Product and business solutions selection, design, engineering, and manufacturing are the backbone of any business. As the competition heats up and costs rise, product development should play a major role in your success. The right product or business solution can improve sales, efficiency, lead to a better position in the market, and even save millions of dollars. But often, we see companies face big challenges with their product and solutions development as they experience difficulties in development.
Procept Pty Ltd., a leading consulting and technology solutions provider, is currently tackling this issue with the help of their expert team equipped with cutting-edge technology, working with clients to shape the future through technology. Aaron Maher, CEO of Procept Pty Ltd., was with the CEOViews team to share his experience about taking Procept to where it is today.
THE STORY BEHIND PROCEPT
Aaron and close friend and co-founder of Procept, Adrian Crouch, worked at Ericsson in the early 2000s. Aaron was working in the engineering division, rolling out Australia’s first 3G network, and Adrian worked with the latest technologies in the marketing and technology division. They were both interested in how technology, particularly wireless technologies, could be used in different applications to solve unique problems. How it can be adapted to grow new types of businesses, generate new revenue streams, and, most importantly, how technology can help improve people’s lives.
Their goal from the outset was to develop a technology solutions company that would help businesses develop world-class technology solutions that they could sell globally. Custom technology and product development services that solve particular business and market needs are not widely available. They saw a large gap in the market that needed to be filled, and they have been proudly involved in over 150 technology-based products and solutions for clients. Their main goal is to work closely with clients to find out what business or market problem they are trying to solve with technology and then make it a profitable market reality.
MANAGING THE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
Procept’s optimum product development process, that has produced the best success for their clients starts with defining a truly clear vision of exactly what purpose the product is being developed to serve.
They start by identifying the ultimate market and business goals, then formulate a solid business plan with clear targets that allow for the flexibility required to deliver success. They work closely with the client to understand what problem the product is trying to solve, and exactly how the end user will use it. Extensive market research is then undertaken to get a deep understanding of the end-user, so they have a good foundation before starting development.
Once the goals and plans are agreed upon, they go through a specialized internal process that they’ve developed over a 15-year period, which accelerates product development, reduces risk, and is the most effective way to develop new cutting-edge products and solutions.
Procept’s 5-step process is really simple in nature:
Research and investigation: This includes looking into the product’s technology needs, undertaking market research & feasibility studies on some of the product’s most important features.
Proof of concept: Testing the functionality and technological viability of key product features. This allows their engineers and designers to prove that it is possible to achieve the client’s specific goals and required performance levels, and that the product resonates with its target audience.
Design for manufacture: Also known as the “Pilot” stage. Procept’s project managers align all aspects of development, including system design, system architecture, planning, software development, implementation, and testing. A “soft launch” is then undertaken to get the product into real-world hands and scenarios, where the most valuable product learnings are gathered.
Release and reﬁnement: They take all the learnings from the pilot stage and “soft launch.” The engineering team then performs a final set of refinements to the product based on real-world feedback. Then, and only then, can a launch-ready product be delivered to the client.
Manufacturing and Support: They either manufacture on the client’s behalf or transfer their product to a contract manufacturer. It does not end there, though. Product development does not end at launch. They also provide ongoing maintenance and support throughout the entire product lifecycle.
DOMINATING THE MARKET THROUGH POST-DEVELOPMENT
Once products come out of the development stage and enter the market, they need to capture their target audience’s attention to dominate the market. Answering the question of how their clients’ solutions get to maintain that dominance, Aaron said, “All successful companies know that developing products that disrupt markets and then maintain market dominance really comes down to listening to your clients.”
“It is a well-advised investment to understand your clients full needs. What are their desires? What keeps them up at night? What features would they like but not need? What are their lifestyles like? Researching and developing a full persona around the end users of the product, and then continuing to listen to them throughout the product’s lifecycle is key to sustained product success. A solid rule of thumb is to ensure 80% of the end-users needs and wants will be met by your product. There is no such thing as perfection or 100% for every single person out there. If you achieve the 80% threshold, they will, at the unconscious level, go “Yep, that’s a great product.” “I will buy that!” 80% elicits an emotion that greatly strengthens their positive purchase decision”.
MEETING THE CLIENT’S EXPECTATIONS
It has always been a prime motivation for technology companies to keep their clients happy and drive their success with their work. While it sounds easy, it can be very difficult in reality. To ensure that clients remain happy, Procept has an open and transparent culture. Their focus is always on being the trusted adviser to the clients. This means that they provide unfiltered counseling, timely and accurate information, and critical data presented in a format clients can utilize to make informed decisions.
Procept partners with clients, involving and educating them in all key aspects of the development process. Their approach is to act as an extension of the client’s team. Their management team, advisory team, and project management teams work directly with clients to ensure that all parties are aligned and on the same page when it comes to what success looks like, and exactly how they’re going to achieve it.
Procept provides industry-leading end-to-end turnkey technology and product development solutions, taking the client’s product or business vision from concept to market reality. Their core capabilities include bespoke/customized technology solutions, electronic engineering & design, IoT & cloud solutions, software development, advisory services, project management, product development, manufacturing solutions, and managed services. Clients can engage with them to manage the entire process and/or complete any single required aspect of development. They can augment their internal teams with support or offer full services, so they do not need to build or source these capabilities internally. This customized approach to each client’s specific needs has allowed clients to focus on their key areas of expertise, such as business strategy, sales, and marketing, and simply outsource product development and innovation to Procept.
