Product Development Company

Product Development and Strategic Product Design Firm

As a top product development company, we use a collaborative design and engineering process based on human-centered research

RKS logo small

Product Development

Services

About RKS

RKS is a top product development firm. As one of the best product development companies in the world, we use a holistic design and engineering process based on human-centered research. We use our advanced psycho-aesthetic design-thinking process to solve complex problems that arise from design, engineering, intellectual property, and regulatory issues. We also draw on our unique resources and expertise. Our cross-disciplinary specialists, researchers, designers, and engineers leverage their deep experience within multiple industries and technologies to spark creative and innovative solutions that drives success products to market and positive business outcomes.

 

New product development is a series of steps that typically begin with an idea; however, it can also start with a working technology intended for market launch. In either case, new product development is a unique process that blends design and engineering innovation and risk management. In most cases, a product development firm is tasked with defining and proving out the technologies required for a new product or service. These core competencies also usually involves selecting or combining core technologies. Every product development collaboration presents a unique set of challenges. Therefore, it is crucially important to find a product development firm with the necessary skillset and experience in managing the risks involved to guide the project front beginning to end successfully.

 

RKS logo small
Clients that have moved with us
Animated list of RKS client logos

As one of the best product development companies in the world, we use a holistic design and engineering process based on human-centered research

RKS logo small

Product Development Overview

About RKS

RKS is a top product development firm. As one of the best product development companies in the world, we use a holistic design and engineering process based on human-centered research. We use our advanced psycho-aesthetic design-thinking process to solve complex problems that arise from design, engineering, intellectual property, and regulatory issues. We also draw on our unique resources and expertise. Our cross-disciplinary specialists, researchers, designers, and engineers leverage their deep experience within multiple industries and technologies to spark creative and innovative solutions that drives success products to market and positive business outcomes.

 

New product development is a series of steps that typically begin with an idea; however, it can also start with a working technology intended for market launch. In either case, new product development is a unique process that blends design and engineering innovation and risk management. In most cases, a product development firm is tasked with defining and proving out the technologies required for a new product or service. These core competencies also usually involves selecting or combining core technologies. Every product development collaboration presents a unique set of challenges. Therefore, it is crucially important to find a product development firm with the necessary skillset and experience in managing the risks involved to guide the project front beginning to end successfully.

 

RKS logo small
Clients that have moved with us
Animated list of RKS client logos

Research for Product Development

Product design is a consecutive and interactive process that begins with the research phase. The best idea doesn’t always win if it doesn’t find the right place in the market providing the right benefits. Research is a key enabler for the product development process. It provides our teams and stakeholders with a true north to map technologies and features to identify customer needs and market opportunities. In some cases, clients bring research to us. In other cases, we conduct this research ourselves. Our researchers and designers have completed hundreds of ethnographies, personas, and competitive research studies worldwide. These allow us to benchmark the market and customers for the new product.

Customer Research for Product Development

We use customer research to understand why and how key features or design decisions fill customer needs and satisfy customer preferences. Our team works with our clients to view who their consumers are and how they live their lives. We use primary research tools such as surveys and ethnography and secondary sources such as internal client documentation to create this view. Leveraging this understanding of the market, we build personas representing the likes, dislikes, desires, and needs of potential target customers. This approach is used to establish holistic and essential understandings that are synthesized into actionable consumer insights that drive design and development choices for the product development process. 

Competitive Product Benchmarking for Product Development

The opportunity to create new products usually exists in the opportunity zone between existing products in the market. In addition to customer research, we also do market research through competitive benchmarking. We create a landscape of potential competitors in the market, how they position themselves, and their key differentiators and attractors. We combine diverse data such as customer reviews, form factors, user experience, and user interfaceinto a visual representation using our P/A Methodology. By creating a unique easy-to-understand visual map, we can engage with stakeholders to achieve buy-in when critical decisions are made about the products and experiences. 

P/A Framework

Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continually progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool that allows designers to the solution around a shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approach to product design. Our P/A product design process has seven phases that begin with research. Within the initial research phase, we perform customer research, competitor benchmarking, and word bank creation. We synthesize this research into competitive mapping, triggers and personas, and the Opportunity Zone. At this point in the process, we examine, identify, define, and forecast the product’s needs. Next, we identify and define the Key Attractors that engage particular target groups. By focusing our designs and product features on these attractors, we can predictably cause customers who adopt the product to become evangelists. 

