Making Time for New Product Development in the New Year

Making Time for New Product Development in the New Year

The new year brings a new schedule — but with everything coming at your development team in 2019, how will your team handle their regular work on top of all the new product development you hope to accomplish? Here are a few ideas on keeping a schedule and making time for new development.

Set Clear, Realistic Priorities for the Year

The first, and best, way to make sure new development actually happens is to make it a priority. One reason new development often gets pushed to the wayside is that it’s considered a “secondary” project that your team can work on when they get their other projects done. When they’re consistently working on other projects, new product development gets pushed to the wayside.

While you certainly can’t throw out all of your team’s existing projects, you can set clear, realistic priorities for the new year, and include new product development as one of those top priorities. By making new development a key priority, you allow your team to put it ahead of some of their other projects, which can help move it along at a reasonable rate.

Create a Schedule, and Be Specific

If new product development is a key priority for your company this year, it’s best to get ahead of it by setting a specific, detailed schedule as soon as you can. Determine what needs to happen and set regular meetings so your team knows when they need to provide updates, and can be held accountable for the progress they make.

The more specific your schedule, the better. This gives your team an opportunity to visualize how you see this new project development coming together, and while you can always adjust the schedule later, having a clear outline for an order of events gives team members a place to start.

Assign Key Tasks to The Right Development Team

Another key hold up for new project development can be how you assign tasks to your development teams. If new project development is assigned to more than one team, it is important to divide the work intuitively between teams that have both the time and the skill set to complete specific aspects of the new product. Depending on how you envision your project, assign key tasks to different teams so it doesn’t feel like the bulk of the work is placed on one team.

Spend Time With Your Team

After you get new product development going, you have to make an effort to keep it moving. Spend dedicated one-on-one time with your team, in person, to facilitate continual progression. While it’s easy to send out an email and wait for a response, it’s more effective, and you’ll often find better answers if you work with, and speak to your team directly.

Regular meetings and an open, honest dialogue can keep new product development moving along quickly. Face-to-face meetings make it easier for your team to tell you what’s not working, and what new direction might be better for your project. Direct collaboration can do a lot to keep your new development project on track.

Hire A Design and Engineering Project Partner To Help Innovate New Products

If your team is struggling to carve out time to develop a new product, they won’t have the time necessary to spend on true ideation. They may be able to hammer out something new, but what are the chances it’ll meet top standards for innovation, creativity, and functionality?

A better, more productive solution may be to hire a design and engineering studio who can dedicate an entire team’s time and resources to innovating your new product.

By partnering with another team, you’ll take pressure off of your own, allowing them to focus specifically on the products you need to keep current business moving swiftly, without losing the new product development you’ve been pushing for in the new year.

A qualified, experienced development partner can help your company optimize new product development in the following ways:

  • Increase productivity
  • Introduce new, innovative ideas
  • Minimize overload on existing employees
  • Offer immediate, specialized expertise.

Oftentimes, a fresh, new perspective and a dedicated team of experts who can make your vision come to life without taking away from your current production efforts are exactly what your team needs.

The beginning of the year is a busy time for everyone. If you’re looking for a solid and proven partner for your 2019 new product development needs, Fredricks Design can help. Whether you need help on just one product or could use a specialized team of innovators for a number of projects, we are dedicated to developing creative product solutions for clients in a variety of industries, and we’d love to help you. Let us know how we can help you facilitate new product development in the new year.

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Keeping Themed Attraction Development Going Through the Holidays

Keeping Themed Attraction Development Going Through the Holidays

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, but the hustle and bustle of the season tends to have increased impact on the themed attraction industry, when most final deadlines don’t arrive until spring and summer. When people leave for holiday vacation, and major deadlines seem far away, it can be difficult to keep your themed attraction production on schedule.

One of the best ways to minimize the holiday struggle is to hire an experienced design and engineering firm to take on some of the work your team can’t quite finish. If you’re not sure that’s the best move for your company quite yet through, here are a few tips to help your team maintain focus on a big project over the holidays:

Finish or Suspend Big Projects in Advance

The best way to avoid the holiday lag is to plan for it. Move deadlines up before the holidays set in, or find a reasonable stopping point and press pause until everyone comes back from their holiday time-off. While this doesn’t necessarily boost your production, it does minimize the discouragement everyone feels when they come back in the New Year to deadlines already passed.

Identify Key Priorities

If, like many themed attraction developers, you don’t have the luxury of suspending big projects, make it easier for teams to focus on key priorities. Make expectations very clear, and move the focus from those final deadlines in the spring and summer to more tangible midpoint deadlines that are closer. Encourage everyone involved to make a list of what they need to accomplish before they leave, and work with them to ensure they complete as much as possible.

