Tag: product development

What is a product roadmap (and do you need one)?

If you’re developing a product, you’ve probably heard the term ‘product roadmap’ floating around.

But what does it mean, and do you need one?

What is a product roadmap?

Simply put, a product roadmap is a vision of your company’s evolving products. It is a strategic document that outlines plans and allows visibility on which direction the company is heading. The roadmap is usually rolling or agile over a specific time period, which when developing physical products is usually 3 – 5 years. It tells you which products will be delivered, and by when.

Essentially it’s the road your company will be travelling on and what products will be launched along the way. Like an actual road, there may be some bends and twists along the way, and even a few diversions!

Photo credit: Unsplash

Who is responsible for the product roadmap?

The product manager is ultimately responsible for creating and owning the product roadmap, however, there will normally be other stakeholders around the business. The following departments will usually have at least one nominated stakeholder:

  • Executive board
  • Product team
  • Design and Engineering
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service

Depending on your organisation, you may also have some external stakeholders.

product roadmap

It’s vital that the product manager updates stakeholders on a regular basis. They’ll need to arrange meetings to communicate updates and collate feedback, but ultimately it’s the product manager who owns the roadmap and is responsible for keeping things moving. If there are delays that will impact the agreed strategic vision then these need to be communicated to stakeholders. The roadmap will help to manage and align the stakeholders’ expectations.

Why do you need a product roadmap?

As outlined above, the roadmap is the organisation’s strategic vision for the future. It’s an essential document for the business. Without it, you won’t have clarity of which products are being launched.

It communicates the product vision clearly and aligns product goals with overall business goals. The ultimate objective being to launch commercially successful products with a healthy return on investment.

The roadmap translates “technical” jargon into concise language that all stakeholders can understand.

Product roadmap meeting
Photo credit: Unsplash

It allows priorities to be communicated easily, which is particularly useful when difficult decisions need to be made (such as which features can we afford to include in the development, and which need to be scrapped).

The roadmap facilitates different departments to work together, resulting in a smoother development process with the outcome being a better product for your target audience.

Simon Cornelius, MD of Cornelius Creative says:

“A long-term strategic product roadmap gives businesses a great foundation for future product launches and exposes the maximum potential from existing product ranges.

A well thought out roadmap identifies potential gaps in a product portfolio as well as gaps in the marketplace. It allows businesses to control their product lifecycles, ensuring that outdated or poor performing products are superseded by new product developments before it is too late. This ensures a continuous revenue stream, as well as helping to plan new product launches, by giving a firm indication of deadlines to complete the development and hit significant selling milestones, be it a trade show, or seasonal time of the year to maximise the product’s initial uptake.”

What should be included in a product roadmap?

The content of your roadmap depends on your organisation, and your audience. The size and structure of your company will determine the complexity of the roadmap, but there are certain aspects that should be included:

  • The overall vision for the product(s)
  • Requirements (what you need to get where you want to be)
  • Project timeline, complete with timed goals
  • Metrics, how things will be measured

Best practice tips for a killer product roadmap

  • Make sure the company’s vision is clear: it will be the overall guide for the roadmap.
  • Don’t overload the detail: keep it top level with your audience in mind.
  • Make it accessible to all stakeholders: and keep communication regular.
  • Review and update regularly: make changes when necessary – it should be flexible.

Next steps:

Are you looking to create your next product roadmap? Our team of experienced product managers can help.

Contact us today and we’ll take you on the first step to planning commercially successful products.


Why Is Sustainability Influencing Modern Product Design?

What are consumers looking for when they buy a product? Quality, convenience and cost are three major factors that they consider.

Over the past few years, however, another consideration has been added to the list – today’s consumers want to purchase products that are environmentally responsible. With this in mind, companies are now increasingly reinventing how they design their services and products, putting sustainability at the forefront of everything they do.

A Changing Mindset for Sustainability

Over the last decade, conversations have been taking place about climate change and its impact on the planet at the highest level.

The media is full of stories about the effects of global warming, so consumers are becoming highly aware of why they need to adopt a more sustainable approach to living. So much so, in fact, that customers will pay more for a product that is sustainably produced, and using eco-friendly products has been revealed in studies to make consumers happier when using the product.

bamboo toothbrushes for sustainability
Bamboo toothbrushes – no longer a niche product. Photo credit: Unsplash 

With an increased demand for sustainable products companies are, understandably, responding by transforming their processes to be more environmentally conscious. Not only does it appeal to their target market, it also helps to meet their own sustainability goals (and any targets set by government), as well as benefitting the planet. It’s win-win-win.

Single-use plastics have become a hot topic once again throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with the exponential increase in demand for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), particularly disposable masks and gloves. It seems our awareness around problematic ocean plastics has perhaps been neglected, overtaken by a necessity to protect ourselves from Coronavirus. And while plenty of brands have jumped on the PPE-wagon with branded merchandise available everywhere, the impact of single use PPE products over the course of the pandemic can’t be denied.

Single use PPE - Covid19
Photo credit: Unsplash

How Can Companies Make Their Products More Sustainable?