Stakeholder Buy-In

Companies bootstrapping product development usually need to achieve stakeholder buy-in early on for their product development idea to ensure project success for their idea and for their company. Our team can generate company marketing assets like the market opportunity, animations, and renders after the initial design and technology phases. These assets can showcase an idea early on, allowing the business and management teams to creatively collaborate on the project, and connect the dots from idea to business impact. Clients often use these assets for stakeholder buy-in within their company or for Kickstarter and other funding campaigns in startups. These project assets are invaluable in aligning internal stakeholders across the organization around an idea and keeping the project moving along. 

Product: JuvedermErgonomic syringe development to enable doctors to perform procedures to enhance beauty and maintain youth. 

 

Research for Product Development

Product design is a consecutive and interactive process that begins with the research phase. The best idea doesn’t always win if it doesn’t find the right place in the market providing the right benefits. Research is a key enabler for the product development process. It provides our teams and stakeholders with a true north to map technologies and features to identify customer needs and market opportunities. In some cases, clients bring research to us. In other cases, we conduct this research ourselves. Our researchers and designers have completed hundreds of ethnographies, personas, and competitive research studies worldwide. These allow us to benchmark the market and customers for the new product.

Customer Research for Product Development
We use customer research to understand why and how key features or design decisions fill customer needs and satisfy customer preferences. Our team works with our clients to view who their consumers are and how they live their lives. We use primary research tools such as surveys and ethnography and secondary sources such as internal client documentation to create this view. Leveraging this understanding of the market, we build personas representing the likes, dislikes, desires, and needs of potential target customers. This approach is used to establish holistic and essential understandings that are synthesized into actionable consumer insights that drive design and development choices for the product development process. 
Competitive Product Benchmarking for Product Development
The opportunity to create new products usually exists in the opportunity zone between existing products in the market. In addition to customer research, we also do market research through competitive benchmarking. We create a landscape of potential competitors in the market, how they position themselves, and their key differentiators and attractors. We combine diverse data such as customer reviews, form factors, user experience, and user interfaceinto a visual representation using our P/A Methodology. By creating a unique easy-to-understand visual map, we can engage with stakeholders to achieve buy-in when critical decisions are made about the products and experiences. 
P/A Framework

Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continually progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool that allows designers to the solution around a shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approach to product design. Our P/A product design process has seven phases that begin with research. Within the initial research phase, we perform customer research, competitor benchmarking, and word bank creation. We synthesize this research into competitive mapping, triggers and personas, and the Opportunity Zone. At this point in the process, we examine, identify, define, and forecast the product’s needs. Next, we identify and define the Key Attractors that engage particular target groups. By focusing our designs and product features on these attractors, we can predictably cause customers who adopt the product to become evangelists. 

Stakeholder Buy-In

Companies bootstrapping product development usually need to achieve stakeholder buy-in early on for their product development idea to ensure project success for their idea and for their company. Our team can generate company marketing assets like the market opportunity, animations, and renders after the initial design and technology phases. These assets can showcase an idea early on, allowing the business and management teams to creatively collaborate on the project, and connect the dots from idea to business impact. Clients often use these assets for stakeholder buy-in within their company or for Kickstarter and other funding campaigns in startups. These project assets are invaluable in aligning internal stakeholders across the organization around an idea and keeping the project moving along. 

Technology Development for New Products

New products usually require new technologies that can be iterations of existing technologies or built entirely from the ground up. New technologies can be new processes, new mechanisms, using materials in new ways, or a combination of all three. Making choices around how to use or create new technologies is a vital risk of the product development process. We manage this risk at every stage in the process. By creating KPIs at the outset, we make sure that new technologies align with our client’s business and strategic goals and key customer needs. By having our engineering and development teams work collaboratively with all stakeholders early in the process, they can influence earlier decisions that reduce the risk of issues further along in the process. Our risk management techniques create a solid foundation for engineering, new technology creation, and manufacturing and software development.

Technology Sourcing for Product Development

Technology sourcing is a core competency of ours, and critical to the product development process. Technology sourcing is an early stage interactive matching process between external technologies and internal requirements of the new product development idea. Through technology sourcing, the product development process will consider the technologies that enable the key customer and business needs of a product and that will potentially disrupt the product in the future. We use technology roadmapping to build a case for each new technology we recommend, using the short-term and long-term business and strategic goals of a new product. Because technology scouting can also be used for competitive strategy, we view our role as core to creating long-term market success for new products. We leverage our decades of experience and relationships with key providers for each new product development.

