Simplexity’s product development process is a phase-gate process based on decades of experience and industry best practices. Design is an iterative process, taking into account the unknowns that are best resolved through exploration, building prototypes, analysis, and testing as early as possible.

The phases of product development

Our approach is to figure out what the highest risk aspect of a product may be and devise creative ways of assessing those risks, usually through different levels of prototyping.

Phase 0: Exploration

Phase 0 is an optional phase for those projects where the market requirements and product idea have not yet been fully developed. It can consist of research, concept work, exploring initial architecture, performing feasibility studies, and/or simple testing and prototyping.

  • Typical deliverables:
  • Exploration report
  • Gate definition:
  • Client approval on feasibility of idea

Phase 1: Requirements and Planning

The market and user requirements are converted into engineering requirements for the product. The project is planned based on the schedule, budget, risk, and technical requirements. This process is best done in a collaborative team effort with the client who usually has the most intimate knowledge of the market need and user requirements.

  • Typical deliverables:
  • Product requirements document
  • Project development plan (including plans for software/firmware, usability, and hardware)
  • Risk analysis
  • ID/UI concepts
  • Gate definition:
  • Product requirements document complete
  • Client approval of project development plan

Phase 2A: Detailed Design | Architecture and Technology Feasibility

The Simplexity team defines various options for the product architecture in order to have the greatest chance of success while best mitigating the risks. This can include options for hardware components, mechanical parts, preliminary CAD, software and firmware block, sequence, state diagrams, and more.

These are presented with a description of the pros, cons, and key tradeoffs for each scenario. The highest risk areas of the product design can also be addressed through building proof-of-concept prototypes or characterization tools, which test the high-risk subsystems.

  • Typical deliverables:
  • System architecture description (including software/firmware and hardware)
  • User studies
  • Software requirements
  • Preliminary mechanical architecture
  • Software risk analysis
  • Breadboards or proof-of-concept prototypes
  • ID concept models
  • Gate definition:
  • Client approval on hardware and software architecture reviews

Phase 2B and 2C: Detailed Design | Design, Build, and Test

Detailed design is the largest effort in the product development process, where the specific implementation for all disciplines occurs (mechanical, industrial design, electrical, firmware, control system, software, manufacturing, and quality). The detailed design phase usually has multiple, iterative sub-phases as the design progresses and more representative prototypes are built and tested.

We typically engage with production component suppliers and contract manufacturing groups early in this phase to inform the design. If the product has stringent testing or certification requirements, pre-screens are often performed in this phase prior to formal safety agency testing. The number of detailed design sub-phases depends on the complexity and performance requirements of the product.

  • Typical deliverables:
  • User studies
  • Software and hardware design descriptions
  • Design-build-test iterations
  • Prototypes
  • Software source code
  • Schematics
  • 3D CAD files
  • 2D drawings
  • Test protocols and reports
  • Design failure mode and effect analysis
  • Bill of materials
  • Test plans
  • Gate definition:
  • Engineering confidence test reviews

Phase 3: Design Verification and Transfer

This phase occurs once the detailed design is complete, and prototypes are built with manufacturing-representative quality and detail. More extensive, formal testing is performed, such as life, reliability, safety, environmental, drop, and vibration.

The design team works closely with the manufacturing team to enable a smooth transfer, often with Simplexity engineers traveling to the contract manufacturer sites to ensure product quality. The design is transferred to the client based upon client needs, most often after all tests are complete and the design is verified.

  • Typical deliverables:
  • Formal verification test reports
  • Design transfer package
  • Gate definition:
  • Design verification complete

7 Steps To Simplification©

Simplexity’s 7 Steps to Simplification© is used throughout the phases of product development to lead to simpler designs. Since design is an iterative process, the steps are not performed in a purely linear fashion, as many of the steps, such as prototyping and testing, are done throughout the development. However, the most important step is the first one, to ask the right questions to truly understand the needs before jumping into the design. By using these steps to simplification, Simplexity has been able to achieve significant results for our clients, such as part count reduction, lower bill of materials costs, and improved reliability while still meeting the specifications.