A data sheet, sometimes called a spec sheet, is a document that’s either printed or delivered electronically that provides details about a product, or service. Data sheets include information that can help R&D Engineers make decisions about which adjustments should be made to fit the needs of their customers, or by providing technical specifications about the product so that cross-functional departments can ensure that product adjustments are feasible. Throughout the entire development process, R&D Engineers continually refer to data sheets, to understand which specs are being adjusted, and where improvements can be made. They’re essential for understanding costs, performance expectations, proper use and intent of products, and other technical data.
Typically, data sheets can be found on manufacturers and retailer’s websites where customers can find specifics about a product. Details like power requirements, circuitry specifications, and available product options can be found easily with the help of a technical data sheets, and their availability has been come crucial to success in customer centric markets.
As a recent business school graduate, I didn’t understand how important technical data sheets were until my most recent interaction with a 3D printing company. As an entrepreneur or even as a new product engineer, it’s become increasingly important to be fluent in tools that are essential in introducing new products or developing existing products through prototype stages and beyond. Developers of new products take on a highly customer centric approach to gather feedback and made adjustments to products. Product data sheets are one specific tool that startups and large corporations incorporate in their processes to guide products from an idea to reality.
Data sheets sound like serious business, but in my experience, they don’t have to be. For example, my first introduction to data sheets was both hilarious and eye-opening (in a business sense). About a year ago, I partnered with a colleague of mine to develop a device that could attract and trap mosquitoes in order to prevent the spread of the Zika Virus in humid areas around the United States. Florida, South Texas, and Louisiana were the areas we targeted as markets that could benefit from such as device. We figured that our first prototype could be printed easily, and we could get an idea about whether or not our design was capable of living up to our theoretical expectations. Big issue, simple solution – we were that oft-touted concept: a man with a plan!
After about a week of searching for 3D printers online, we decided on a company who could refer to a data sheet we’d compiled and print a prototype that could be assembled by the end user. A few days later, a small package arrived at our doorstep and to our surprise, our prototype was a 1/10th the actual size we intended to print. There had been an error with the data sheet that was put together by our product development engineer, and at that moment, our inexperience with data sheets was hilariously exposed by a mosquito trap that could hold five, maybe ten mosquitos MAX.
Recently, I was introduced to TDSmaker, a cloud based data sheet provider that combines both the design and data side into one convenient platform. They provide plenty of data sheet templates to choose from, or they give you the option to design your own from scratch. This saves both time and money, especially for R&D Directors who are looking to cut back on expenses. Both startups and large companies could find value in TDSmaker.com, because whether you’re on a startup budget or looking to find new ways to make data sheets for thousands or products, TDS Maker gives you the power to design and deliver high quality data sheets, all on the cloud. I’d encourage new R&D Engineers, Product Development Specialists, and Product Designers to try and get more familiar with data sheets and spec sheets because they’re a great way to make sure customers understand what you’re offering as a solution to their needs. Think about it, if a data sheet helps you pitch an idea to a new investor more clearly, it increases the chances that they’ll fund your venture. Likewise, if you’re a new R&E professional in a company, who can design high quality, eye catching data sheets with the help of an all in one service, your chances of climbing up the ranks increases! So, whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new entrepreneur, there’s great value in Data sheets that shouldn’t be ignored.
If companies offer a variety of products and services, it’s also important to align the company’s brand across all data sheets for each item or service. For example, if a computer chip manufacturer produces 20 different kinds of chips, a data sheet for each chip should be generated. It’s crazy to think about how many individual data sheets large companies like Maytag or DJI have to put together for their products, which often take anywhere from 8-16 hours to best design, input information and then get approval!
Generally, three key people are involved with the design and eventual publishing of data sheets: The Graphic Designer, The R&D Engineer or Director and a Marketing or Sales Manager. Communication between all three people (or more) can be tough to organize, and can often cost a company a lot of time and money to get done. It’d be great if an R&D Director had the skills of a Graphic Design(er), or a New Product Engineer who could design and input data into a data sheet to save time and money, but unfortunately that’s often not the case. Luckily, there are other options!
As any other entrepreneur or R&D professional can attest to, being innovative is key to long-term success. But, innovation without some sense of clarity isn’t the best way to go about developing new products. In a nutshell, data sheets are tools to make sure those interested in your product or service, are clear about what that product does, or what kind of service is being offered. It’s a tool that R&D Engineers and Product Development specialists rely on to inform other departments, and more importantly, to inform customers about their products in absolutely any industry. If we would have used TDSmaker’s online tool for creating data sheets, I think we could have had a better experience ordering that first prototype of our mosquito trap, especially because they keep brand-aligned templates save to your profile. Lesson Learned!
I’d encourage new R&D Engineers, Product Development Specialists, and Product Designers to try and get more familiar with data sheets and spec sheets because they’re a great way to make sure customers understand what you’re offering as a solution to their needs. Think about it, if a data sheet helps you pitch an idea to a new investor more clearly, it increases the chances that they’ll fund your venture. Likewise, if you’re a new R&E professional in a company, who can design high quality, eye catching data sheets with the help of an all in one service, your chances of climbing up the ranks increases! So, whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new entrepreneur, there’s great value in Data sheets that shouldn’t be ignored.