“How long will it take?”

“How much will it cost?”

These are the first two questions most prospective Synapse clients ask when they approach us to develop their hardware product concept. The conversation often evolves to “what is possible within this budget and timeframe?” We understand it’s nearly impossible to escape answering these questions as part of the business plan to justify a significant product development investment.

A challenge for Synapse in answering accurately is that most of the products we help clients create are innovative—the first of their kind. In novel development programs, the lines between research and development are blurred and it’s likely that both the concept and the solution will undergo significant iteration along the way. Needless to say, providing good estimates of cost and duration up front is not easy. Underestimation risks leaving clients without enough budget to realize their ambition. Overestimation risks clients perceiving us as conservative or expensive.

To better estimate for clients, we’ve done what any engineer would do—we built a case study database and ran some numbers! Our goal in doing so was to understand the variables impacting development scope so we could provide our clients with not only more accurate estimates, but also an understanding of the levers they can utilize to work within target budgets and schedules. Here are the categories that emerged, based on our nearly 20-year history of hardware development consulting for hundreds of clients and products:

1. Clarity of the Product Purpose
2. Maturity of the Underlying Technology(TRL)
3. Magnitude and Complexity of the Product Ecosystem
4. Quality, Performance, and Compliance Requirements
5. Product Cost Optimization
6. Build and Launch Volumes
7. Development Budget and Schedule Constraints
8. Risk Tolerance

Download the ebook to dive further into each category—we hope this knowledge will help veteran product companies and hardware startups alike! 

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