Product development can be both exciting and challenging. No two product launches are alike, from initial ideation through research and prototyping. There is a general process, however. This will help you to get started on the product development process.
The product development process describes the six steps that were necessary to move a product from its initial conception to its final launch on the market. This involves identifying a market demand. Researching the competition, developing a solution, and creating a product roadmap are some of the steps and building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
In recent years, the product development process has changed, and is common to divide each step into six distinct phases. This allows you to organize your work and breaks down individual deliverables into smaller tasks.
What is product development?
Product development refers to the process of creating a new product from its conception through launch. Product development starts with the initial brainstorming sessions if you are just talking about a budding idea. The process of product development is both creative and strategic. You may have seen it done in many different ways. It can be difficult to combine creativity and strategy without a clear structure. This is where product development comes in. It consists of six steps that will help you to standardize and define what you do.
Also read: How to Convert Your Idea Into A Product (and Launch It!)
Difference between product management and product development?
Although they sound similar, there is a significant difference between product management and product development. Product development is the process of creating a product. While product management oversees that process. This is a subtle distinction, but it’s an important one. Product management is usually led by a product manager who oversees the product development team.
The 6 stages of product development
The product development process not only simplifies a launch but also makes it easier. It encourages cross-team collaboration with teamwork & communication at the forefront.
Let’s take a look at the product lifecycle and identify the six phases. These are all important to launch your next product.
1. Idea generation (Ideation)
The first stage of product development begins with the creation of new product ideas. This is the product innovation phase. Here you will brainstorm product ideas based on customer requirements, market research, and concept testing. When you are thinking of a new product idea, it is a smart thing to think about the following:
- Target market: Your target market is the profile of consumers for whom you are building your product. These are your potential customers. This is crucial to know in order to build your product around your target market right from the start.
- Existing products: It’s a smart idea to look at your existing product portfolio before you launch a new product. Existing products that solve the same problem? Is there a competitor offering a product that isn’t competitive? Is your new idea unique enough to be feasible? These questions will help you determine if your new idea is a success.
- Functionality: Although you don’t necessarily need to know every detail about the product’s functionality, it is a good idea to have an overview of its functions. Think about the appearance of your product and why people would want to purchase it.
- SWOT analysis: This will help you create the best possible version of your new idea by analyzing your product strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. This will help you ensure that your product is unique and fills a gap in the market.
- SCAMPER method: SCAMPER is a brainstorming tool that can help you refine your ideas. It involves substituting, combing, adapting, modifying, putting it to another use, and eliminating or rearranging your product.
Consider creating a business case to document your ideas and validate your product idea. This will enable all members of the team to understand the product features and the goals of the new product launch.
2. Product definition
After you have completed your business case and discussed the target market and the product functionality, it is time to create the product. This process is also known as a concept or scoping development and focuses on refining your product strategy.
It’s crucial to clarify details during this stage.
- Business analysis: This includes detailed competitor analysis, distribution strategy, and eCommerce strategy mapping. This step is used to create a product roadmap.
- Value proposition: This value is useful for market research as well as for marketing strategy development. It should be compared to other products on the market. This value is useful for market research as well as for marketing strategies.
- Success metrics: You need to define success metrics before the product launches so that you can measure and evaluate success. What are the key metrics that you should be looking out for? These can be simple KPIs such as average order value or more complex metrics like custom-set goals that are relevant to your company.
- Marketing strategy: After identifying your value proposition, success metrics, and other relevant information, you can start brainstorming a marketing plan that suits your needs. You should consider the channels that you will use to promote your product, such as blogs and social media. This strategy will need to be modified depending on what the final product is, but it’s worth considering when you are defining your product in order to start planning ahead.
Once you have these ideas, it is time to start prototyping your minimum viable product (MVP).
Also read: The Role of Data Analytics in Product Development R&D Process
During the prototyping phase, your team will conduct extensive research and documents on the product by creating a detailed business plan and building the product. These prototypes in the early stages of development can be as simple as a drawing, or more complicated computer renderings of the original design. These prototypes can help you to identify areas of risk before creating the product.
During the prototyping phase, You will be able to work on details such as:
- Feasibility analysis: Next, evaluate your product strategy on the basis of feasibility. Find out if it is possible to accomplish the estimated workload and timeline. You can adjust your dates to accommodate this and seek assistance from other stakeholders.
- Market risk research: Before your product is actually created, it is important to understand the potential risks involved in its production.
