Product Development refers to the holistic process of creating a product that has some utility. It could also refer to the steps required to upgrade or modify some existing product or add new features. In simple words – Product Development is all about ensuring everything – about a new feature, product, or modification – goes seamlessly, from conception to implementation.
Product Development broadly contains the following key elements:
- Innovating: To pave the way for new features and products that solve the customers’ pain points.
- Improving: The current system or product in order to get the update rolling quickly.
- Enhancing: The current techniques to improve the overall customer experience.
Through this article, we’ll help you understand the nuances behind Product Development, along with some key tips that you must keep in mind while leading any Product Development process.
The Product Development Process!
The Product Development process consists of all the steps required to take a product from inception to marketing. The process starts with ideation and ends with marketing strategies, pricing techniques, distribution strategies, and other go-to-market strategies.
The Product Development process aims to bring something new to existence and mitigate various risk factors that can be caused by elements like poor product development, noncompetitive pricing, low brand awareness, delayed or premature market entry, and such.
Further, when we look at the numbers, the importance of a well-established Product Development process gets even clearer. Here are some such statistical facts to consider:
- Only 1 in 7 product ideas end up in a successful product.
- Only 4 in 7 product ideas enter the development stage.
- 25%-45% of launched products end up failing.
Further, according to research conducted by Wheelwright and Clark, businesses that go about Product Development in a structured manner are more likely to experience success in their endeavours. As a result of this, companies across the spectrum are looking for Product Development experts to help them get things into place.
The Product world is extremely inclusive and allows people from different backgrounds to be a part of it. If you’re, too, aspiring to be a Product professional, here are the important steps of a Product Development process that you should know about.
Key Steps of a Product Development Process
By now, the importance of Product Development must be clear to you. Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process that makes Product Development seamless and more effective.
#1. Ideation and Conceptualization
It begins with defining the initial concept for your product. Conceptualization or idea generation is all about systematically searching for fresh concepts and ideas that solve your customer’s problem. Any business typically generates a number of ideas, with only a handful of them being useful.
Sources of new ideas for this step could be:
- Discussion with the developers and the development team.
- Conference with sales and marketing teams.
- Performing comprehensive market and competitor analysis.
- Checking data and analyzing trends and patterns.
At the end of this step, you should have a proper idea or a concept documented with you for presentation or approval.
#2. Researching and Validation
Once the right product idea is noted down, the next step comes in the form of leaping ahead to the production. However, this can be a mistake if you fail to validate the idea first.
Researching and validating ensures that the product solves the needs of the people it is aimed at. There are many different ways for validating or researching the listed product idea, including:
- Crowdfunding campaign
- Online surveys
- Online forums like Quora or Reddit
- Market and competitor research
#3. Creating Business Plan
In this step, you need to come up with a full-fledged business plan for the product idea you just got validated. This encompasses all the financial elements that will be involved in marketing and developing the product.
#4. Setting a Prototype
Once the finances are by and far settled, it comes to creating a prototype of the product. Think of the prototype as a preliminary product to test product designing, validate user hypothesis, present to stakeholders, and use as a beta for marketing purposes. The prototype can either be a physical or a digital product. This is the stage from where things start to get rolling in the Product Development process!
#5. Testing the Prototype
Once you’ve created the prototype, it’s time to test it with potential customers. This can either be done informally by reaching out to current customers or by using formal focus groups. The purpose of testing is to generate genuine feedback that you can work on. In this stage, you should be seeking the following answer:
- What do the customers like or dislike about the prototype?
- What part of it do they feel needs improvements or modifications?
- What do they feel about your price point?
- Are they likely to recommend such a product to their friends?
#6. Financial decisions and costing
By the time you reach this stage, you’ll have a pretty solid understanding and vision of the product you’re going to build. The costing stage is all about taking the data collected so far and adding everything up to the cost of goods sold. This is done to determine the gross margin and retail price. These prices will include things like manufacturing costs, factory costs, raw materials, and shipping costs if any.
#7. Final Product Designing
With the final prototype and costing settled, it’s time to write all the technicalities associated with the product design phase. In this stage, work on the type of product you want to launch in the market. You may work with external designers or developers and help them understand your prototype and idea and get started with the final design and development.
#8. Marketing and Distributing the Product
Once the product is designed and developed as per your liking, it’s about getting the word out there! Marketing and sales are extremely crucial, and if not done right, all the previous efforts will go to waste. This is the final stage of the Product Development process and includes all the go-to-market and distribution strategies to get the product / feature out to more people.
Product Development Best Practices
With the Product Development process in place, here are some key practices that you most definitely should keep in mind in order to make the most out of the process. Here are they:
- Always start with empathizing with customers and understanding their needs and demands.
- Perform excessive market and competitor analysis to get a clearer picture.
- Communicate across different arms of the organization – from marketing, sales, development, designing to the stakeholders.
- Always have a step-by-step system in place before beginning with any product development tasks.
- Set realistic timelines and goals.
- Focus on the ideas that can be executed by your company’s skills and bandwidth.
From Conceptualization to Implementation!
Any product goes through numerous evolutions from the first stage to the last stage. Each stage plays an important role in the overall product development – so, you need to monitor each stage very carefully and look out for any patterns or anomalies. No matter what product, feature, or modification you’re developing, it should always be done by putting in all the necessary efforts into preparation if you wish to set yourself up for a successful final product!
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