When deciding to get an invention designed and manufactured, you will most likely need to liaise with a number of suppliers or contractors who will help you as you progress through the stages of the idea to the final product ready for market. This collaboration is vital to the process as it offers the opportunity to gain valuable industry insight to the benefit of your invention. With this collaboration and involvement also comes the need to effectively maintain control of your project. To do this, meet with all of your suppliers to have a clear understanding of their lead-times (the time to complete) and their resources (how many people will be involved in the project). Organizing this information is key as you must know all of the parts at work to bring your product to completion.
As more and more individuals get involved, you may find that, most of the time, you feel helpless as your suppliers go about their normal routine to bring your project to life. What is normal in their process may often seem foreign to you. Therefore, to ease your worry and maintain control, stay in constant contact with all of your suppliers to ensure that you understand every stage they are working through and if they are on target. If your supplier is not on target (or behind), then you need to understand why. What problems are they having and can these issues be fixed? Do not be afraid to ask questions because this is your invention and your budget. Based on the responses you receive, you will then need to inform the next supplier if any delays are expected.
Essentially, as an inventor, you also become a project manager as you navigate the process that will transform your idea into the actual product. During this process, you will quickly learn that managing the project and your suppliers is a delicate balancing act. Organization is key because, although you may not fully understand the entire process, you do need to have an idea of what is occurring and why, as well as how long it will take, the associated costs and any potential delays. Never manage a project, especially not your own invention, blind.
As you begin to better manage the process, please be aware that some companies designate specific times to complete your work. Therefore, if your dates change, you need to see if your slots can change as well or if you have to wait for the supplier to finish other jobs first.
I have personally project managed hundreds of jobs ranging from small products to designing 40 ton machines for the mining industry. Every job is completely different. The only similarities that exist is the fact that both require materials and resources. To control your project involves taking these two factors an assigning them to your suppliers.
The best advice I can give you is to start working on or further developing your project management skills. Consider brushing up on your management skills to ensure that you can control your project with greater ease and success.