Published 27th August 2021 | Articles

8 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Product Design Company

Mechanical Design CAD

If you are about to choose a product design company to help you in getting a new product or technology to market, you’ll want to do your due diligence.

A key element in the relationship you’ll have is trust, which is not always easy or straightforward to establish.

Trust is not binary. It’s comprised of multiple factors ranging from hard facts about experience and expertise to softer – and often intangible – factors that can take time to build.

Given what you and your business are about to invest in taking a new product or technology to market, there is a lot to process in establishing that first step of finding a partner.  

Does your product design company “get it”?

Perhaps that’s the first, and most important question you need to answer.

Does your intended product design partner understand your brand, your values and your mission i.e. what you want to achieve?

Can they commit to getting under the skin of your business? Will they ever understand enough about you and your goals? Will they really do what it takes to get the details of your design spot on? Will they work on your project as if they are a part of your team?

All these “what ifs” and intangibles can be hard to pin down, and you’re going to need more than just a “good feeling” to make your choice.

What sort of experience can your product design company bring?

Talking the talk is one thing, but has the product design company “walked the walk”?

Have they delivered a range of design solutions across different sectors which demonstrate that they know how to take an idea from proposal, through design and prototype and on to the finished item?

Experienced product design companies showcase their experience through case studies which describe the work they’ve delivered for satisfied clients.

Case studies demonstrate that a product design company can deliver a project from concept through to completion, meeting the required brief in terms of appearance, functionality and affordable manufacture.   

How will they plan to “on-board” you as client?

Ask your prospective product design company how they go about on-boarding clients.

Find out if they operate a defined process for briefing initial requirements, and how they go about understanding your product design goals and researching the dynamics of your market.

Some firms (such as Cambridge Design Technology) provide a briefing questionnaire and will help you work through it in order to gain a shared understanding of the project.

How broad is the company’s product design skillset?

At the beginning of the product design process you will have assumptions about the skills needed to turn your ideas into reality – but assumptions need testing.

The product design company you choose must have a wide and varied skillset that can cope with any curveballs which the design process throws at them.

You should investigate all the skills your product design company possesses, from industrial and mechanical design to production engineering and electronics.

A product design company with a broad skillset will be able not only to design the product you need, but also to advise on prototyping, patenting, regulatory, manufacture and branding.     

Does the product design company have a particular specialist expertise?

A broad skillset is important for the reasons outlined above, but equally important can be a specific product or technology design specialism.

At Cambridge Design Technology, for example, our design capabilities extend to many sectors, product types and engineering areas, but we have specialist expertise and many years of experience in medical device design.

Medical technology design is a highly specialised field, not just in terms of the products and technologies, but also the regulatory landscape, meaning that a wealth of further value add can be brought to bear on a project.

Does your product design company use the latest tools?

Modern product design relies on a combination of creativity, expertise and technology.

It’s a sector where access to the best tools of the trade really counts in the delivery of the end product.

Examples of state-of-the-art technologies used by leading product design companies such as Cambridge Design Technology include PTC Creo and SolidWorks. The tools alone are important, but so are the advanced skills in working with them.

Check also to see how the firm prefers to communicate. Modern video conferencing platforms enable regular contact to be maintained without the need for hours of driving or flying, meaning ach stage of the design process can be open, efficient and iterative – leading to faster, leaner delivery.

Will your future partner go the extra mile for you?

The delivery of a tangible product that meets specification is clearly the main outcome of your relationship with a product design company.

No matter how clear the brief and specification, most projects can throw up unexpected issues, so it’s important to know that your product design company can work around them and find a solution.

Ask them how they would potentially go about resolving unexpected issues or problems and judge for yourself whether they would go the extra mile for you.

Does your designer offer a full range of services to get your product to market?

Because of the multifaceted nature of product and technology design, the overall product development process might require the input of multiple complimentary services and suppliers.

These could include prototyping, software and electronics design, patenting and intellectual property rights through to branding and market launch.  

Cambridge Design Technology partners with a network of strategically chosen experts committed to the same high standards as we are to deliver services such as these.

The result is a genuine one-stop, turnkey solution for everything needed to take your design from initial concept to market delivery in a seamless process.   

Next steps 

We like to think that we offer everything you need from a product design company, and much more besides, but you don’t have to take our word for it.

To find out more about what we do, how we do it and how we can work with you on your next product design project, please call Jon Plumb now on 01223 662300 or email info@cambridge-dt.com

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