Documentation is key for any product development and typically spans the length of the entire development process in one form or another. Many who are new to this process may ask why design documentation is so important during product development.

To understand the importance of documentation, it is helpful to understand what exactly this may include.  Though it may vary by engineering services firms, design documentation can include 3D design files, 2D design drawings, photo realistic renderings, animations to illustrate operation, assembly, interactions, etc., assembly process documents and product overview and descriptions. Product designers have a great responsibility to their potential customers since customers have challenges and the product needs to provide a sense of being able to solve that problem. This is where design documentation comes into play.

The first reason for documentation, such as the examples listed above, are important is for marketing and investor information materials.  For many individuals who have engaged an engineering services firm to assist with their product design, they will at some point need to either seek investor monies, or have materials to effectively market the product to those interested.  Much of the time, this type of documentation is crucial to bringing a product to market. By creating this kind of documentation, which allows you to clarify your unique value proposition, you provide a very clear message of what problem the product can solve, illustrating its usefulness to the market.

Along those same lines, design documentation can provide overviews and descriptions of the product that is being created, again to engage an audience for further financial commitment, or to utilize when the product is manufactured and goes to market. According to the book, “Using and Understanding Engineering Services and Construction Contracts”, a client should have some assurance from the design services firm that documentation is provided during the process to keep the project on task.

A third reason that documentation is crucial involves the application for a product patent, where it’s necessary to provide a written document which comprises a specification (product and description) and drawings, among other items.  Having an engineering services company provide this for you during the product design is an important part of the process.

A design document is quite simply an effective way for you to communicate to others who may be interested in your product what your design decisions are and why your decisions are worthy and reasonable decisions. This is helpful to not only be able to communicate the value of the product to external stakeholders, but internal stakeholders within an organization as well, protecting from any disconnect in understanding.

Last, design documentation can be leveraged when creating drawings for manufacturing or assembly drawings, or even illustrate operation or product interactions. The more complete the product that is being designed, the more critical these drawings become to assist the end use in product utilization, or to help the potential investor to be able to accurately envision how the product would be manufactured, assembled or operated.

Design documentation is a critical component for bringing technology to life through innovative engineering and results-oriented project management.  While there are some templates available that may allow an end user to attempt this documentation themselves, having design documentation incorporated throughout the entire process as executed by a product design firm will likely yield the most accurate and effective documentation for future use.

Morten Jensen
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