The 3-Step Guide to Drafting Product Specs to Improve Design Efficiency

This is Part 2 of our series, “The Future of Medical Technology: Wearable Devices”. Read Part 1 here.

You have a great idea for a wearable device, the resources to start designing, and now you have to communicate this idea to your team. This step requires writing a list of product specifications, which appears to be a simple task, but you may quickly find that the devil is in the details. How do you know you’re covering everything the engineers need without adding too much detail too early in the process? Follow this simple guide for drafting a list of product specifications to improve your design efficiency and product outcome.

Step #1: Getting Started: Back to the Basics

Before you even think about drafting a specifications list, you should step back to the basics. A fully developed foundation for your product, known as a “needs statement” in engineering jargon, is the perfect way to get going. Here is the best way to write a fail-proof needs statement:

  1. Define the problem – In order to develop a needs statement, the problem must be understood. Start with writing down the problem to be solved with no mention of the solution.
  2. Translate the problem to a need – Write a needs statement that aims to directly reflect the goal of solving your stated problem. This will clarify your project scope.
  3. Verify that the need is solution independent – Do not include any specifics of the product design that would limit the solution to a particular technology, etc. Focus only on addressing the problem to be solved in your statement. This will prevent you from jumping too far ahead and allow the engineers some creative liberties.

Step #2: List Your Target Specifications: Be Specific

Now it’s time to start asking yourself any and every question about your product and write down the detail that answers each question. Keep the specifications short, concise, and clear, and make sure that you are only creating a list of “whats,” not “hows.” For example, you should answer questions such as “What kind of patient will be using my wearable device?” and not “How is it going to look?” Make sure to also provide an acceptable range (measurements, etc.) for all listed features so that you have a means for comparison at the end of the design process.

When you are finished writing the list, here are some good questions to ask yourself about each specification to make sure you are on the right track. If the specification does not have an answer to each one of the following, then it might be reaching too far ahead and should be removed from the target list.

  1. Is the feature specific and clear?
  2. Is the feature measurable?
  3. Is the feature attainable?
  4. Does the specification address your need?
  5. Is the feature reasonable given your timeline for the design process and budget?

Step #3: Finalize Your List: Be Realistic

Now it’s time to consult the engineers to make your final list of specifications. You should have a meeting to review your specifications and get answers from a technical perspective about what is possible versus overkill, what could work better, and what might be missing from your list. At the end of the meeting, your team should have enough information to draft a few concepts for refinement.

In your meeting, here are some good questions to ask the engineers:

  1. What safety requirements do you foresee accompanying the design?
  2. What regulations might be involved and how would you classify the device?
  3. What is an estimated development timeline based on the complexity of your device?

In turn, here are some questions to be prepared to answer:

  1. What are your target timelines?
  2. What is your estimated budget?
  3. What is the size of the intended market? Do you have an estimated scale of production?
  4. What other products and patents on the market are you familiar with that might be associated with your device?
  5. What in your specifications show your device is unique and important?

While developing product specifications may seem like a grueling task, you will find that the better the specifications are the more satisfied you will be with the end product. It is important to provide the development team their own creative liberties within the boundaries of the product scope you have laid out in the specifications. These specifications will be the guide for your engineers, ensuring that the product you envision will come to fruition.

Do you have the next great idea for a wearable device? Contact Anuva! Our years of expertise in designing and manufacturing medical devices will transform your idea into a reality!

By Anuva