This will ensure that the product launch does not get delayed. This will help you communicate any risks to your team by logging them into a risk registry.
- Your development strategy: Now you can start working on your plan. This means you need to know how and when tasks will be assigned. The critical path method is a way to plan tasks and estimate time.
- MVP: This is the final product of the prototyping phase. Your MVP is a product with the minimum features required to go online and everything else that’s needed to work. An MVP bike, for example, would have a frame, wheels, and a seat. However, it wouldn’t include a bell or basket. An MVP will help you and your team launch the product faster than building all the features. This can cause delays in launch times. You can add desired features later on if bandwidth is available.
It’s now time to start designing the product for launch.
4. Initial design
During the initial design phase project, stakeholders collaborate to create a mockup of their product using the MVP prototype. Your target audience should be considered when designing the product. It must also reflect the key features of the product.
A successful product design may to get it just right, you may need to go through several iterations. This may include contacting distributors to source the necessary materials to produce the initial design, you will:
- Source materials: This is an essential step in the creation of your initial mockup. This could involve working with different vendors, ordering materials, or making your own. Materials can be sourced from many places. You should record material use in a shared area so that you can refer to it later.
- Establish a relationship with stakeholders: To ensure that your initial design is on track, it’s essential to maintain close communication throughout the design phase. To share weekly or daily progress reports and to get approvals,
- Get initial feedback: Once the design is completed, you can ask senior management and other stakeholders for feedback. The product design can be revised as necessary until it is finalized and ready for implementation.
Once the design has been approved, it is ready to be sent off. Move on to the validation phase, where final testing will be done before the product is launched.
5. Validation and testing
Before you can go live with a product, it is important to validate and test the product. This validates and tests the product from development to marketing to ensure it is effective before it is released to the general public.
Please complete these steps to ensure that your product is of high quality.
- Concept development and testing: Although you may have created your prototype successfully, it is still necessary to resolve any problems that might arise during the design process. This could include software development or physical production. To ensure quality assurance, you can test functionality with beta testers and team members.
- Front-end testing: This stage is where you test the functionality to identify potential risks such as errors in the development code or those that could affect consumers. This involves testing the eCommerce functionality to ensure it is stable before launch.
- Testing marketing: Before you start producing your final product, make sure to test your marketing plan for errors and functionality. Also, this is a good time to make sure that all campaigns are ready for launch.
After your initial testing is completed, you can begin to produce the final product idea and launch it to customers.
Now, it’s time for you to commercialize your idea. This involves launching your product on your website and implementing it.
You’ve now finished the design, and have quality-tested your marketing and development strategies. Your final version should be confident and you are ready to create your final product.
This stage is where you should be working:
- Product Development: This is the actual creation of your product and its release to customers. This could require additional development or production for software concepts. Your team should have the final prototype and MVP versions to ensure that the product meets all specifications.
- Ecommerce implementation: Once the product is developed and you can be launched. Your development team will convert your eCommerce materials into a live state. Additional testing may be required to make sure your product works. It was intended during the prior front-end testing phase. You may need to perform additional testing in order for your product to function as intended.
Now your final product has been launched. Now it’s time to evaluate success using the initial success metrics that you chose.
Who is part of the product development team?
Many people and teams are involved in product development. The product manager is the main leader. He oversees all aspects of product development including ideation, research, and development as well as a product launch.
- Product Management: A product manager oversees all aspects of the product’s life cycle and helps to bridge communication gaps between internal and external teams. Product managers are responsible for initiating new product launches, market research, and product ideation.
- Project Management: A Project Manager might be involved in product development to support cross-departmental communication. They may also help with goal tracking and task delegation.
- Design: The design team assists during the prototyping phase and the designing phase to support visual product concepts. It is important to link product designs with brand guidelines, UX best practices, and brand guidelines.
- Development: The development team assists with the implementation of your product on your website. Depending on the complexity of your concept, most often, developers work together to create a new product offering.
- Marketing: The marketing team will help with the development of the marketing strategy and test it before the product launches. They will also assess the success of marketing initiatives.
- Sales: The product manager collaborates with the sales team in order to develop a strategy and report on the success metrics once the product is implemented.
- Senior management: Senior stakeholders might need to approve the final product before it can be launched.
Finance, engineering, and other stakeholders may also play important roles. Depending on the complexity of a concept, all of these teams can play an important role.
A product development process that is well-organized and collaborative can streamline every step. These six stages will guide your team through every step of the product development process, from initial idea screening through to the final phase.