Types of Product Design Reviews

What is a review?

  • To look at or examine (something) carefully especially before making a decision or judgment.
  • An act of carefully looking at or examining the quality or condition of something
  • A report that gives someone’s opinion about the quality of a book, performance, product, etc.

More meanings can be found at Merriam-Webster.

All the products have to undergo the three main phases below:

Phase 1: Product Development Phase

The first phase happens within the company that designs and manufactures the product. The design reviews are normally performed in-house by project team members, stakeholders and may include others such as production leaders.

The design reviews may include several sub-phases such as preliminary (PDR), critical (CDR), and final (FDR) design reviews. During the review, members will assess if the prototype design is acceptable and has met the design intent and target specifications.

After the product design is final, and mass production begins, the company will produce marketing material to attract buyers to purchase their product.

Phase 2: Sourcing Phase

In this phase, potential customers, product reviewers, or purchasing specialists will source products to meet their needs. The process normally involves identifying at least 3 competing products that are potential candidates for in-depth review. The design review will compare the design specifications and prices to determine the most cost-effective option. If the order is large, the reviewer may acquire one or more samples to try out before deciding which one to order.

Phase 3: Design Reviews by end-user.

After buying and using the products, the buyer may provide feedback on the usage which may be related to the function, durability, reliability, etc. All of this feedback ultimately affects the design, which will then be feedback to Phase 1 for the next product development phase.

Hopefully, the issues raised in the previous model will be resolved in Phase 1 of the new model.

Below is a summary of the different design reviews in the three phases of the product life cycle.

Phase Who Input
Process Output
Phase 1:
Product Development
Project Team.
Prototype Team.
Production Team.
Stake Holders
Customer inputs.

Market data.
Target specs.

Product design.
Prototype production and testing.
Design Reviews:
– Preliminary
– Critical
– Final
Final approved design for mass production.
Phase 2:
Sales Phase
External Purchaser.
Product reviewer.

End User.
  • Tech specs.
  • Other user’s feedback (from Phase 3)
  • Product samples (if available)
Design reviews to compare against
– Desired Specs
– Alternatives
Decision to buy
Phase 3:
Feedback Phase
Confirmed buyer Real user experience – Forum feedback
– Store feedback
– Social media feedback

The above covers the Type of Design Reviews in the context of the generic product life cycle.

Below are internal notes for sharing only.

Product Development Projects

Product development projects began with a concept idea of the new product, which may include design sketches, CAD drawings, and a rough list of desired specifications.

This is followed by feasibility studies to ascertain if the target specs are achievable based on current resources and technology, or require additional cost, effort, and time to develop new capabilities. The output of this stage will include the project scope, schedule, and budget.

Design reviews are the key milestones in a product development project. It involves formal meetings, and acceptance tests conducted to verify that the prototype(s) in various development phases have each met the target design specifications.

As the prototypes may need to undergo several design changes and rework before being accepted, the design review can be broken up into three key phases to reduce project risks such as loss of time, resources, or financial losses.

The following are the phases and types of design reviews in product development.

During Product Development

Product design reviews can only be conducted by the project team members.

1. Preliminary Design Reviews (PDR)

    • Components prototype
    • Mockup of a full or partial assembly

If the prototypes and components are rejected or need a rework, there may be a need to redo the PDR or have a PDR II.

2. Critical Design Reviews (CDR)

    • The pre-final or beta version of the final product shall undergo an acceptance test to verify all critical design specs against the target specs.
    • There should be very few minor changes required to finalize the product.

3. Final Design Reviews (FDR)

    • If required, a final design review is conducted to verify any corrective actions made during the CDR.
    • After the FDR is completed, the product is ready for serial production and rollout or released.

After Product Rollout

Post Implementation Design Reviews

    • The project team should conduct frequent PIDR reviews after the completion of the project. During the reviews, the project team shall discuss the issues raised from the following areas:
      • Warranty claim
      • Customer support team
      • Problems raised by user reviews and feedback from websites, online stores and blogs.
    • Identify each of the problems raised.
    • Identify the cause and effect of the problem via FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis)
      • Are they design issues? If yes, the designers will need to review the remedy actions.
      • Are they quality issues? If yes, the manufacturing dept. will need to review their IPQC process.
      • Are the effects critical, or safety-related? If yes, there could be a need to recall the affected batches or all the products.

The above are brief examples of types of design reviews at each project phase.

In addition, we believe that everyone is performing design reviews every time they are buying a product.

For example, most users will not just pick a car, pay and drive. They perform their own “design review” of the cars before they “proceed” to the next phase.

They will look at the car’s exterior and interior design, check the specifications, and perform a test drive (acceptance test) to decide whether it meets their fickle-minded, ever-shifting requirements hidden deep inside their head. This is also a type of “design review” and is also affected by emotions and value.


The project is about scope, schedule, and budget, which are all interrelated. For example, an increase in scope may cause a delay in schedule and an increase in budget. In another example, if the budget is cut down, the scope may be reduced but the duration of the project may go either way.

The most common factors affecting buying decisions are function, value, and emotions. The dominant factor will depend on whether the buyer is the user himself or for someone else.

Back to top button
error: Alert: Add url