Stages of Product Development
By Arijit Banerjee
Developing a product can often make or break businesses, especially startups. Product development steps may vary for different businesses based on the management, but they ideally follow as given below:
Well, not the way Dilbert describes in the comic. Every company follows a broadly defined roadmap to allow for a flexible and focused approach. This roadmap can be used for different types of products and services to encourage productivity across the board.
1. Idea generation
The Customer is the King, and keeping that in mind the ‘idea’ could be something revolutionary or an improvement on an existing product. It can be conceptualized from various market sources, which provide information about the customer’s likes and dislikes, feedback on existing products and more. In addition to this, internal and external SWOT analysis should be performed incorporating current marketing trends.
During idea generation, a number of ideas come up, it is a part of the project management function to evaluate these ideas and decide which ones to nip in the bud. It is impossible to execute ALL ‘good’ ideas. At the same time, executing a bad idea could cost the company severely instead of bringing in money. Ideas can be evaluated taking into consideration customers and competitors.
3. Concept Development
Since the end result of the product is customer satisfaction, it is ideal to involve customers in developing the product concept. Do they understand what you are offering? Do they want it? Will they pay for the product? The draft of the product needs to be developed at this stage and the outcomes that are trying to be achieved should be defined as well.
4. Business analysis
The idea should be analyzed from a business perspective to determine if there is competition for a similar product, current and future demand for the product, costs affiliated with the product through the development stages to determine profitability for the company and so on.
5. Product marketability
Arranging test groups, launching beta versions etc. allow the company to elicit valuable information from actual customers to determine if any product modifications are required. It also provides insight into what kind of marketing can be used during the actual launch.
6. Product development
A prototype is developed to make way for investigation of design specifications and manufacturing methods. It also allows for functional and consumer tests. After all the iterations are tested and finalized, the final product goes into mass production.
This is when the marketing team takes the stage as it creates new markets for the product, bringing in customers to purchase the product or service. Marketing strategies are put in place along with distribution and sales plans.
8. Post launch
For any product, the process should be flexible and therefore the product manager should not only have a plan for introductory pricing and final pricing. He/she also needs to be vigilant to ensure the product stays competitive in the market through its lifecycle by gauging customer’s changing needs and market trends.
This is a broad outline, however the process should be dynamic and adapt to the changing scenarios in product development.