When do you really need a prototype? That’s an important question for business men and women who need to make the most out of their time and resources.
An unnecessary prototype would be a waste of time and money; but if you lack a prototype when you really need one, that also will cost you time and money, to say nothing of the frustration of a false start.
The extra investment and planning you put into a prototype will frequently pay off, and you can even outsource your prototyping to prototype-focused companies like 3E Rapid Prototyping to streamline the process and get precise-to-order prototypes on your door-step in as little time as possible.
Here are 5 situations where you really will benefit from making a prototype of your product:
1. You Need More Accurate Requirements
Many times, focus groups, interviews, surveys, and other requirement-gathering methods fall short. But having to do a lot of rework because of unclear requirements can easily double the cost of a project.
One way to minimize such costs is to use a prototype so you can visualize and test the product early on and gain the direction you need to make the necessary improvements. It’s always cheaper to “fail” early than late.
2. Safety Demands Perfect Performance
In some industries, such as with products that regulate and manage traffic flow or with the design of essential auto parts, performance has to be perfect from the first moment your product is put to use.
This kind of high bar for safety demands that you work out all the bugs, even minute ones, before your product launch date. Prototyping lets you test out different materials, designs, and manufacturing processes to arrive at that elusive state called “perfection.”
3. You Need to Explore Some Possibilities
In some situations, you are dealing with two or more seemingly viable possibilities for your product, but it’s not initially clear which path is best (and you can’t afford to do both.) There may even be disagreements brewing on the design team over these types of issues.
Ordering multiple prototypes can allow you to A/B test your options, gather measurements and hard facts, and come to a decision that all team members will agree is best.
4. You Need Approval From Higher-ups or From a Buyer
If you are working on a product for someone else, be it someone higher up in your company or for a buyer who has ordered a custom-made product, you need to be able to demonstrate to them what you will deliver before you actually begin production.
You may need “proof of concept” or you may need to show the product to a retail buyer. Or, the product may need to be reviewed by a focus group first. All of these situations call for a prototype.
Finally, if you are filing a patent, your patent attorney will want to see a prototype if possible, and while it’s not required anymore to have a prototype to legally file a patent, it helps because it proves you have a “working idea” instead of “just an idea.”
5. You Want to Engage in Marketing Even Before the Product Is Finalized
If you want to start up a marketing campaign leading up to the actual release of your product, it helps immensely to have a prototype you can put in pictures and videos.
People want to catch a glimpse of what your product will be like and see it in action ahead of time – that requires a prototype.