Your company might be considering developing a new product, or a significant product improvement. At this stage, you might have some early concept designs and an outline idea of what technical capabilities and manufacturing methods would be needed to develop, validate and manufacture that new product.
These new capabilities and methods would probably represent a huge investment, so before launching into an expensive Research and Development programme, it is worthwhile to stop and take stock of the technical options and the potential new product value in the market place.
Prior art mapping should consider all possible publicly available information: this includes patents, scientific journal papers, press releases, industry-sector regulations, and many more types of publication. Careful reading of such information can determine:
A thorough study of this sort could take a substantial period of time, and it might be time that you want your in-house specialists to be spending on the development of the product, and not on this essential, but background activity.
This type of work is easily parcelled up as an external work-package, to be managed on a subcontract basis.