Is it technically viable?
It is fundamentally true that consumers buy products for the benefits they provide, not for the technology underlying the product. You probably have a mental picture of your idea or innovation expressed as a product of some shape or process in some form, and no doubt you have in mind how that final product and process looks, feels, provides benefit and, ultimately, used for its purpose in the hands of your customers or users. This has to be your goal, and the end point of this entire feasibility exercise is to determine how you will make a sustainable profit from the sale of products or successful implementation of a new business model, process or service.
If the idea or concept has demonstrated a measure of commercial feasibility that is sufficient for your purposes, the next step is to explore how you turn it into a product or process. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a working model of the product or process?
- Have you evaluated the safety factors of the model?
- Have you evaluated the environmental factors?
- Have you evaluated the feasibility of producing the product or implementing the process?
- Have you measured how the product or process will perform?
- Do you have a design for the product or process?
- Do you have a design for the production process?
Prove it …
But how do you convert an idea into a productised form, which functions the way you intend it to, is reproducible in sufficient quantities, and is effectively delivered to the end-user by the method you planned, with the expected or intended benefits of the idea/product being enjoyed by the customer?
Before you consider embarking on mass product development or manufacturing activities based on a raw idea or concept that hasn’t been tested or validated, evaluating whether the idea or concept is even technically achievable is essential. Conducting a technical feasibility is a sequential evaluative process of proving that an idea or concept is technically possible.
In broad terms this means taking the various development steps necessary to ensure the product actually achieves the results or outcomes you intend or claim it to achieve. The objective of the technical feasibility step is to confirm that the product will perform, ensure that there are no production barriers and that the final prepared product is of practical benefit. In essence, you have to prove your idea and its product or service actually works…
By undertaking a proof-of-concept process you are gathering sufficient evidence of the technical viability of the idea for your product or service. Importantly, elements of the technical viability process will impact some of the commercial feasibility assumptions or conclusions, which will need to be adjusted as new knowledge of the product emerges.
The proof-of-concept stage generates knowledge about the product’s design, performance, production requirements, and preliminary production costs. Generally the end-result of this activity is a working model, more commonly known as a prototype.
At this stage ideas are turned into operational form (certainly not the final form), the core functionality of the idea is tested, basic prototypes may be developed and IP registration can be taken out. It is essential that the results of a proof-of-concept are reproducible, and, if relevant, the quality expectations of the relevant regulatory community are satisfied. While Table 1 provides further clarification and detail of the typical activities that could be involved in a proof-of-concept, broadly some proof-of-concept activities will involve:
- Initial production of a new product prototype and testing to determine if it can actually be used as desired; and/or
- Running a new process for the first time and testing to determine that it performs the desired transformation of inputs to outputs; and/or
- Delivering a service for the first time and testing to determine that the expected benefits to recipients are realised and that the delivery method is effective.
Table 1. Typical activities involved in pre-, post- and at, proof of concept activities for certain product classes.
|Biotechnology||Engineering & manufacturing||Information technology & telecommunications|
* These terms have a particular meaning in conducting trials
In completing elements of any of the above proof-of-concept steps, some of the essential, yet generic, outcomes of the activity need to achieve or uncover the following issues:
- Examine the operational requirements of the product or process;
- Identify potential safety and environmental hazards;
- Conduct a preliminary production assessment;
- Conduct a preliminary manufacturing assessment;
- Estimate engineering prototype costs.
Links to subsections of this topic
Is it commercially feasible?
Is it technically viable?