Foster Collaboration

During the holidays, most of your themed attraction production teams are working in skeleton crews. Instead of letting everyone struggle along shorthanded, encourage inter-team collaboration. This can incite innovation, and it takes some of the pressure off of employees who aren’t able to take much holiday vacation.

Offer Flex Time

A little flex time can go a long way, especially during the holiday season. If you offer a few hours off for employees to get some of their holiday shopping done, you’ll find people are more focused on the hours that they are in the office. Consider offering everyone a choice afternoon off for more focus at work.

How Hiring a Creative Product Solutions Firm Can Help

There are a lot of ways to encourage more productivity from your existing teams, but when most of your themed attraction production groups are already working short handed, it can be asking a lot just to get through the normal day-to-day. That doesn’t leave much room for additional innovation or new ideas through the holiday season, which can hurt your attractions in the long run.

If you know your team just won’t be able to get everything done over the holidays, consider hiring a creative design and engineering firm for additional support on a project or two. Fresh, rested eyes and a new perspective can spark innovation, and help keep themed attraction production going. Here are a few other benefits of hiring an industrial design firm to start or finish a new project over the holidays:

Increased Productivity

If you’re running a little short handed through the holiday season, the right design and engineering firm can help give your productivity a boost. It takes some of the burden off of your teams’ shoulders, and affords them the time they need to complete the rest of their tasks efficiently.

Hiring an industrial design firm also helps speed your production along a bit. A firm you hire to develop a product has the team they need to meet your deadline on hand. Their team will be dedicated to your product, and only that project, whereas your own team probably has quite a few tasks on their plate.

Minimize Overload

When a number of employees leave for the holidays, it leaves everyone who remains with an inordinate amount of work, which can cause a lot of stress that hinders productivity. By hiring a qualified outside firm to handle your project, you lessen the overload on your pared down teams, ensuring they can come into work every day refreshed and ready to get their work done.

Boost Innovation

When we are all struggling to meet deadlines, especially over the holidays, it can be difficult to allow adequate space for innovation. When employees focus on nothing but “getting it done” so they can move onto the next task, they’re unlikely to infuse the same innovation and creativity they might have if they were working with more time and less pressure.

The added benefit of a creative product solution firm is that they’re approaching your product with fresh eyes and a new perspective, which means they’ll bring new concepts and ideas to the table. This boosts innovation, and helps put your themed attraction project ahead of the competition.

Specialized Expertise

With key people out over the holidays, you don’t always have the experienced team members on hand that you usually do. When you choose to hand a project off to an industrial design firm, you’re essentially hiring on specialized expertise with a laser focus on your project. There’s no worry of training or experience level, because you’re hiring a team full of experts who know exactly what they need to do to create the product that will take your themed attraction to the next level.

In the end, hiring an industrial design and engineering studio gives you a highly qualified support team with the experience and innovation you need to keep themed attraction development going through the holidays.

If you’re looking for a bit of extra help this holiday season, Fredricks Design can help. From new product development to project management, we’ve got the experience, creative talent and the engineering know-how you need to continue project development, even through the holidays. Let us know what we can innovate for you.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a fantastic 2019!

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New Product Development Contractor Vs. Outsourced Development Team

New Product Development Contractor Vs. Outsourced Development Team

In nearly every manufacturing industry, from automotive to entertainment, there comes a time for most companies when they realize they don’t have the manpower they need to complete new development in a timely fashion. Whether you’re working on your next show property, or your team just can’t seem to find that perfect design you’re hoping for, it’s occasionally necessary to bring in outside help for a creativity injection and to take some of the additional workload off your busy team’s hands.

In situations where it makes sense to temporarily bring in a third party, companies have two choices:

  • Hire a contractor. This is usually one person, sometimes a few more, who will come to your facility to work with your team on the project you need completed.
  • Hire a product development firm. When you partner with a product development firm, your company will be assigned a specially selected team of designers and engineers to conceptualize and create the new product you’re looking for.

Depending on the type of work you need accomplished, you may choose one way or the other, but it’s important to first understand the pros and cons of each option, so you can select the out-of-house help that’s most likely to yield the result you need.

Contractor

What they do: When you hire a contractor to help with the creation and development of a new product, you’re essentially hiring a new employee, but without the risk, and on a specific timeline, for a specific purpose. Most contractors work, unsurprisingly, under a contract. That contract states exactly what your company needs from them, and who they need to work with to do it. Typically, that contract will also stipulate a timeline, expressing clearly how long the contractor has to complete the work.