Procept has a great management team and highly skilled “experts in their field” staff, including engineers, designers, developers, and project managers. They work closely with Procept has a great management team and highly skilled “experts in their field” including engineers, designers, developers, and project managers.
employees, holding fortnightly one-on-one meetings at all levels of the company and invest heavily in staff capabilities, education, and encouraging growth in the way they think about or approach the things they do. It is fundamental to their culture to work with teams very closely to help them succeed in life and in their workplace.
Adding more to it, Aaron said, “Our senior management team represents each area of the business, with their core focus being on supporting and achieving our three pillars: adding value to our clients, adding value to our people, and adding value to our community. We measure and monitor trends within the business to ensure that we’re meeting our team’s and our client’s targets and goals. This is done through easy-to-interpret visual dashboards, ensuring that we have excellent and consistent communication throughout the business. It is very important for us to give our people (and clients) visibility because if you’re unable to provide visibility, they cannot correct their course and achieve their goals. We have a very open and caring culture to allow our team to express their opinions and thoughts on the best way to do things honestly and inclusively.”
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES
Each product development project is met with its unique set of challenges. Product development is, in essence, solving a real-world problem through the use of technology. The problems they are solving are unique and require the team to think outside the box, so they invest a lot of time training people to expand their capabilities and problem-solving techniques.
Many of the more common challenges for all businesses these days revolve around data. “Which sensor to use to gather the required data and in what environmental conditions?” “Can we send data over large distances from point A to point B?” “Are we able to extract the value out of that big data that the end user can utilize?” “How do we keep our data secure?” Project management, systems engineering, electronics engineering, embedded software, and data & AI teams, with their specific areas of expertise and experience, all working in unison are instrumental to seeing and solving problems from all angles.
Over Procept’s 15-year history, they have worked extensively across many industries. They are particularly passionate about MedTech and healthcare technologies, developing medical devices to improve people’s lives. They’ve done a lot of work in the resources sector, developing inertial platforms, downhole tools, and imaging systems for mineral core logging. They have also been involved in a number of defense projects, developing world-class innovative data, logging, and inertial platforms for aerospace applications.
A TIP FOR THE LEADERS
Aaron has over 20 years of experience in the technology domain and has helped multiple businesses scale their operations. His suggestion for other leaders trying to build products for the future is “One of the key mindsets going into developing your product centres around being agile, allowing for the ability to make changes and adapt to new information when it becomes available.”
Their most successful clients are open to change based on new information because they know it will achieve the best result. There seems to be a lot of misinformation about “agile” in the marketplace. Many believe that agile means no guidelines and that changes are made on a whim. But for Procept, that’s not the case. Agile for them is about being agile in their approach and being able to make clear, decisive decisions at specific points in time based on new critical information. Projects can be significantly derailed if those involved are steadfast on certain requirements without the flexibility to change and adapt the product specifications based on new learnings.
TRENDS FOR THE NEXT DECADE
There is one global technology trend that Aaron sees as having a major impact across all industries. This is the digitization of information and the use of analytics to extract more value from data, making it available and usable in real-time to the end user. Over the past five years, this has become the one unifying technology solution that essentially 80% of Procept’s projects now require, across all industries, whereas 15 years ago, it was non-existent. The countless solutions and permeations of this technology are unified under the terminology of “IoT.” It enables people and businesses to make quicker and more informed decisions.
IoT is an undeniable global trend that is projected to be worth trillions of dollars in the coming years across most key industries. Procept is investing heavily in its capabilities across multiple platforms so it can continue to assist its clients, leverage the benefits of IoT technology and win market share. They have seen that utilizing the many benefits of IoT gives clients a critical edge in their field, enabling them to disrupt markets and become more and more dominant in their markets by having access to real-time data.
BEING THE BEST
Considering the quality of services it is delivering, Procept was named one of the “Best Companies of the Year 2022.” Speaking about what made this feat possible, Aaron said, “For me, being the best encompasses all areas of business. It’s not just one factor that makes you the best. We have seen time and time again that one of the most important aspects of success is having very clear, concise, and measurable goals. Goals that can be easily communicated, allowing everyone on your team to clearly see the company vision and a well-signposted path that shows you how to get there. Clients, employees, and the wider community are the three fundamental pillars of our business. We strive to be the best at everything we do through these three pillars”.
They view the business as one big ecosystem, an ecosystem with a shared vision, a set of goals, and a group of very talented people that are working together to achieve their specific set of shared outcomes. One of the hallmarks of success is open and clear communication with both clients and employees, working with them to understand their aspirations and goals. To understand what success looks like for them. How will they know when they get there? And, most importantly, what needs to be in place to achieve their goals? They then work with them, implementing an internally developed and systemized approach to plan a strategy with clear, concise, and thoughtfully tailored steps leading them to their goal. It’s seemingly so simple that clients are often surprised with how successfully it works in getting them to their desired outcomes.
Procept has three major pillars within the company that has been fundamental to their success.
Value: Providing genuine and measurable value to clients in everything they do.
Employee First: Their foundation is an employee-first environment that is focused on well-being, work-life balance flexibility, personal and professional growth, and generating a learning culture of continuously sharing knowledge focused on improving individual and team expertise and capabilities.
Community: To provide value back to the community through various programs and charities they support, and to invest in technology-based start-up and post-grad programs and tech community events.
Through these three pillars, they strive to do their absolute best in everything they do. Adding more to it, Aaron said, “I’m happy to say we have been very successful at getting our clients to their end goal for the last 15 years and have loved helping them launch world-class technology solutions that disrupt markets and help them thrive in their industry.”
You can contact the team at Procept directly by visiting