By: Willis Whiteside, M.S., IDSA

Issue 080101 1st/2nd Quarter 2008

Preliminary Assessment

The need for an initial assessment of the commercial value of an idea is typically obvious to some but requires significant background research and development and planning prior to further pursuit. The decisions to proceed into further financial investment for patent evaluation, product and prototype development should be based on the business and market environments and calculated risks which help the entrepreneur or product manager increase the chances of market success. Determining the feasibility of whether a particular idea or invention has market and sales potential is a very complicated and multi angled process. Even large corporations with on staff industrial design and marketing, new product introduction teams have difficulty determining commercial market and sales potential. The preliminary assessment of an idea can be as simple as a sketch and recorded “gut” response or as involves as full prototyping and product test marketing. Tools such as 3D mock-ups, design, materials, engineering and manufacturing feasibilities studies, focus group analysis and 3D CAD can be implemented to evaluate ideas or product concepts prior to major capital investment.

Most business ventures or product development programs require assembly of a business plan with outlined objectives with defined phases and business decision milestones. The initial determination that an idea or product is worth further pursuit should be based on a process that helps define a business plan of attack. This preliminary assessment helps the decision makers justify the continued development and associated costs. The business of product development is a high risk and large investment game that the funding team must use whatever tools are available to help reduce the risk.   After the preliminary assessment of an idea has been given the Green Light, the decision to proceed to the patent protection process and commercial development can be easier. If determined appropriate, the formal Feasibility Study, can be implemented to further assist in defining overall design and engineering technical feasibility and define major hurdles and milestones that must be achieved.

The preliminary assessment service costs range based on the complexity of the project. The assessment concludes with a written document with a meeting and or telephone conference with the decision making team. In a formal services agreement associated deliverables, costs and timelines are broken out for decision-maker purposes. The master plan should include the breakdown, costs and time schedules to support the decision makers in determining the associated costs, risks, feasibility and potential rewards to market, design, engineer, manufacture and mass produce and package a new idea or product.

The empowerment slogan for the year: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen R. Covey

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