Pros:

  • Contractors often work in your offices, with your existing team.
  • You can hire a contractor with a specific skill set your team may not already have.
  • You have an employee in-house, who you don’t have to pay large overhead fees like health insurance or benefits. You simply pay contractors for their time, which makes them cheaper than hiring a new full-time employee, or sending the project out to a product design firm.
  • You pay a contractor for their time until the job is complete. When the job is done, you both move on.
  • The contractor can handle the special projects that the rest of your team simply doesn’t have time for.

Cons:

  • When you hire a contractor, you only get one person. That means you hire either a designer or an engineer for new product development. With just one contractor, much of the work of feasibility will still fall on the shoulders of your existing team. While a contractor can help alleviate the work burden, your new product development will still put more work on the rest of your in-house team.
  • With a contractor, what you see is what you get. You’ll have an additional person, with a unique skill set coming into your office every day, but they won’t bring additional equipment or technology with them. If they need special programs or machines, your company will have to provide it.

Projects Best Suited to Contractors:

Contractors are best for special projects your team is working on that could use just a bit more manpower. If your team has already come up with concepts and just needs help properly engineering a new product, a contractor may be able to come in and help you out on that one specific piece of the project.

Contractors are best suited for projects that your team already has well in hand but need a bit of additional experience or a unique skill set to get the job done.

Product Development Firm

What they do: A product development firm provides a more wholistic service than a contractor, and they typically function outside of your office. A product development firm can take a concept or a new product development brief, and turn it from a simple sketch on paper into reality. A true partner in your business, a product development firm can work with you to consider concepts, decide on design, and then actually make your innovative new product work, though you may not need them for every step of the way.

Pros:

  • Scalability: When you work with a product development or industrial design firm, you’ll get exactly the number of people you need to create your product on your deadline. A great firm will have both designers and engineers, leveraging both skill sets to create and realize an innovative, functional product unlike anything else on the market.
  • Move extra work off in-house employees: When you shift new product development, even for just one product, over onto an design and engineering firm, you alleviate your workers of a massive workload that may have been crushing their productivity. Without the additional burden, your in-house team is able to perform their jobs efficiently.
  • Added creativity: With a whole new team working on your new concept, you’ll hear ideas and thoughts you’ve never heard before. It’s too easy to fall into standard procedure in-house — bringing in an outside team can help jumpstart innovation.
  • No overhead fees: When you hire a product development firm, that firm already has all of the tools they need to complete your project. You don’t have to shell out for a new machine or rendering software since that’s what the development firm does every single day. They’ll already have the specialized machinery necessary for the job.

Cons:

  • Higher Cost: It should come as no surprise that hiring an entire firm will cost more than hiring one contractor. Outsourcing a project or a new product to a development firm can seem like an expensive upfront cost, but when you consider what you’re getting for your money, the benefits are clear. You’ll have an entire team of specialized professionals dedicated to working on your project, and your project alone. That means you get the innovative solution you’re looking for, on your timeline.

Projects Best Suited to Product Development Firms:

Product development firms are best suited to mid-sized to larger-scale projects. Whether you have a big once-a-year show that you need a stunning show property for, or you’re looking for fresh innovation in some aspect of a new product, product development firms can help you with any aspect of your new concept.

From drawing up bold designs, all the way through feasibility testing and production, an industrial design or product development firm is truly your partner in the innovation process and will work with you every step of the way.

If your company needs help creating, designing, or building a new product, get in touch with Fredricks Design. A full-scale product development firm delivering creative product solutions, we want to know what we can innovate for you.

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Fredricks announces the addition of Christa Curtis to our team!

Fredricks announces the addition of Christa Curtis to our team!

We are delighted to announce the addition of Christa Curtis to our team!

Christa joins us as our Executive Assistant focused on our finance and administration systems.

She has deep and diverse experience working with Western Michigan professional service and CPA firms.

Effective immediately please direct all finance, administrative and general inquiries to christa.curtis@fredricks.com

Our primary office line is 616.846.7526.

Please join us in welcoming Christa to Team Fredricks…thanks!

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New Website and Social Media Launch

New Website and Social Media Launch

Our story is comprised of thousands of Client projects and solutions developed since 1984. We’ve been lucky and worked hard to earn a role on challenging projects with some of the world’s most demanding design and engineering teams. The new website provides a brief introduction and detailed review of our range of solutions and different ways our Clients work with our team.

Please take a few minutes to visit us and keep us in mind for your next project. The new website provides efficient ways to reach out to us to initiate work on your RFPs and proposals. Our goal with the new platform is to improve communications and our responsiveness to your projects with agile and right-sized resources.

A world of thanks to all of our Clients, suppliers and our team for our past and future projects together…thank you!

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