A product or service does not come into existence out of thin air. There are months and years of thought and hard work that go into the creation of a new product. Product development is the process through which a new product (or service) comes into existence. It includes everything from the ideation of the concept to the creation of the final unit.
In this article, we will go through the things that come with the product development process. No matter what kind of product we talk about, there are always a few stages before it’s out on the market. Also note that when we say product, it includes both physical commodities and services like SaaS, IaaS, etc.
Stages of product development
The specific stages of product development can be very different from one company to another. It’s also influenced significantly by the product managers working on the projects.
While the rules may vary, the underlying principles do not. Every product begins with an idea, so we can say that conceptualization and ideation are the first steps to every product. After that, the product needs to be tested for viability, use, and market positioning. Then we come to the stage where you actually start building the product. There are stages to that as well — first, you want a prototype, then an MVP followed by the end product.
Having said that, let’s find out what the individual steps look like and what’s their sequence.
The seed of all products was in an idea. In the ideation or idea generation stage, you are thinking about what a product would look like at what it could do. It’s not uncommon for the original idea to be much fancier than the final product. That’s because a lot of features and functionalities are dropped to make the feature viable and affordable.
Reviewing and screening
Once you have an idea, you have to share it with a lot of people. That’s the easiest way to find out whether there are any flaws in the idea. If there are flaws, it helps you identify solutions to them.
When putting an idea for review, make sure you are talking only to experts. While a layperson would be able to point out flaws, they may not be able to suggest solutions and workarounds.
The purpose of reviewing an idea is to make sure that it sounds right and logical to more than one person. It ensures the continuity of the remaining product development process and highlights the roadblocks ahead.
Testing the idea with customers
Customers need a glimpse of what you are about to offer if they are to have any meaningful opinion about it. Introducing a toned-down or base version of the product can accomplish that. Simply talking about the idea with customers is a great way to note how they react. If the reactions are mostly enthusiastic, the product would have an easier time finding a market fit.
Understanding the market goes beyond surveying customers. Conducting market research entails identifying the gaps that your new product would address. If the gap is not wide or prominent enough, your product may get lost among thousands of similar products.
Technical design and development
Design and development are the final stages before a product hits the market. In most cases, an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is launched first to check the final usability of the product.
The design and development phase is the longest in most product development projects. If there are issues in this stage, it would have far-reaching consequences in the success or failure of the product.
While marketing is not a part of the product development cycle per se, it’s still an important component of the product’s life cycle. Marketing and market research are closely tied. When you are identifying the gaps in the market, you are also recognizing ways in which you can market the product.
The success of any product depends largely on marketing. Even if you have the perfect product, it’s worth nothing if people do not know about it. That makes marketing a part of the product development process at least in some ways.
How to make your product development process faster and smoother
There are several ways to boost your product development process. Here are some of them:
Effective communication within a team and among teams is critical for success. At the same time, it’s hard to come by. If you want your product development process to be smooth and seamless, focus on making communication better.
There are many strategies to foster communication in the workplace, but the leader has to always lead by example. When all the units and branches are updated and in touch, the entire product development process becomes easier.
Preparing for failure
Not every product is an instant hit in the market. Some products take more time than others to be recognized. Before you launch your product to the market, make sure you are ready for failure. Only then can you afford the time and patience required to give the product its due time.
Sometimes your initial product idea may not be a hit, even after giving it the due time. In such cases, it’s for a rebranding. Rebranding also comes in handy if your product has existed in the market for a long time without any change.
Rebranding is more of a marketing effort, but sometimes you may want to change the product itself. Either way, having a rebranding strategy is crucial for all companies. It helps them deal with failure more proactively, or bring new life to an old product.
Product development is often stressful, just like anything else worthwhile. It’s the backbone of success for any company. In other words, we can say that successful businesses have successful product development strategies. We hope this article helps you with the fundamentals of product development. Remember that researching and improving continuously is the key to successful product development.