A Product Development Process can be described as all of the stages that must be completed by a business in order to take a product from its idea germination through to the point at which it becomes available on the market. Amongst other discrete steps, the process normally involves determining a need in the marketplace, conducting research on marketplace competition, visualizing and qualifying an opportunity, creating a product roadmap, and constructing a minimum viable product.
Perhaps the most pivotal role in the entire product development process is the Product Manager. With them being responsible for the success of a business’s products, they are normally the driving force in the development process. Nevertheless, departmental cooperation encompassing design and development, marketing, finance and sales, and testing, is essential. The role of the Product Manager nonetheless is overarching since it is they who will draw together the departments of the organization, use the product roadmap to promote strategic objectives, and have oversight of the development team’s operations.
There are a variety of specific ways by which the process of the product’s development can take place. Broader concepts that tend to appear in each case, and are widely accepted are:
Ideas This is the phase where the business harvests ideas. The organization may even have an Idea Management System with specific channels in place to collect ideas from its workforce. The leadership team will want to encourage a constant stream of future concepts - both from staff and from any other source - and a management framework facilitates this. Brainstorming sessions and lateral thinking exercises can be conducted as well as market research through surveys and interviews.
Research and evaluation In the first instance at this point, work starts on weeding out ideas that are wild, inappropriate, or even fanciful. Work can then begin on evaluating possibilities. Things like market research, further consumer feedback, identifying prospective customers, and assessing competition, are all components of attempting to determine the viability of the idea. Certainly, a key concept that is taken into consideration will be whether or not the concept aligns with the business’ strategic objectives. If it does not, and it cannot be modified to meet those aims, the idea will be cast aside.
Planning Once an idea has passed the viability test, planning for the project begins. Financing will be set in place with budget allocations for different product strands, staff resources and tasking designations worked out, product specifications set, and engineering methods described. This is where the product moves from being largely conceptual to being more tangible.
Development This is the exclusive vicinity of the development team. Various aspects of the product’s realization will occur through operations such as framework development, dependency planning, sprints, project strand merging, quality assurance, etc. Beta testing might occur so that the product can be assessed in a real-world environment and feedback from consumers and the market is possible. A prototype might also be made available to stakeholders. Technical documentation pertaining uniquely to the product will ideally have been written as the project progresses.
Market preparation Sourcing materials, scaling, channels for distribution, pricing points for the product, and a product launch plan are all implemented in order to prepare the product to enter the marketplace. Financial, marketing, and sales documentation will be collated in this phase.
Finally, the product will then be launched into the marketplace. Depending on the product and the business, the stages of development may overlap. Although the phases tend to begin sequentially and are interdependent, it is often expedient to begin a phase before the previous one has finished. Market preparation, for example, can start before the product has been completely developed.
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Choose a methodology There are a number of frameworks that have been evinced to develop products for business. Utilizing one of them is an astute place to start. Product Development grows in complexity as an idea travels through the development process from concept to reality. Following a framework is essential for retaining effective oversight and delivery of the project. Examples of concepts in existence are the IDEO approach, the BAH model, the Stage-gate model, the Lean Start-up approach, and the Exploratory Product Development approach.
Consumer understanding and attitude The seed of an idea may have been spawned in any manner, from a moment of clarity of a single individual to the collaboration of many groups based on a gap in the market. In any case, having an understanding of the attitude and behavior of the product’s consumers is a major advantage. Integrating consumer intelligence throughout the development wherever possible will serve to keep the product relevant and market-fit, from early validation of the concept to real-world beta testing in later development.
Idea generation Be open to entertaining ideas from anywhere within the organization’s workforce. A business relies on a steady stream of incoming ideas. Furthermore, any member of any team can hit upon an idea for a great product, and dismissing any individuals or groups can mean missing a successful commercial opportunity. By creating an initiative or a system to capture ideas across the whole organization, no opportunities go unchecked and the workforce will feel more fulfilled and motivated.
Communication Keep avenues of communication within the organization robust. This is so expertise and knowledge can be readily transmitted from person to person, across teams, across departments, and throughout the business. This is a common failing of many organizations and things like missed opportunities, accumulated technical debt, failure to share innovation, poor mentoring, and deficient leadership, are among the issues that can arise.
Timelines and deadlines Be realistic and pragmatic when laying down development timelines. Using roadmaps to guide the progress of the product can help to create efficient working schedules. These can also aid in prioritizing the right initiatives and in the right order as well as determining relationships between the project’s dependencies.