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One Page Guide: overview of milestones in electronics development

Electronics Product Development Milestones

What’s the issue?

A recent market survey by the EM on business owners revealed that a common cause of frustration with developing electronics is the ‘smoke and mirrors’ treatment offered by developers. One said that it’s like chucking your money over a fence and crossing your fingers in the hope that what comes back will meet expectations. This is clearly unacceptable. This article defines the major milestones, discusses dependencies, and highlights the most common risks at each stage. It is essential reading for anyone who’s nervous about the process.

Is electronics product development complex?

I am afraid that it is, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be a smoke and mirrors exercise. If the process your developer uses is sound you should have a good feel for the following at all times:

  • Where you are in the process
  • Where you are going next
  • Where the ultimate goal is
  • Milestones and risks along the route
  • A no shocks policy from all parties – technical and commercial hurdles should be communicated as soon as known, not just when imminent. 
  • A less than 24 hour response if you need to ask questions to clarify any of the above
  • An at least weekly review meeting between stakeholders
  • A vision of the milestones and what they mean, which is what this article is about

What’s the EM’s electronics development journey in brief?

Each stage changes from project to project, and clients needs vary enormously, but the essential truths of the milestones remains the same. The bullets below identify, define and indicate how each milestone works. 
  • Feasibility
  • Specification
  • Design (hardware/firmware/software)
  • Prototype manufacture
  • Prototype test
  • Approvals test
  • Pre-production manufacture
  • Beta testing