Why Your Design and Engineering Teams Should Be Integrated
The key to any successful product development program is collaboration from the start. Whether you’re revamping a current product offering or designing a new product from the ground up, integrating multiple disciplines from the beginning will ensure your development goals will be met in the end.
Design and engineering teams - join forces! Designers and engineers take on different roles throughout a program. Designers focus on the end user by providing solutions that are intuitive, ergonomic and visually appealing. Engineers combine their creative problem solving skills with engineering and manufacturing principles to provide solutions that meet functional requirements, quality standards, cost goals and timing. On day one of the project kickoff, all team members need to be sitting in the same room, around the same table, working together to create a single, strategic plan of action. Aesthetics, usability, functionality, product performance, manufacturing and final product cost all play critical roles in the development cycle, so the need for constant communication between all parties throughout is essential.
Up front design research enables the team to explore the problem from both a mechanical and design perspective, learn about the user, their behaviors, needs, and discover insights into unique design opportunities. This approach helps the cross-disciplinary team build a roadmap that paves the way for a successful project. Not all roadmaps are straight; many have loops and turns driving exploration into multiple avenues and proof of concept work (the fun stuff). It is easy for a disconnected team to go off onto these diverse paths for prolonged periods of time, making it impossible to implement all of the conflicting design and engineering details when the teams realign at the end of the exploration. This wastes time, budget and unfortunately results in unmet goals. The integration of robust design and engineering teams builds a productive environment where together the team is able to ideate, evaluate and refine ideas throughout a project, keeping focus on the development goals set at the outset.
By uniting the minds of the creative and visual with the minds of the technical and mechanical, innovative solutions are created. This process accelerates the product development cycle and generates cohesive design solutions that meet the needs of consumers, are functionally sound, manufacturable and of the highest quality.
The practice of integrating design and engineering has proven to be successful for our team at i3 over the past 20+ years. It’s a philosophy that has driven the company from the start, resulting in an impressive list of loyal clients and successful projects. It has assisted us in building a culture where ideas can be freely shared and where the best design solutions are held above traditional roadblocks to innovation.