Proof of concept prototyping for Product Development

Prototypes are routinely used as part of the product engineering process to give engineers and designers the ability to explore design alternatives, test theories, and confirm performance before manufacturing a product. Almost every project uses prototypes in some way. Proof of principal is conceptual in nature. A proof of principal is exploratory, and we use it to imagine how technology could work sometimes without the product. On the other hand, a proof of concept is used to understand how the full product will work and looks closer to a believable product. A proof of concept is not a finished design, but we use it as the basis for taking the technology further forward into the product development process. Prototypes help our designers learn about manufacturing a product, how people will use the product, and how the product could fail or break.

Intellectual Property Support for Product Development

Utility patents are a quantitative gauge of how much innovation a development firm produces and the impact previous development projects have had in the market and business outcomes. Firms that generate a lot of Intellectual Property (IP) are usually better at innovation and much quicker at development, saving client time and money. They are also usually better at managing risk, which means that they can pivot and create a lower cost of goods for solutions. With over 400 patents, RKS is incredibly successful at both generating IP and providing full-service intellectual property support for new products.

 

Compliance Risks

Governmental organizations and associations often impose compliance requirements on new products and services. While these requirements differ by company and industry, the risk is always the same; rejection by these associations creates a core risk in product development. Often these requirements create minimum specifications for the form, function, and technologies used in a product. We navigate these risks by relying on our deep understanding of compliance issues and years of experience finding best-in-class solutions to each compliance requirement. Our risk management expertise extends to those requirements proposed by agencies and associations such as the FDA, FCC, CLIA, ISO, and the European Devices Regulation (MDR). 

Global Services

Our work spans the globe, and we offer our product development services to teams and companies around the world. Our team has traveled to India, Africa, Europe, and everywhere in between. Our company is well suited to the challenges of international work, navigating cultural and geographic barriers. Sometimes our team travels onsite, and other times we conduct the process remotely. Our global project management services allow us to work closely with business stakeholders and company management. Our company is fundamentally structured to enable our team to render our product development services anywhere in the world. 

Product: Kor OnePersonal hydration with style to eliminate the use of disposable bottles and ensure a brighter future. 

 

Technology Development for New Products

New products usually require new technologies that can be iterations of existing technologies or built entirely from the ground up. New technologies can be new processes, new mechanisms, using materials in new ways, or a combination of all three. Making choices around how to use or create new technologies is a vital risk of the product development process. We manage this risk at every stage in the process. By creating KPIs at the outset, we make sure that new technologies align with our client’s business and strategic goals and key customer needs. By having our engineering and development teams work collaboratively with all stakeholders early in the process, they can influence earlier decisions that reduce the risk of issues further along in the process. Our risk management techniques create a solid foundation for engineering, new technology creation, and manufacturing and software development.
Technology Sourcing for Product Development
Technology sourcing is a core competency of ours, and critical to the product development process. Technology sourcing is an early stage interactive matching process between external technologies and internal requirements of the new product development idea. Through technology sourcing, the product development process will consider the technologies that enable the key customer and business needs of a product and that will potentially disrupt the product in the future. We use technology roadmapping to build a case for each new technology we recommend, using the short-term and long-term business and strategic goals of a new product. Because technology scouting can also be used for competitive strategy, we view our role as core to creating long-term market success for new products. We leverage our decades of experience and relationships with key providers for each new product development.
Proof of concept prototyping for Product Development
Prototypes are routinely used as part of the product engineering process to give engineers and designers the ability to explore design alternatives, test theories, and confirm performance before manufacturing a product. Almost every project uses prototypes in some way. Proof of principal is conceptual in nature. A proof of principal is exploratory, and we use it to imagine how technology could work sometimes without the product. On the other hand, a proof of concept is used to understand how the full product will work and looks closer to a believable product. A proof of concept is not a finished design, but we use it as the basis for taking the technology further forward into the product development process. Prototypes help our designers learn about manufacturing a product, how people will use the product, and how the product could fail or break.
Intellectual Property Support for Product Development

Utility patents are a quantitative gauge of how much innovation a development firm produces and the impact previous development projects have had in the market and business outcomes. Firms that generate a lot of Intellectual Property (IP) are usually better at innovation and much quicker at development, saving client time and money. They are also usually better at managing risk, which means that they can pivot and create a lower cost of goods for solutions. With over 400 patents, RKS is incredibly successful at both generating IP and providing full-service intellectual property support for new products.

 

Compliance Risks

Governmental organizations and associations often impose compliance requirements on new products and services. While these requirements differ by company and industry, the risk is always the same; rejection by these associations creates a core risk in product development. Often these requirements create minimum specifications for the form, function, and technologies used in a product. We navigate these risks by relying on our deep understanding of compliance issues and years of experience finding best-in-class solutions to each compliance requirement. Our risk management expertise extends to those requirements proposed by agencies and associations such as the FDA, FCC, CLIA, ISO, and the European Devices Regulation (MDR). 

