6 Key Steps in Product Development Process
The aim is to convert an idea into a reality – a commercially ready product.
Some companies have taken measures to reduce the product development process to shorter stages, but this can be a counterproductive act that will harm the overall profitability of the project.
What is Product Development?
Product development is the process of creating something from nothing and releasing it to the market. From defining the product concept to developing the marketing strategy prior to launching.
Product development is the stage of trial and error. You will need to come up with multiple concepts before you can finally come up with a marketable product
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What to Consider Before Starting the Product Development Process?
Product development is about answering problems. Knowing the answer to those problems will help you develop a swift product development process.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to think through several issues before jumping into the commercialization of your product.
Remember: not all products are good. While marketing and advertising a product can be key to your success, if the product itself is lousy, then you’re just wasting your advertising funds.
During your product development process, your idea will be tested by the marketing team to see if it will sell and if it is worth the company’s investment.
Sometimes, it’s better to look for existing ideas that have been around for a while than to create something new.
There are key people that you need to have if you want your process to go as smooth and successful as you want it to be.
These people are beneficial in the product development process. The product manager, product developers, and marketing team are your internal committee that will brainstorm ideas and put them to the test. The target customers will help in the validation of the product before finally launching it to the public.
Product Management vs. Product Development
Product management is the work of coordinating all the moving parts necessary to get a new product to market. It’s the skill of managing the entire production process, from project inception through to the product’s end-of-life.
Product managers are expected to lay out the plans needed for the process. They also need to be a good team player and leader that will create a harmonious relationship with the product developers or product engineers in order to succeed.
On the other hand, product development is the work of building the product. It’s the process of designing, developing, and testing the product until it is ready to be released to the market.
Product developers will work with the product managers in the concept and technical aspects of the product itself. They need to be flexible in altering the product to be attractive and marketable.
Both of these teams will work together to ensure that all barriers are accounted for.
6 Essential Steps in the Product Development Process
The product development process is delicate, you’d need to go through an eye of the needle before you can ultimately launch it to the public.
Step 1: Product Ideation or Concept
A product concept is a logical combination of functions and solutions. In this step, you need to define the problems that you want to solve.
Think of your product concept as your blueprint. It should describe the features of the product, how the product works, and who the product is for.
But most importantly, focus on what the customer needs.
Products rarely come out of the blue – they arise out of the needs of people. If you’re trying to come up with a new product idea, the key is to pay attention to the world around you, and how you can disrupt the market using your product.
For instance, Spotify was created as a means to create a better way to find and share new music. Digital technology is greatly evolving, and the founders of Spotify found a way to change how music is distributed by offering a digital platform.
Your product concept should be well-defined and concisely presented. This first step will be the foundation of what you want your product to be and this is the part where the following product development steps will rely on.
Step 2. Concept Screening and Development
After a few brainstorming stages, you probably came up with a few product ideas that need to be screened. Check the ones that have the highest potential for success and pull out the lower ones.
To make the process easier, come up with a SWOT Analysis. As an example, here’s what your analysis will include:
This step will help you analyze the strong ideas from the weak. Overall, your goal is to have a product that people will buy.
Step 3: Product Validation and Testing
How do you know if your product is worth pursuing?
Product validation is the step of ensuring that you have a product that people will actually pay for. This step is critical for determining if the business idea is viable or not.
These are some ways to can test the waters and see if there is a demand for your product. Talk to real people and carefully analyze what they think about your product.
This process will help you iron out any missing factor and develop it further so you can be sure that your product is ready.
Drew Houston, the founder of Dropbox, wanted feedback from their product to understand what their market really needs. Then, he developed a video tutorial that’s presented to a small online community which then drove thousands of users to their website.
The product validation step will be the deciding factor of whether you want to continue with your concept or go back to step one.
Step 4: Strategy Development/Planning
This step is about creating a way to reach your customers wisely. The product development strategy will involve two key things: marketing strategy and product pricing.
The marketing strategy will map out the challenges and roadblocks that you need to overcome for you to get brand awareness. The marketing team will lay out channels, budgets, possible markets, and competitive analysis that will also play a huge role in your product pricing.
Price is a key factor in the customer’s decision to buy and will also be a crucial element in marketing and advertising.
A combination of these two strategies will help you plan out the distribution of your product as well as the promotion tactics you can integrate. Your strategies should allow for some flexibility to conform to the changing markets.
Step 5. Product Development
Product development is the process of turning an idea into a tangible product that people can use or purchase.
At this stage, you will now create a prototype or sample of your finalized product concept. If your product is a motorcycle, you can create a toy-like version of it. This prototype will include the features and designs that you first planned in the concept ideation stage. The same prototype will be used for testing market viability.
Depending on the results of this stage, if it’s a success, you might proceed to manufacturing and marketing.
In other cases, the product development process begins with a detailed plan for a new product where the team works backward from the finished product to develop another prototype. This process is known as product life cycle management.
Step 6: Commercialization/Launch
This will be the final step of your product development process – the launch of your product.
When you introduce your product to the market, the control will be passed to the market. Most of the decisions of your company will rely on how the market perceive your product.
In commercialization, timing is critical to your product’s success. An obvious example is launching a Christmas movie in July or introducing swimwear during the winter.
The launch can either be a one-time big-time or a gradual process from one market to another. This choice will be reliant on your resources and the competition.
To ensure that your product is the best that it can be, you need to go through a series of steps that’s critical to your product’s success. It’s a process and also a cycle.
Note that this process can be altered depending on your needs. There are other steps you can add or eliminate to make your product development process easy for you and your committee.