5 years ago Bram started working at Verhaert Consulting as a product designer. Since then he has worked for many companies. Currently, he is working at Dematic.
What is it like to work at Verhaert Consulting?
What’s the latest challenge you’ve faced working as a consultant?
“Many assignments evolve into so much more than just technical support. Just like my colleagues, I have a constructive view on developments and processes. I like to analyze this along the way. For example, I noticed that a client was looking for a smooth R&D system. Their past experiences were almost all custom builds without a standard range or assortment, and they came across some stumbling blocks. In particular, they stumbled over previously made decisions that were quickly forgotten in rapid iterative product development, yet are important in R&D. Relatively little was documented, while a large part of the power lies in that research. It was very design-oriented but lacked a cohesive approach and decisions. Continuing on previous insights proved a challenge, and sharing all this became a frustrating issue.
I myself had experience with it, because I learned a lot from previous assignments and from other colleagues. Not much later I was able to suggest some areas for improvement. The solutions I proposed certainly made the client curious but not convinced. Fortunately, that didn’t last long; the benefits were quickly apparent. For example, I diligently searched together with the colleagues for a way to document design processes, completely according to their wishes. We thought of a ‘custom build’ for them. And that is still growing. Even after so many months, plus points are still emerging for the customer. My colleagues at that company are still diligent about further improving and optimizing it. It’s a catalyst that has set a lot in motion, it makes everyone flexible. It’s just so cool to transfer our innovative mindset from Verhaert Consulting to others, only then does it really come to life.”
Are there other aspects important to gather product insights?
“R&D, of course, is about so much more than documenting it. Describing the goal and the use case is step one, we discover where that innovative power is going to be just from the new product. We can already easily communicate this to stakeholders. Perhaps even more important is the approach. I have often seen decisions being taken as we go along, usually on gut feeling. It is a pity that later in the process it becomes clear that it is not the best solution. Deadlines then cause decisions to be made hastily.
Spending time in advance to save time afterwards feels very contradictory. Still, I stand by our strong design methodology, something I also see with my fellow consultants. Generating concepts and making trade-offs is our second nature, so to speak. It creates much better expectations towards the end result and can serve as a strong foundation for other developments. However, it doesn’t have to stop there. Prototyping is research, but not a final product. It certainly pays to test several concepts, an additional cost that usually pays for itself. Working out concepts physically not only gives more insights to designers but also to stakeholders. Well-considered decisions, less risks, transparent expectations, iterative processes, … It is easy to mention many benefits here.”
In conclusion, what is it like to work as a consultant?
“Being a consultant makes me stronger, it is a process in which I never stand still. We learn from many clients, many industries and work environments. This makes us stronger and increases our knowledge. We strongly stand behind our design methodology, and are also supported here with many trainings. This combination is therefore our unique selling point. Our service not only has a strong basis, but also improves every day. That variation, that continuous movement, that is how it feels to be a consultant.”