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Beginning the Idea-to-Cash Journey

Nothing that’s made it to market got there by chance — particularly the work of specialty manufacturers. Every part, piece of equipment, and machine available for sale began as just an idea. Bringing it to life was likely a long and expensive process.

The idea-to-cash journey is complex and fraught with challenges, but technology has evolved in step with market demands. In this three-part series, we’ll explore the roadmap, as well as the tools that can make your processes more efficient, effective, and profitable.

The First Steps of the Idea-to-Cash Journey

The idea-to-cash journey begins with exploring ideas and shaping them into physical products. This part of the process is broken into ideation and design:

Product Ideation

In this phase, engineers, designers, researchers, and other stakeholders work to answer specific questions. Product ideation can involve hundreds of variables, but the most pressing often include:
Product ideation involves brainstorming, interviewing customers, researching competitors, analyzing the market, and throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks. Successful ideation is as much an artform as it is a science, requiring a careful balance of creativity and financial responsibility.

Product Design

During the product design phase, engineers and designers translate ideas into concepts, complete with renderings and an understanding of necessary materials for manufacturing. As engineers work out exactly how specialty equipment will function, or machinery will operate, they have to juggle aesthetics, budgetary limitations, and material availability, not to mention the personal tastes and preferences of top-level stakeholders. The product development team may have to go back to ideation if a concept turns out to be too expensive or complex to mass-produce at the necessary quality. Throughout this process, designers must draft an endless number of product renderings and schematics.

Tools for the Journey

With so much data to manage, and so many designs to execute, specialty manufacturers often struggle to complete these first stages of the idea-to-cash journey in a timely or cost-effective manner. These two software solutions can help:

Product Lifecycle Management

Product lifecycle management (PLM) platforms serve as a central dashboard and database for managing and optimizing every stage of a product’s lifespan, from product conception all the way to retirement. A PLM is the source of truth for assets, product data, project status, and more. During the product ideation phase, users can easily access research and other documents, upload their ideas, leave feedback, and collaborate with other stakeholders across departments. PLM can even store every draft of the renderings created in computer-aided design (CAD).

Design and Visual Tools

Design and product visualization requires a number of solutions working together. Computer-aided design (CAD) software replaces the hard work of hand-drawn drafting with ultra-fast digital product renderings. After drafting, CAD makes it easy to share visuals with stakeholders and edit to incorporate their feedback. In fact, many CAD solutions even integrate with industry-standard parts catalogs with digital replicas of pipes, valves, gears, and other mechanical parts needed to make products. Users can assemble “working” products digitally, so engineers with no artistic skills can build beautiful (and workable) renderings. Product dimensions can be manipulated almost instantaneously for ultra-fast turnaround times between drafts.

Configurators help engineers automate the complex process of designing and managing all of the variations of their customizable products. The technology can automatically perform impact analyses on various drafts, modules, and product configurations, and flag parts and components that make a design nonviable. Engineers can then redraft designs to optimize compatibility.

Engineering simulation software allows engineers to test how products will perform in real-world conditions without the need to build physical prototypes. This enables even more refinement of designs before ever beginning physical production, so products have longer life and greater integrity in the market. Any issues can be addressed in CAD and then re-tested.

With these tools in your arsenal, you can easily tackle the first steps of taking your idea to cash, allowing your team to unleash their full creativity with less time and effort. Revalize offers a complete suite of software solutions to help you throughout the journey. Schedule a demo with one of our experts to learn more. Or, read on for Part 2 of our guide to the idea-to-cash journey.

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