Can you imagine how many electronic products are developed every year? Behind every successful electronic design there are just as many, possibly even life-changing, innovations that don’t ever go far. The father of the electric light bulb, Thomas Edison, had more than 1,000 patented inventions that didn’t make it to fruition as a useful device. Granted, just because something is a unique idea, doesn’t mean its destiny is development, but the there is a secret regarding the success of those ideas that do become successful. The causes for both the nonstarters and the succeeders are wide-ranging but can often be traced to whether or not the original requirements were effectively defined. The originator may have a pretty good concept of what that electronic, supersonic, space-age; whatsamagigit is supposed to do, but the hows and heretofores of what needs to happen in order to make it do that is entirely dependent upon proper development of the requirements. Examining every aspect of the electronic product and developing structured definition is important to be done even before a plan for development is formulated. The requirements stage is absolutely crucial to product success.

Focusing on requirements at the front end of the electronic product development process provides a foundation and winnows out potential flaws. By improving the likelihood of success the cost of an electronic product development is ultimately kept lower and it can be completed sooner. The requirements level of electronic product development has categorically been shown to cause the biggest cause of design defects. This stage relates the customer’s product vision to the technology being applied by the engineering firm, and ensures that an appropriate development plan is carried out. Requirement inadequacies will be detected later into the project and result in delays and do-overs, so they become more and more expensive as the product development process advances. As the Changes to requirements of the expected product performance, interfaces and agency testing (UL, CE, FCC, CSA etc.) become exponentially, increasingly complex and expensive. The costs rise quickly.

Many of our clients come from engineering and have no trouble understanding engineer-speak but others must have requirements broken down into Basic English. In order to develop products according to what the customer tells us they want, we have to be able to translate and help define the information correlating it to specifications relating to the standards for the product’s industry.
Below are some of the questions we begin with to define significant facets for development of the specifications necessary for well planned requirements-driven electronic products:

  1. What are the product’s unique look, size, function, and presentation? This will often change during the design process. What is your corporate ID (identity) for the product?
  2. What agency approvals will be required? FCC, UL, CE, and specific subdivisions such as medical 60601-2?
  3. What performance characteristics will it have? i.e.: how long does it have to last on a single battery charge? How long do you expect the product to function before it should be replaced?
  4. What are the functional requirements? i.e.: must it store data? What kind and for how long?
  5. What are the power requirements?
  6. What are some of the constraints of the product? Such as production costs
  7. Can the product be built using commercial-off-the-shelf or by leveraging other available parts? Or, will it require custom development all of the way around.
  8. Does it have unusual requirements with regard to the environment in which it will be used or stored?
  9. What kind of life span does it require?
  10. Who is the end user of the product and how are they expected to interface with it?
  11. How much will you charge for the product and how many do you expect to sell? What cost to manufacture and at what volume?
  12. How will it be packaged?
  13. Is the production time-sensitive?
  14. Are there product safety issues?
  15. What kind of user or other system interface is required?
  16. What will the volumes be and how and where will it be manufactured? How should it be set up to keep manufacturing costs as low as possible?
  17. How and where will it be distributed?

Whether it’s a “green”, low-cost, low-power product, faster or larger instruments, medical, aerospace (ground or flight) or a high-speed, complex embedded processor systems Advantage adopts an experienced methodical, top down approach to the development of electronic products, relying on the core belief that formal and complete identification of what is required is the most crucial factor of electronic product development.

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