When it comes to product development, assessing the lifecycle of products is key. From the raw materials used in production, through to its end-of-life scenario, assessing possible alternatives to minimise waste and energy usage at every stage has never been more important.

Many companies are now asking product design companies to develop ways of making products componentised so that, in the instance they can’t be refurbished or recycled at end of life, they can be deconstructed to make alternative products from the components.

This is an important step for those of us working in product development to take. In the past when working for manufacturers we’ve witnessed huge amounts of product wastage on far too many occasions – perfectly good products that could’ve been refurbished, but instead were consigned to landfill.

It’s heart-breaking and completely unnecessary, and it’s our responsibility as innovators to implement a change.

Lego recently announced they have produced their first brick prototypes using 100% recycled plastic. Important? Absolutely, but perhaps far too late for a global company like Lego to have only taken this step in 2021. What has taken them so long?

Lego bricks plastic
Photo credit: Unsplash

Why Is Sustainability So Important When Designing New Products?

As an industrial design company, our focus on product development is always a sustainable one. A primary goal of our business is to limit the negative impact that we have on our planet, and to this end, we strive to ensure each and every product that we develop is developed sustainably.

Sustainable boxed water
Reducing plastics in bottled water. Photo Credit: Unsplash

We recently designed a range of eco-friendly packaging for a new wellness tea brand, PUR-E-TEA. The company’s values are centred around the planet and wellbeing, so one of the main requirements from the client was for the packaging to be as sustainable as possible. For us, looking for sustainable options is a prerequisite anyway, but it’s satisfying to work with clients that have the same values as us. We designed a slimline box to reduce the amount of material needed (whilst also saving on cost), and used chemical-free ink for the artwork. We limited the amount of plastics used within the packaging, and any that were necessary were 100% biodegradable.

Sustainability in product packaging
PUR-E-TEA slimline eco-friendly packaging

Not only do we seek out eco-conscious materials and adopt sustainable manufacturing methods for use in the products we work on, but we have also introduced environmentally sound changes to our business practices, including going paper free as much as possible. All of our product sketches are now made on graphics tablets instead of paper. We use the XP-Pen Artist 13.3 pro for all sketches, which we’ve found works perfectly for our needs, and during video calls while screen sharing we are able to sketch ideas and concepts to allow clients to visualise their product being designed live while we speak! Another way we try to be sustainably conscious is to seek out local suppliers whenever possible to reduce the distance products need to travel. We also encourage video calls with clients, and if face-to-face meetings are necessary, then we look to use public transport wherever possible. Simon also rides his bike to the office most days!

We are working hard to minimise our carbon footprint in line with the latest best practice within the product development industry, and to do our bit to protect our planet for future generations.

The benefits of a 3D printed prototype

Taking your design from an idea on paper to a tangible prototype of the product is a vital part of product development.

There are many different ways to produce a prototype, but in recent years 3D printing has been widely accepted as the most cost-effective and efficient way. Nowadays, a wide range of industries choose this technology over injection moulding or subtractive manufacturing. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of choosing 3D printing to produce your prototype:

Rapid prototyping

Before 3D printing techniques became mainstream, producing a prototype was a time-consuming process. Every modification to the design potentially added weeks to the lead time.

3D printing has significantly reduced the time it takes to produce a prototype and has allowed designers to quickly test the viability of their idea and explore more creative options that can be customised with ease.

Reduced prototype costs

Traditional methods of prototyping are costly and require expensive machinery to manufacture a product. Add in the cost of the labour to run the machine and a prototype or smaller run of goods can soon become cost prohibitive.

The 3D printing process is far simpler, takes up less space, and does not require a specialised machine operator, making it a more affordable option for small businesses.

There is also less waste, as the product is printed from the bottom up, rather than machined and shaped from a solid block—making material costs much more competitive.

Gain a competitive advantage

Having a tangible product to show your customer is far preferable to showing them your design on a screen. It aids the early identification of any design issues which can be easily incorporated into the CAD file and reprinted quickly, reducing the timescales of the product development process.

Reducing the cycle time means businesses can be more agile and gain a competitive advantage to deliver prototypes and design changes efficiently and professionally.

The prototype can also be shown to investors and board members, which again is advantageous when compared to showing them a design on a presentation. A prototype brings the product to life, it is more likely to grab their attention, overcome any concerns they have, and ultimately gain sign off for funding.

3D printing is a quick and cost effective way to build a prototype

Ready to push ‘print’?

As part of our product development service, we create prototypes for our clients, including 3D printed parts and products, which we can produce quickly and efficiently in-house. We also have a network of suppliers for producing more complex prototypes.

If you are ready to push ‘print’ on your prototype, contact our team on 01474 711189 or send us an email.

Do I need to prototype my product?

One of the services we offer our clients is creating rapid prototypes of their products using our 3D printer.

We were asked by a client recently: “Why do I need to get a prototype made of my product? Can’t I go straight into production?”

The prototyping stage is one of the most important parts of the product design process. Prototyping your product will actually save time and money overall, so we would always recommend that getting a prototype made.

So, first things first: what is a prototype?

