Demystifying the role of product development consultants

Demystifying the role of product development consultants

April 2024

by the 42T team

The journey from an initial idea to a commercially successful product is one that requires in-depth knowledge and expertise which is where product development consultants have a significant contribution to make. But they're also useful for project rescue, or when resources and timeframes are tight.

We live in a time when consumer demands evolve at speed, where innovation drives the market, and markets are so incredibly competitive that delivering a standout product that meets all the important metrics such as cost, recyclability, and repairability can be very challenging. 

Product development consultants

Navigating the path from concept to a market-ready product demands a profound depth of knowledge and expertise, making product development consultants an invaluable 'secret weapon' for many companies.

Why engage consultants?

Consultants play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between an initial idea and its market realisation within as short a time-frame as possible, ensuring both customer satisfaction and a product's commercial viability. 

Says Dr Peter Brown, Director of Industrial at 42T: "We can also provide an expert resource at short notice or where project deadlines are especially pressing or, in some cases, where projects need rescue or timescales for projects look like they may be compromised. Typically, we're also useful for projects where hiring in certain skills is a challenge for the client or where long-term resourcing either isn’t warranted, or desirable."

"We often save client budget by shortening the timeframe of the project, bringing significant process or technical product improvements to bear, thereby saving further resources in the process."

In this article, we explore the comprehensive service that product development consultants like 42T can provide for businesses, examining how their expertise is often the lynchpin of product development processes across many  industries from consumer products to medical devices, industrial products to manufacturing.

Crucial stages in product development

Product development is a structured sequence that encompasses going from an idea to a product. It begins with market research to identify consumer needs and market trends, followed by ideation, where product concepts take shape. Testing this research, for example, through ethnographic and related research, is usually part of the service a product development consultancy knows how to provide.

Product development consultants are crucial as they play a role in the ideation of product concepts, and they employ an innovation strategy to refine these concepts into viable product offerings.

Product development consultants

Ideation to market research

The process begins by understanding the initial idea, who target customers or users are likely to be, the operating model of the business, and the user journey (eg. LCA or lifecycle assessment) to help support development. This is critical for setting a strong foundation for the product development project.

Design and engineering

With a solid understanding of the market and the customer, the product development process moves into the design and engineering phase. Product development consultants with expertise in industrial design will work closely with the design team to develop innovative products that meet the identified needs. 

Deploying new technology

Companies often don't have access to the latest tech like AI, digital twins, machine learning and sensor technology. They may not have the time, budget or knowledge to invest in it either. This is where product development consultants can be deployed to maximum effect by enhancing the project or making a significant difference in a competitive market.

Product development consultants

Prototyping and testing

Before a product can be introduced to the market, it undergoes rigorous prototyping and testing. Product development consultants oversee this critical phase, ensuring that the product's design is not only functional and desirable but also manufacturable and scalable. They also focus on intellectual property considerations, protecting innovation and the business.

Where can product development consultants add value?

Product development consultants offer invaluable expertise across the entire product lifecycle. Their ability to analyse customer needs and define innovation strategy enables them to guide development projects towards delivering the best possible product. They are extremely helpful in navigating the complexities of new product development, from the initial idea to the final product introduction.

A customised approach to innovation

Product development consultants understand the importance of a customised approach while also understanding the strength in working across sectors, allowing them to pull ideas from various disciplines (mechanical, electronics, software, etc) and can offer solutions to challenges that are truly unique.

Whether for consumer products or industrial products, consultants are able to tailor innovation to meet the project's specific needs. 

Peter Brown adds, "Consultants are typically well positioned to offer a vast range of skills and expertise under one roof as departments work together all the time. At 42T, our idea sharing and brainstorming is highly collaborative, and for that reason, highly effective."

"We ensure that all aspects of the product development process are aligned with our client's overarching business goals. This integrated approach is critical for the development of innovative products and processes that not only are technologically advanced but also resonate with customers while meeting the cost, sustainability credentials, and other needs of the business."

The difference between project success or failure

As businesses continue to navigate the challenges of product development, strategic partnerships with product development consultants are undoubtedly a key factor in achieving commercial success, competitive edge and long-term growth.

Product development consultants bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise in product management, design, and engineering to ensure that new products and processes are not only realised but fit for the future.

At 42T, we specialise in product development from the design and analysis stages through to prototyping, handover to manufacturers and beyond.

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