Global Services

Our work spans the globe, and we offer our product development services to teams and companies around the world. Our team has traveled to India, Africa, Europe, and everywhere in between. Our company is well suited to the challenges of international work, navigating cultural and geographic barriers. Sometimes our team travels onsite, and other times we conduct the process remotely. Our global project management services allow us to work closely with business stakeholders and company management. Our company is fundamentally structured to enable our team to render our product development services anywhere in the world. 

Late-Stage Product Development

Among the design and engineering competencies, product development is the third competency that only some design and engineering firms have. Depending on the project and how it has evolved from its inception, a design firm will also be your product development firm. In our experience, designers bring a diversity of perspectives to the tasks of engineering and development to new product ideas. A development firm like RKS can leverage both designers and engineers to create impactful innovations and patentable solutions through a meld of both disciplines. Moreover, with both key skills in-house, we design and develop products that are layered on a foundation of engineering excellence, which increases speed to market, product quality, customer engagement, and, ultimately, their likelihood of positive business outcomes and success in the market. 

Product Design for Product Development

Human-centered product design begins with holistic research. We use our P/A framework to guide us through this design process. We start to design by understanding the customer and client through primary and secondary research. Then we synthesize that research into actional qualitative insights that can be used for design choices. These insights allow us to identify the key attractors of our target personas. Key Attractors guide us in making design choices that form emotional connections. These emotional connections are what makes a product unique. During this design time we also involve business stakeholders in collaborative ideas brainstorms. Over the decades, we’ve used this framework to design hundreds of products that enrich customers’ lives and propel companies forward. This design process also enhances market and business outcomes of products we develop. 

Product Formative Usability Testing for Product Development

Usability testing is a method used to evaluate how easy the design is to use. The tests take place with real users to measure how ‘usable’ or ‘intuitive’ a design is and how easy it is for users to reach their goals. Formative testing puts a product in users’ hands at the prototype stage. With this testing, we can determine which technology and design specifications need to be implemented or adjusted. Asking users to test the devices according to exact instructions can also reveal problems that might not otherwise appear. We also conduct summative testing, which validates the human factors testing. This testing occurs after production and includes the training and labeling of the final product. 

Product Engineering for Product Development

Even if a client is hiring a development firm to produce only a proof-of-concept prototype, technical due diligence early on is vital in creating a sound foundation on which to build the product. A client may perhaps only be looking for an industrial design concept for their idea – the external form factor, with color, materials, and finishes – and not a fully engineered product. However, in some cases the industrial design concepts have not been subjected to at least a foundational level of engineering and design for manufacture.

In that case, the concepts usually have to undergo considerable rework late on. With both disciplines under the same roof at RKS, working hand-in-hand, this becomes a seamlessly integrated aspect of early design concept development and review. When engineering is outsourced and not integrated, clients will encounter development delays, additional costs to remedy miscalculation at the design stage and less rich and meaningful innovation.

Material selection for Product Development

Successful design and manufacturing employ an understanding of materials science and engineering. Materials science is the relationship between a material’s composition, microstructure, properties, and manufacturing effects on a material’s microstructure. Materials engineering is the task of applying materials science knowledge to the creation of products and manufacturing designs. In many cases, up to 70% of the cost to make a product might be its materials. Therefore, whether a product meets all its performance, reliability, and cost requirements depends on whether a team selects the appropriate materials and implements them correctly. 

Materials Sourcing for Product Development

Using our established relationships, we often have unique access to materials and materials supply for product development. In addition to being strategic partners, our suppliers can also often be sources of innovative ideas for future products. For products requiring manufacturing, sourcing is one of the essential services we offer. Through close relationships, our suppliers have the freedom to support innovation efforts that can result in a competitive advantage for both our clients and the supplier. More often than not, our diverse set of relationships allows us to compare costs and have a backup option if one of our suppliers cannot perform. We provide management of the entire sourcing process. 

Product Manufacturing for Product Development

We’ve developed relationships with manufacturers all over the world. Our decades of experience have also allowed us to source and vet new partners when necessary reliably. Our sourcing and vetting management services include finding the right partner and managing the production of the final product. While manufacturing is the last stage, decisions made early on can make manufacturing the product cheaper and more efficient. Our team engages our manufacturing partners throughout the process to ensure the early decisions are consistent with manufacturing needs.

Flowater sketches showing design

Product: FloWaterA more premium, refreshing, and sustainable alternative to disposable water bottles.