A prototype is essentially a physical 3D version of your product or part. It is a replica of how your finished product will look and feel, and possibly even perform (if it’s a working prototype rather than just aesthetic).

The prototype could be a DIY version, made out of cardboard or other materials readily available, or you could employ a prototyping company like us to professionally make it for you.

Depending on the product being developed and the materials it’s made of, the process to create a prototype can vary. We will typically use a 3D printer which uses different types of plastics (with different properties). It is possible to get prototypes made in other materials such as wood, metal and fabric.

Why do I need to prototype?

Our MD Simon recently posted a video about the importance of prototyping in the product development process:

As Simon described in the video there are 3 main reasons for prototyping – all of which will save you time and money on your overall project. There will be a cost involved in getting the prototype professionally made, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.

1. It allows you to check the design and highlight any problems early on

Working with 3D CAD and photorealistic renders give us an excellent impression of what a product will look and perform like, but nothing really compares to holding the product in your hands and being able to examine it. When your product is ready for manufacture there may be expensive tooling costs, depending on the design. If you were to get the tools made without checking the design first, it could be a very costly mistake to make. Making a prototype allows you to make iterative changes to the design – a much more time and cost-effective method.

2. You can make sure the product performs correctly

Secondly, having a prototype allows you to test the functionality – making sure that any parts fit together correctly, that it is durable and won’t break. It is far cheaper to conduct these tests with a prototype than with final production parts.

3. It provides opportunity for feedback from end users

Finally, having a physical prototype means you can get feedback from real life customers. The feedback could be positive or negative – both are valuable and can provide some great insights, which you may even use to refine your product design. Again, it’s much more cost effective to make these changes now rather than later in the production process when you’ve invested into tooling.

You can also show the prototype to investors and board members – you’ll be taken more seriously when presenting a prototype rather than just a concept or an idea.

How do I make a prototype?

Prototyping is an essential stage of product development; it’s why we invested into a rapid prototyping machine (3D printer). We bought our Prusa Research printer at the start of 2020 and it’s been used on almost every one of our projects since.

If you are creative, you can choose to make a DIY prototype, which will give you a rough idea of what your product will look and feel like. It’s a relatively low-cost option and will give you an indication whether the product will be manufacturable. But in order to test it properly and to make sure the product will be fit for purpose, you will need to have the prototype professionally made.

If you have any questions about product prototyping or 3D printing, please get in touch with us, we’d be happy to help.

What our clients say.

  • "They were able to deliver an outstanding solution to a challenging brief"

    "I gave the team at Cornelius Creative a challenging brief, and they were able to deliver an outstanding solution, but more importantly did so a highly professional and efficient manner. I would certainly recommend them for any product design or marketing briefs you have. It was a pleasure working with them."

    Anand G, Hansgrohe
  • "Their interest, passion and care makes them feel part of your team"

    "Simon and the team at Cornelius Creative are fantastic. Their interest, passion and care makes them feel part of your team. They have a wealth of experience which was clear in our project and critical to the successful design. Simon was critical in the brain storming all aspects of design and functionality. Cornelius Creative always make time for you and are extremely approachable and helpful to talk through any aspect of the design. Cornelius Creative have a passion for delivering high quality designs, which is clear in our project. SailAI would highly recommend Cornelius Creative for any creative design projects, and hopefully we will be working together again in the future."

    Ben P, SailAI
  • "I liked their collaborative approach and commitment to getting the project done on time"

    "I worked with Cornelius Creative on a product launch for which they produced CGIs and product renders. It was a smooth process, I liked their collaborative approach and commitment to getting the project done on time and on brief. Very happy with the results and I'll surely work with them again!"

    Ernest O, Furnitubes Ltd
  • “They were able to look at my business as a whole and refresh my brand"

    I approached Cornelius Creative to help with my business branding, which had got a bit stale. They were able to look at my business as a whole and refresh my brand to make it more appealing to my customers. They made huge improvements to my logo and visuals as well as my messaging to make it more appealing. My brand is more recognisable now and I couldn't be happier with the result. I'd definitely work with Cornelius Creative again.
    Robert H, MKBS
  • “What an effortless transaction… Cornelius Creative exceeded all my expectations”

    What an effortless transaction. I had been putting off getting my patent drawing done as thought it was going to be a long and arduous job but Cornelius Creative exceeded all my expectations. A straightforward process, knew exactly what I needed and quick turnaround with less then 48 hours! Communication was 2nd to none.... I will 100% be contacting Cornelius Creative again for future projects. Thank you!
    Charlene D, Untainted
  • “We can’t wait to work with them again!”

    Glowpear has had the pleasure of dealing with Cornelius Creative on design, marketing and strategy. They are highly recommended, with the drive to succeed at a high level, amazing results, and a personal touch when dealing with us. We can't wait to work with them again!
    Simon L, Glowpear
  • “They exceeded all expectations. Their creativity and attention to detail is second to none”

    Cornelius Creative made a great impression from the onset. They were tasked to design a concept which was very different from the status quo and they exceeded all expectations. Their creativity and attention to detail is second to none.
    Steve C, Uthos

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