Working Together to Find the Right Solution
GroundProbe’s Principal R&D Engineer, Pat Bellett, and GroundProbe’s Co-Founder, Dr Glen Stickley
At GroundProbe we are constantly working with our customers to provide them with the right solution to their high-value problems. We do this by gaining insight into what their true issues are and building strong, collaborative partnerships across all business functions from marketing, sales, operations, customer support, R&D, through to our product development teams.
We Research the Market Landscape
For us, gaining a broad understanding of the market is imperative but it’s not always so straightforward or easy to get an accurate understanding of what’s really required. The market landscape is complex, often compounded by a variety of different competitor offerings. Our aim is to gain an in-depth understanding of how a proposed solution might integrate, in conjunction with an existing product portfolio—or whether a new solution is required—so there’s lots to consider!
We Look at the Best Ways to Solve the Problem
Problem solving is in our DNA. For us it involves talking to and—importantly—listening to our valued customers. At times it involves analysing existing solutions and attempting to identify shortcomings or inefficiencies or adapting and/or combining existing technologies. It can also include evolving our products over time to better suit our customer’s needs or leveraging the capabilities of new and emerging technologies. What is consistent is we always aim to deliver gains on performance, reliability and cost. We also aim to continuously develop and adapt our leadership model in sustainable business practices by adopting clean energy sources and practices.
We Build a Robust ‘Productisation’ Process
A key to developing a successful concept solution is a fast iteration R&D with an 80/20 approach. Where appropriate, to increase speed and/or reduce risk, partnerships and collaborations are desirable.
We do this by beginning with a high-level product risk assessment. The process evolves and drives priorities across the product lifecycle from concept to fully supported product. The early-stage goal is not to make a perfect solution but to deliver a working prototype with good product value, as well as minimise risk and effort; it is crucial to seek and obtain customer input earlier rather than later. The highest risks are attacked first with the development of a prototype that’s suitable for local testing. Double-sided tape, cables ties, and software and hardware hacks are encouraged—the process is not rocket science but is grounded in common sense and a collaborative approach.
Part of the ongoing product risk assessment looks at IP and determines what is protectable by patent, or kept as a trade secret, and what can be potentially published. To this end, non-disclosure agreements are important considerations before field testing with strategic partners and customers.
System refinements from early learnings are often required and improvements are made to ensure early adopter testing with pre-production prototypes are robust enough for the task. This level of early product field testing is essential; more people across all functions within the company are involved in supporting and developing the emerging product.
And before you know it, the ‘productisation’ process takes over and a fully supported product is born!