Make Your Case – Why a Business Case is a Critical Component for Transforming an Idea into a Successful Product
Co-Founder, Berlin KraftWorks Inc.
There’s nothing more exciting than that aha moment – when the light bulb goes off for a great new product. It’s very tempting to dive in right away and start building. But it’s all too easy to get carried away creating, and forget to consider what a new product must do to be successful.
At the end of the day, a product is going to have to be sellable, someone is going to have to want to buy it. It will also have to make the company a profit and it cannot expose the company to any undue risks. That sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot there to consider and it can drastically affect how a product is designed and built.
That first inspiration needs to be weighed against a few very important business decisions to understand if the product is viable, and if so, what are the conditions it will have to meet to be successful. Initially, those decisions will likely be based around market size, time to market and a predicted sales price (potential profit). Those 3 basic criteria are already more than enough to shape the conceptual design.
Building a business case to define the expectations for a new product helps to direct the development and avoid costly unusable labour and purchases. It also lets everyone in the company understand what the goals are for the new concept. A new product that doesn’t meet the business goals is not going to be successful.
The new product idea may come from anyone in the company. It may be from sales filling a customer need, engineering implementing some new tech, or really anyone in the company. A good idea can come from anywhere, but it’s very likely that no one person will fully understand everything that goes into making a successful product. The more input you get from throughout your company will allow you to build a more comprehensive business case.
Typically, when you start to look at the new concept with respect to selling, the idea will change. External input may prove some ideas incorrect or point out missing features. Looking at the end sales volumes and pricing may dictate the eventual manufacturing methods and change the materials, interface, feature set etc. That doesn’t mean the idea wasn’t a good one to start with, it’s just going to help that idea be successful.
As the product ideas are developed, the business case will be refined as well. Like every other design document, it will be a living document. There will be more detail around use cases, regional differences, shipping, manufacturing, industrial design, etc. that affect the company goals for the product.
Take the time to build a business case for every new product idea. They don’t need to be complicated, start with the basics. With a business case in hand, you can begin to develop the new idea in a direction that has much a higher chance of success.
Press Release - Microart Services and Berlin KraftWorks Partnership Connects Innovation to Production
Microart Services, an Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) provider with four decades of experience, has joined forces with Berlin KraftWorks Inc. (BKW), an engineering firm that helps firms transform ideas into finalized products, to bridge the gap between ideation and volume commercial production.
Both companies recognise the challenges faced by innovators when going from their eureka moment to the commercialisation of that product. Between them they are able to provide a creative genius with support through every aspect of design, engineering, DfM (design for manufacture), supply chain planning and much more. They allow the brand behind the innovation to focus on product ideation and development, knowing they are being guided through each stage of the commercialisation of their solution. They focus on the ultimate goal of delivering a robust solution to the consumer that is both reliable, scalable and economic.
BKW co-founder, Matt Weller said, “there was a meeting of minds with Microart Services, recognising that while there is support for new tech, there is a lack of resources and preparedness for physical manufacturing”. Matt added, “we both see a real need for hands-on assistance, teaching, and a systems approach that aligns engineering and supply chain from innovation through to production.”
Microart CEO, Mark Wood commented, “working with BKW and their customers allows us to get manufacturing practices and supply chain strategy baked in at the design stage”, adding, “the two teams bring immense experience in engineering, design, supply chain design and much more to deliver innovative products to their end user markets with the minimum pain, minimum risk and maximum value”.
As part of their partnership, Microart Services and BKW are providing advice to help innovators get ready for manufacturing and scale in the form of articles and blogs as well as a forthcoming webinar, scheduled for June 29th at 3pm EST. Matt Weller and Peter Heuss of BKW along with Mark Wood of Microart Services will be providing advice in this online and on-demand event hosted and moderated by Forbes and Entrepreneur journalist, Philip Stoten. Spaces are limited, so please register for this must-see event for innovators wishing to bridge the gap between idea and delivery.
Microart Services is an electronic manufacturing and design services company with four decades of experience, providing PCB layout, bare board manufacturing, PCB assembly, testing and box build for proto-type and low-to-mid volume productions. Microart has a reputation as a team that will bend over backwards for customers and possess the experience, skills and grit to get things done! They invest in the latest technology at their two state-of-the-art facilities to deliver the best product outcomes for their customers.
About Berlin KraftWorks Inc.:
Berlin KraftWorks Inc. makes it quicker and easier for companies to get their products to market. By aligning supply chain and engineering our hands-on solutions integrate into the entire process from design, through supply chain, to the end user.
For all media enquires, contact Scoop Communications.
Peter Heuss, P.Eng.
Co-Founder, Berlin KraftWorks Inc.
Prototype seems to be one of the most misused words in manufacturing. An early working example of a concept is often referred to as a prototype; however, a prototype is actually the final design on which the manufacturing is patterned, the last design before you start to manufacture in volume. From Webster’s dictionary “a first full-scale and usually functional form of a new type or design of a construction”.
This early conceptual design is a proof of concept and is a totally necessary step to show that an idea is valid, determine if there is sales interest, and to test engineering ideas. Too often though, we see companies come up with a conceptual design, build a proof of concept and believe that the design is done and that they are ready to take the idea to production.
Conceptual design is very much a creative activity and creativity cannot always be rushed. However, if the requirements of the product are well understood, knowing who the stakeholders are and what constraints must be met, conceptual design can avoid many issues. Creativity, however, does not negate good planning. Lean principles can still be used to plan and efficiently execute conceptual design.
A good proof of concept needs to test if the potential product merits development. It will likely help determine how the final product will look, what features are required, and how they all fit together. It’s a learning step to help specify the product. There could many iterations, and it will focus on defining and confirming the requirements, but not on how it will be built.
The final proof of concept should define the product requirements. The next step is to understand how to turn it into a product, something that can be built in volume repeatedly. Prototype design will take that conceptual design and figure out: how best to fabricate custom parts; what purchased components are suitable, available and at what cost; and how to assemble, package, ship and service the product. The necessities of cost and schedule will often dictate how much of the proof of concept design has to be modified. The final product will likely be a set of compromises from what was envisioned to what is practical.
Both steps are essential. Both steps require different skill sets and input from different stakeholders. They both take time to do properly. So, it’s natural to want to skip some or all of the process, especially in a young company where budgets are tight. Every idea needs to be fully defined and vetted to ensure it meets the business needs. It’s the prototype that defines the final configuration and how that idea can be built and sold - and how profitable it will be.