Product Development

Among the design and engineering competencies, product development is the third competency that only some design and engineering firms have. Depending on the project and how it has evolved from its inception, a design firm will also be your product development firm. In our experience, designers bring a diversity of perspectives to the tasks of engineering and development to new product ideas. A development firm like RKS can leverage both designers and engineers to create impactful innovations and patentable solutions through a meld of both disciplines. Moreover, with both key skills in-house, we design and develop products that are layered on a foundation of engineering excellence, which increases speed to market, product quality, customer engagement, and, ultimately, their likelihood of positive business outcomes and success in the market. 

Product Design for Product Development
Human-centered product design begins with holistic research. We use our P/A framework to guide us through this design process. We start to design by understanding the customer and client through primary and secondary research. Then we synthesize that research into actional qualitative insights that can be used for design choices. These insights allow us to identify the key attractors of our target personas. Key Attractors guide us in making design choices that form emotional connections. These emotional connections are what makes a product unique. During this design time we also involve business stakeholders in collaborative ideas brainstorms. Over the decades, we’ve used this framework to design hundreds of products that enrich customers’ lives and propel companies forward. This design process also enhances market and business outcomes of products we develop. 

Product Formative Usability Testing for Product Development
Usability testing is a method used to evaluate how easy the design is to use. The tests take place with real users to measure how ‘usable’ or ‘intuitive’ a design is and how easy it is for users to reach their goals. Formative testing puts a product in users’ hands at the prototype stage. With this testing, we can determine which technology and design specifications need to be implemented or adjusted. Asking users to test the devices according to exact instructions can also reveal problems that might not otherwise appear. We also conduct summative testing, which validates the human factors testing. This testing occurs after production and includes the training and labeling of the final product. 

Product Engineering for Product Development

Even if a client is hiring a development firm to produce only a proof-of-concept prototype, technical due diligence early on is vital in creating a sound foundation on which to build the product. A client may perhaps only be looking for an industrial design concept for their idea – the external form factor, with color, materials, and finishes – and not a fully engineered product. However, in some cases the industrial design concepts have not been subjected to at least a foundational level of engineering and design for manufacture.

In that case, the concepts usually have to undergo considerable rework late on. With both disciplines under the same roof at RKS, working hand-in-hand, this becomes a seamlessly integrated aspect of early design concept development and review. When engineering is outsourced and not integrated, clients will encounter development delays, additional costs to remedy miscalculation at the design stage and less rich and meaningful innovation.

Flowater sketches showing design
Material selection for Product Development

Successful design and manufacturing employ an understanding of materials science and engineering. Materials science is the relationship between a material’s composition, microstructure, properties, and manufacturing effects on a material’s microstructure. Materials engineering is the task of applying materials science knowledge to the creation of products and manufacturing designs. In many cases, up to 70% of the cost to make a product might be its materials. Therefore, whether a product meets all its performance, reliability, and cost requirements depends on whether a team selects the appropriate materials and implements them correctly. 

Materials Sourcing for Product Development

Using our established relationships, we often have unique access to materials and materials supply for product development. In addition to being strategic partners, our suppliers can also often be sources of innovative ideas for future products. For products requiring manufacturing, sourcing is one of the essential services we offer. Through close relationships, our suppliers have the freedom to support innovation efforts that can result in a competitive advantage for both our clients and the supplier. More often than not, our diverse set of relationships allows us to compare costs and have a backup option if one of our suppliers cannot perform. We provide management of the entire sourcing process. 

Product Manufacturing for Product Development

We’ve developed relationships with manufacturers all over the world. Our decades of experience have also allowed us to source and vet new partners when necessary reliably. Our sourcing and vetting management services include finding the right partner and managing the production of the final product. While manufacturing is the last stage, decisions made early on can make manufacturing the product cheaper and more efficient. Our team engages our manufacturing partners throughout the process to ensure the early decisions are consistent with manufacturing needs.

Product Development Case Study Spotlight
Kor One

Personal hydration with style to eliminate the use of disposable bottles and ensure a brighter future.

Juvederm

Ergonomic syringe development to enable doctors to perform procedures to enhance beauty and maintain youth. 

FloWater

A more premium, refreshing, and sustainable alternative to disposable water bottles.

Experience more of our Product Development Work.
Product Development Case Study Spotlight
Kor One

Personal hydration with style to eliminate the use of disposable bottles and ensure a brighter future.

Juvederm

Ergonomic syringe development to enable doctors to perform procedures to enhance beauty and maintain youth. 

FloWater

A more premium, refreshing, and sustainable alternative to disposable water bottles.

Experience more of our Product Development Work.