When deciding on requirements during the new product development process, it is important to differentiate between objectives and constraints. Objectives are the goals or targets that a product is intended to achieve, while constraints are the limitations or boundaries that must be considered when developing the product. Understanding the difference between objectives and constraints can help ensure that the product meets the needs of the intended users and is feasible to develop and produce.
Objectives can be thought of as the “what” of the product. They are the desired outcomes or functions that the product is intended to fulfill. For example, an objective might be to create a product that is faster, more efficient, or easier to use than existing products in the market. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Constraints, on the other hand, are the “how” of the product. They are the limitations or boundaries that must be taken into consideration when developing the product. Constraints can be internal, such as budget or resources, or external, such as regulations or market conditions. It is important to identify and understand constraints early in the product development process, as they can significantly impact the scope and direction of the project.
When deciding on requirements during the new product development process, it is important to strike a balance between objectives and constraints. On the one hand, it is important to set ambitious goals and push the boundaries of what is possible. On the other hand, it is important to be realistic and consider the limitations and constraints that will impact the project. By finding this balance, it is possible to create a product that is both innovative and feasible.
EXAMPLE: Screw Holes
- Constraint: An 3 mm drill shall be used to make a hole.
- Constraint: There shall be an 3 mm hole.
- Constraint: A M3 pan-head machine screw shall be used.
- Objective: The PCB shall be secured to the enclosure with screws.
- Constaint: The Polycase LP-21F enclosure shall be used.
In the above example, we were given the constraint that there needs to be a 3mm drill used to make holes. We worked the constraint backwards to uncover that we didn’t need to be told what drill size to use, but instead it would be better and more effective to just tell us what case we should use and then let the enclosure dictate what screws and holes are needed.
This simple change reduces the complexity of the project significantly.
- Objective: There shall be a way to connect to something else.
- Objective: There shall be a secured waterproof connector.
- Constraint: There shall be a M8 connector with the following pinout.
|1||Power Out (+)||2||Data In|
In the above example, we started with the objective of being able to connect to another device. The vagueness of this requirement doesn’t allow for an effective design. Instead, we worked our way to what will be connected to our new device and what pinout does our device need to meet your requirements.
Without the pinout listed during the requirements phase, we couldn’t design a product suitable for the final needs of the client.
Sometimes leaving an objective vague and making a constraint overly detailed is ideal for a successful design process. It is key to know what could be left as an objective and what needs to be a constraint.