If you sell products, you know that product dev is the most important part of the equation. Spend too little time on it, and you risk putting out a product nobody wants, or worse yet, one that’s unsafe. So many companies are quick to rush a product to market just to start seeing revenues that they overlook valuable facets of this period.
The Fuzzy Front End
I’m not even sure where the term Fuzzy Front End came from, but to me it reminds me of when I look at something without my glasses on. Everything’s just a little out of focus (okay, a lot out of focus). In product development, you start with an idea. It can be raw and rough around the edges. In the Fuzzy Front End, you work on that idea. Figure out if it’s viable. Determine if anyone will buy it. You may start with Idea A and end up with Product G by the end, and that’s okay. Allow plenty of time for working through the idea, and don’t be married to it, or you might miss out on something better (a la Twitter).
It seems common enough sense to do your homework before producing a product, but you’d be surprised how many companies overlook part of this. Sure, you need to make sure the engineering works, but what about market research? If you assume your audience is stay at home moms and don’t do the research to find out it’s actually single women, you will pour money down the wrong drain. And in terms of the product, make sure it meets all legal requirements and doesn’t step on the toes of someone else’s patent. That can save you another costly mistake.
The reason there are product recalls in the market is because companies don’t spend enough time testing the product. Run it through the wringer. Try to break it. Try to choke on it. Do everything to it that your customers (or their kids) could possibly do to it. Then put it in the hands of your customers and let them play with it. I guarantee they’ll find new ways to find its flaws. And when you find a flaw, don’t ignore it; deal with it. Take it back to the design room and improve the problems. Otherwise you could end up on the recall list.
If you’re taking the time and money to put out a product, it only makes sense that you’d do it right. Spend the time and dollars to make sure the product is perfect and unbreakable. Then launch it.