one time is a sign that you don't know what you are doing.
• Shoot-outs, or asking more than one firm to compete against another, are most often suggested by companies who don't know what they really want. They are very expensive, and usually produce more questions and confusion. Proper evaluation of industrial designers should be made before the program begins.
• Do not ask for a rendering first or expect to talk about styling as the solution to your problems. This approach will date you and make any qualified industrial designer bristle.
• Present a complete concept of the proposed product and its needs to the potential ID firms to ensure that the proposals you receive address real problems.
• Be prepared to explain the functions of the product.
• Expect the ID team to ask questions that are probing and expanding.
• Expect the industrial design team to ask questions about how and by whom the product is to be used.
• Expect the industrial design team to be able to visualize manufacturing alternatives based on projected production quantities over a given period of time.
• Provide the selected firms with the same information, but be aware that the proposal structure you receive will not be the same.
• Do not try to structure the proposal, phase by phase, in advance. You may inadvertently eliminate a step in the process that could have been suggested by the designer. The design firm should address the issues raised, but have the courage and the experience to offer a modified approach to include areas that your company may not have considered.
• Maintain a sense of humor. Product development should be fun.
• Listen to each other, and respect those who can give up their ideas when a better solution has been suggested.
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