Tag: Design Management

19 Jan 2018

7 Questions to Ask Before Starting a “Rush” Job

Are you in a rush? There are key advantages to paying for expedited service in the product development world, but over using the magical term “it’s a rush job” won’t do you any good if you can’t back it up. When you tell your developer or designer that you have a rush job for them, you should know a few things about the process, and how it will impact your project. Some developers love them, some don’t do them. Knowing what it means for your developer when you say your project is a rush job, will help make sure things go smoothly, and everything gets delivered on time and to spec. Here are some answers you need to rush your project successfully:
 
Is it really a rush job?
 
Make sure this is really a rush job for you. What are the driving factors that are making you want to set your project as a rush job? Talk with your developer, and make sure deadlines are understood. It might be that you thought it would be a rush job, and it isn’t. Don’t just call it a rush job if you are afraid your project won’t be taken seriously or done on time. Great developers always deliver on time or keep you apprised of any delays. In my firm, “rush” means drop everything and rush to get the project complete,  and we charge accordingly.
 
Do you have the funds and can pay immediately?
 
Most developers and designers that have any long term contracting experience require at least 75% up front to even begin the work. In a rush they are putting other clients on hold and pushing themselves and their team harder than normal to deliver what you need when you need it. If you are not ready to pay for expedited services up front you will be delaying your own project timeline.
 
Are you available for quick and frequent communication?
 
You are asking that your developer drop what they are doing and rush to take care of you. When you do that, the most frustrating thing you can do is take forever to respond or give edits, or be unresponsive at all. If you are not available to respond as quickly as possible to your developer, you are going to slow the project down, and show your developer that you do not actually view the project as a priority.
 
Do you have a scope of work?
 
This is absolutely necessary when working with rush jobs. Because the project is being rushed, you don’t want to waste your time or your developers. Making sure you have a list of changes, edits, and/or deliverables before you even mention the word rush to your developer is very important. During any job and (especially with rush jobs) if it isn’t in writing it’s not going to happen. Read our other blog here on creating an effective scope of work.
 
Do you have all materials ready to give to your developer?
 
Make sure you have more than everything you think your developer might need. You should do this with any project, but when it is a rush job time matters even more and your developer will be impressed and appreciative if you can produce everything they ask for quickly. Using a file sharing service is often a great idea as you can put everything they might need in one “folder” and share it with them.
 
Does your developer do rush jobs?
 
An important question that you might not necessarily think of to ask. Some developers I’ve worked with don’t do rush jobs at all, for which there are many reasons. Sometimes it’s a matter of schedule, or maybe they have a rush job already this week and are busy, even though they’d love to do it. It’s very important to make sure they really can squeeze your project in on your timeline. Especially with less experienced developers, their eyes can be larger than their stomach so to speak.
 
Are you committed to your project?
With any rush job, you are setting a high level of expectation and commitment from your developer. You should match them. If you loose focus, start to change the project, or give other signs that you aren’t committed, those are red flags to your developer that it isn’t really a rush job, and they might not take it as seriously as you want them to.
 
 
Getting your design services expedited will no doubt help you capture revenue opportunities. In order for your rush to be a success make sure you are as committed and prepared as your developer/ design team.

01 Dec 2017

3 Things You Should Know About Designers & Engineers

When looking for help developing a new product, your first thought might have been to find an engineer or engineering firm, because everyone knows that engineers design and make things. Then there are those of you who thought you needed a designer and nothing else! I’ve witnessed arguments between designers and engineers, each claiming the supreme ability to create a product without the other. There are generalized statements that work most of the time about each.

  • Generally, engineers are more data and manufacturing focused. Looking pretty, aesthetics, usability, and user focus is not their area of expertise. Not to say there aren’t engineers who can, but their focus is not design, it is engineering.
  • Generally, industrial designers are focused on user experience, style, and brand. Costing, design for manufacturability, and working mechanics are not their specialty. There are industrial designers out there who can really see things as a manufacturer and understand all those processes, but most of the industrial designers you see with the cool portfolios are focused on sketches and renders that are considered concept work.

With that in mind, how do you choose, or really, should you have to? The answer is no. In the world between engineering and design are Product Developers. There is no degree for this, it comes only with years of experience on both sides of the coin bringing products from a concept to a manufacturable product. When you want to turn an idea into a product, you should really be looking for a Product Developer.

  • Product Developers can talk about manufacturing processes and stress loads, as well as talk about how a product elicits an emotion from a user. Their experience is usually broad, and they truly understand the entire process, concept to production, of a product, whether that product is a baby toy or an industrial laser.

