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How to Effectively Communicate Product Development Risks


Our technical team spans all of the stages of new product development, from conceptual design through manufacturing transfer and regulatory compliance for a wide variety of clients and markets. The most important value that we offer to you is to identify and communicate risks as the project progresses.

On a regular basis, our customers commend us for our clear and frequent communication during a project. The following are a few of the techniques we use to communicate product development status and risks at the design team level.

Over Communicate

We strive to ‘over-communicate’ to your team and among ourselves. Many of us, particularly engineers, have a tendency to under-communicate, and not give a clear picture of the project status. I am sure you have known an engineer who under-communicated.

So to compensate, we strive to over-communicate what we are doing. We use this over-communication tactic both in writing as well as verbally. Since everybody has different ways of communicating, we use a combination of verbal and written communication to help get the message across clearly. 

Good Specifications

We invest a lot of effort in getting clear and complete specifications at the beginning of a project so that we can ensure our team is all on the same page with your team. We often help our clients develop the specifications. We may iterate several times with you to make sure that we have a complete understanding of your objectives and the constraints of the design problem. Although this may seem like a slow way to start, we have found this is the best way to make sure you get what you are asking for. We have found through our experience that this small amount of effort invested in clarity and completeness up front will prevent many problems from cropping up as the project progresses.

The schedule and the quality of the final result depend on a complete understanding of your needs and objectives upfront. The specification will drive not only our initial approach and decisions but many of our subsequent ones as well. We can make the best choices on your behalf when you invest some time upfront to accurately scope the desired performance, cost, and quality of your design.

See A Guide to Writing Product Requirements for New Medical Devices.

See How to Write a Products Requirements Document for Non-Medical Devices.

Stakeholder Collaboration

A successful project requires the communication and collaboration of key stakeholders. We strive to get buy-in and collaboration from all key stakeholders early in the project. We realize that our communication is not just limited to one narrow chain of command, but instead, we understand all the dotted lines of support that engineering provides for typical project teams.

Typical stakeholders we recommend involving include:

  • Marketing with the customer's perspective
  • Engineering team
  • Manufacturing
  • Customer service
  • Documentation team
  • Finance

Regular Meetings

We have a weekly meeting of our own management team. Each week, we review the project status among ourselves. We also have regular meetings with our clients. The frequency depends upon the project. Our focus is on continuous improvement. As we get better and more efficient ourselves, our customers win.

Communication is not what’s said but what’s understood. We may sometimes ask you to repeat what you have heard from us, and, we communicate back to you our understanding of what you have instructed us to do. This helps make sure that we both understand not only the project’s specification, but what the current status is, what risks we have identified and our plans to manage them, and what the current schedule is for completion. As we repeat this back and forth, we both begin to gain a more in-depth understanding of the project at hand.

Risk Mitigation

When a risk is identified, we have ways to reduce the risk. The most important is to address the risks as early as possible. Sometimes a feasibility investigation is required to determine if a particular design idea will work. The feasibility investigation is done before any design work.

In the past, we have sometimes determined that the design approach needs to be changed for unanticipated reasons as a result of the feasibility investigation. This has saved large amounts of money by avoiding problems early or not developing the wrong thing.

Voler’s project management approach allows us to meet schedules without compromising quality. Our engineers are experienced in good communication techniques and reducing risk.

Contact us today to discuss your product development needs.



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