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  • Writer's pictureYosi Arazi

Development Process: From Idea to Product

Updated: 7 days ago

As an optical system development company with extensive experience in design and engineering of systems that turn into successful products, we’ve learned a lot through our experience. Today we can share this knowledge with other companies.

One of the major pitfalls for optical systems development, especially frequently observed in young start-ups, is the lack of systematic optical development process.

This post shows how to do this efficiently and touches the following points:

  • Optical system development starting point.

  • Overview on the entire process.

  • Setting sub-processes that cover specific development questions.

  • The output (and input) of each sub-process

  • Applicable Tips: understanding where you stand with your project.


So, let’s begin from the starting point…

Optical system development starting point

Often the input to the design process comes in a form of spec. For instance, you have a competitive product with certain specs, and you want to develop something that matches it or exceeds it. While many find this reasonable, we don’t think this approach will get you to a successful product.

A successful product starts with a user need, a problem, a use-case, something that is user centric. Then after a fundamental effort to understand this problem, you come up with an idea for the solution, or concept. We touch-based on this process in the first sub-process that is explained in more detail in a separate article.

The crucial points of the entry to the development project are to research and cover the following points:

  • Start with the user story. Aim to solve a problem that is critical or interesting for the users.

  • Make sure you have a market. One user is not enough….

  • Gather the right team: strong professional experts can do things more efficiently and quickly. They have the expertise; your bottleneck is almost always time.

  • Make sure you have enough funds/resources to cover the work for the next milestone.

  • Development process and methodology will keep you on track.

Overview on the entire process

The entire development process we formulated over time and experience is shown below.

Each block covers a milestone with a clear goal and a deliverable. The blocks are connected in a logical flow and in order to get from one milestone to the next you’ll have to follow the sub-process.

So, here you see 6 sub-process packages that eventually take you from the idea to a production scale. This flowchart gives an overview of the entire development process. Each of the sub-process parts can be treated as a separate process, can be assigned to different teams and even sub-contracted. We’ve been doing this quite successfully as an engineering service provider to different companies over the years. We will dive deeper into each one of them in a separate article.

This is a map that clearly defines the path, and each step is there for a good reason. Sometimes, some steps can be skipped, but every step is crucial to cover a certain risk. If you skip it the risk remains open and, as any risk, it can realize, taking you back to the previous step. So, in fact, this is a risk management and mitigation plan intertwined in the product development.

Each sub-processes covers specific development question

Now going deeper into the process, the division into sub-processes in a logical way serves the entire development process. Each sub-process takes you to the next milestone, it has an input at the start and a deliverable at the end. It also answers a certain question in the development sequence. Covering the question and the risk that comes with it takes the product to the next level of maturity and readiness, when the goal at the end is a product that is both highly demanded by the market, usable, manufacturable and scalable.

The question each sub-process covers each complete the steps towards this goal:

Process1: Is the concept feasible?

Process2: Is it technically possible to reach the design requirements goal for a nominal system?

Process3: Is the prototype fabrication, assembly and calibration feasible?

Process4: Is it possible to reach the design requirements & full user experience goal for a real as-built system?

Process5: Is the final product fabrication, assembly, calibration and testing feasible?

Process6: Can the product be manufactured in production quantities?

Since each sub-process can be treated as a closed stand-alone package, it could be done by a different team, sub-contractor.

Output (and input) of each sub-process

Now that we’re clear why each sub-process is needed and what risk it covers, we can also map the output of each sub-process that is vital for entering the next step. These output deliverables also serve as assets for the company: they are evidence of development progress, showing the company is on track and focused, they can be showcased to investors, in trade shows and conferences. These assets are also invaluable for user testing and to close a learning loop as part of iterative development process.

The deliverable of each milestone are also alpha and beta versions of the final product which is mature to enter the market, and they are:

Process1: POC (prove of concept)

Process2: Virtual prototype & physical prototype BOM (elements drawings)

Process3: Physical prototype verified and tested.

Process4: Full engineering package – design validation

Process5: Final product (first production) verified and tested.

Process6: Production scale-up process

When all these steps are covered, you have a validation for every aspect and question along the way and have a full confidence that the product is mature for the market. This points also marks entrance to the next phase: production scale-up and this is where the engineering resources can be utilized to work full-scale on the next product. It could be the next generation or alterations for different markets or any other path. The main thing is that you already have as asset which brings income to the company.

Applicable Tips: understanding where you stand with your project

You’re currently somewhere along the process line with your project. How do you locate yourself properly on this flowchart?

Here is an opportunity for us to step in, review your process and highlight exactly where you are. More importantly, we can help you assess which development stages you might have skipped, what implications of these short-cut decisions you may have experienced.

We can do better than that! We can give you our expert opinion: a plan to get on track and regain full control over your project schedule and resource management.

Contact us to schedule an intro meeting to learn more…


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