You may find yourself asking the question, when do I need an engineer to do that scary math? Well, when you work with a good Product Developer, they can handle pretty much anything that doesn’t need analysis or an engineering stamp, which saves you the extra cost of having a certified engineer work on the project. If you get to a point where an engineer is needed, or a manufacturer should be brought in, a good Product Developer will tell you and help bring on the right people to get your product into production.

22 Nov 2017

3 Must Haves When Creating a Project Timeline

Timelines. We all need them, but even the best of us don’t get them right every time. How do we create realistic timelines that don’t sound outrageous? Well, it all depends on who is looking at them. Experienced designers can usually look at a project and have a pretty good idea on how long a project might take to design with barely any thought and be right. For a non-designer to make that same estimate is nearly impossible, I’ve trained sales people on how to sell Industrial Design, and it took a lot of training to get someone unfamiliar with this process to be able to accurately quote a timeframe for a project.
There is no magic formula that lets anyone estimate a project as well as a seasoned designer, I’ve looked. And almost any schedule is possible, if you have the funds to pay for it. There are a few things that you should always make sure are known before discussing a timeline. If a designer gives you a timeline and is missing one of these elements, then their estimate will probably be off.

  • Fully Defined Scope of Work. We’ve gone over this previously here, but it really is very important that before you get a timeline from a designer, or before you begin to create your own, you know exactly everything that is going to go into and come out of the project.
  • Response Time from You, the Client. Any good designer can estimate how long they will take to respond, but did they specify how quickly they expect a response from you? When they wrote the timeline, they might have assumed you would be responding within two days, but maybe you have such a busy schedule that it will take at least a week or more before you can review a design that was sent to you. This expectation is very important, and can derail a timeline quickly.
  • Project Hours. This is how long the designer says they are going to take to make the project happen. This gives you the number of hours that will be worked, but not over what duration. This number is also something that unless you have design experience that matches the designer you are hiring, is not a point that is very arguable.

If you and your designer have these three items, then a viable timeline can be created by the designer. It’s always good to give them your gut feeling on this, we prefer our clients give us an idea of what they think it should take. Remember, everything is negotiable as long as you only choose two of the iron triangle to be fixed. Time, Quality, and Cost make up the iron triangle. You can have a fast and high-quality project, but the cost will not be controllable. So, choose wisely which two you care about the most.
Our experience with delays is that a lot of time is lost in getting responses from clients on a revision. While a project may have started out with a one week response time for each revision, when that gets pushed to one and a half weeks, and there are a total of 10 revision points through different phases of a project, that’s an extra 5 weeks on a project that should have only taken say 15 weeks to complete, which makes for a 30% increase in your timeline. No one likes that kind of increase.

11 Nov 2017

The 4 Things Your Scope of Work Should Have

Every project that involves more than one person should have a scope of work, or SOW. Even very small projects, say under $500, benefit from having one. A good scope of work is a tool that will provide the designer, client, and anyone else involved with a clear vision of what is and should be done and how. A SOW can be simple or complex, depending on who writes it and the project. Here are 4 key parts that should be in every SOW, and 4 things to watch out for.
Brief – This is simply a short summery describing what the project is. It should be detailed but concise. A good Brief will give anyone a clear picture of what the project is about.
Deliverables – This is what the designer will hand you when the project is complete. Some examples would be concept sketches, manufacturing documentation, 3D models, or renders. For the job to be complete, everything listed here must be provided.
Requirements – Technical requirements, specifications, product features, manufacturing considerations, costing, and other related details all are included here. Only quantifiable things should be here. “Looking nice” isn’t a requirement you can quantify while “Water proof” is. This is also where specific tasks can be outlined, depending on the project.
Timeline – The timeline is always important to have as it makes it clear what the expectations are exactly. You could say, I’d like this soon, but that means different things to different people, maybe soon is a day, maybe it’s 6 months. This is a subject for another post, but the basics are you need a timeline, period. It can be estimated or exact, we know life happens but keep things realistic. Also, be weary of timelines that come from designers that seem too good to be true, this either means they are super heroes, they don’t understand the project fully, or don’t have experience in your industry.
These areas cover what is commonly considered a SOW. In addition to this, some include admin/management information, such as payment, change request process, legal information, points of contact, etc. At our firm, we put everything together into a single document that covers legal, finance, and SOW. There are many ways to do this, and each firm/designer has their own way of writing up the entire starting packet of documents.
While designers love when a client comes to them with a clear SOW, great designers can also work with clients to develop a clear SOW through a process we call a discovery phase. We realize many people developing new products may need help, and a good designer will be able to gather this information and write a comprehensive SOW for you.

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