At 4D Products, we are specialists in product design and developing great ideas into something tangible. Unfortunately, we know all too well how some product developments can turn sour, particularly if the project is not appropriately managed right from the start. When it comes to developing new products, there are so many things that can potentially go wrong along the way, and a lot of these come down to the management of the project.

Our team are regularly asked to get involved with poorly managed development projects, that are quickly failing and in need of some expert assistance. While it is always easier for us to manage a product design and development project from the start, we have learnt a thing or two about rescuing poorly managed projects.

We address every project on a case by case basis, and each one will have its own unique plan to help it reach success. That being said, there are some common problems we see with poorly managed developments time and time again. Today, we are sharing some of the problems we see the most often, and how to rescue your project if these issues are affecting it.

Failing To Design for Manufacture

Many inexperienced project managers will neglect to consider how products are going to be made until they reach the final stages of design. A successful project will have considered manufacturing processes right from the very first design, and it is essential that this is introduced at the concept stage of development.

There is a fine line between failing to consider manufacturing until it is too late and worrying about it too early and hindering innovation. If you have a project which has reached the final design stage and you are now concerned about manufacturing, knowing what to do next can be challenging.

We recommend getting prospective manufacturers involved and asking for their opinions. You should also be open to tweaking your designs in order to make your product a success.

Lack Of Feedback from Stakeholders

It can be tempting for project managers to keep all their ideas and designs to themselves until a big reveal at the final stage. The truth is, just because a product design looks great to you and your design team, doesn’t mean everyone else will agree.

It is always best to keep stakeholders involved in the process and take their feedback on board. Set up a process for formal sign offs at each stage and provide regular status updates to keep them onside.

Overly Sensitive Product Designs

The last thing you want is a product design which is too sensitive to be practically viable. All mechanisms should be thoroughly explored and tested, so that you can understand how they will impact the product performance. Model all the dynamic movements carefully, which can reduce the number of development iterations and help you understand the performance sensitivity.

The key to product design is creating products which are robust and won’t fail if there is a small shift in parameters. If you do come across this problem with your project, it often requires you to go back a few stages in the process and complete the appropriate modelling.

No Market Insights

A product is only a success if it addresses the need of the target audience. A good project manager will start by immersing themselves with the prospective users and understanding the challenge that is hoping to be solved with the product. We often see designers fast tracking this research stage to get straight to the more exciting stages of concept design.

While market insight might but be thrilling, it is extremely valuable and can make or break a project. A product will never be an effective solution if you haven’t first grasped the problem at hand. Invest plenty of time and effort into this critical stage, and you will see the rest of your development come together nicely.

A Blinkered Mindset

So many project managers suffer from a blinkered mindset, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the development is poorly managed. It is a completely normal thing when a team has been dealing with the same problem for a long time.

Eventually, it is impossible to look at the problem objectively or with an outside perspective. When this happens, the best thing you can do is introduce new minds to the project. This can help by challenging current constraints and breathing new life into the product concept.


If you need help rescuing your product project, our team of experts are here to help. Contact us today.