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What are the steps in the product development process?

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There are millions of products in the market catering to the needs of customers all over the world. These products didn’t spring up overnight but had to pass through the product development process to become a reality. It all starts from the need to solve a particular problem until the product or service becomes available for use.

Every entrepreneur has a vision they want to pursue, and the process of bringing that vision to life is where the challenges lie.

No matter what solution you want to offer and form, it will pass through a development process to be successful.

Also, without running it through these processes, it might become a total failure.

So, if you’re aspiring to offer a tangible product to specific target customers, this article is for you.

We will be exploring the steps in the product development process from idea generation to full-scale commercialization.

It doesn’t matter the type of product you have in mind.

RELATED: THE COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO FIND A MANUFACTURER FOR YOUR PRODUCT IDEA

If you want your idea to become a reality successfully, follow these development process steps.

But, before we go into all that, let’s do a brief on the product development process.

What is the product development process?

The product development process involves all the steps required to produce a tangible product.

It usually starts from a problem or need identification and gradually ends at full-scale commercialization.

The person who plays a vital role in every step of the development process is the product manager.

He/she takes part in every decision, allocation, production, marketing, testing, etc.

Apart from the product manager, other teams must work day and night to ensure the success of the process.

For instance, the development team must be there, the design team, the marketing team, sales, finance, and testing teams have to add their input for successful product development.

So, the product development process is encompassing and involves almost every department in a company.

But the product manager will be the strategic direction for all the steps involved in the process.

Product managers across different manufacturing companies are responsible for pulling the cross-functional team together, create the product roadmap and also oversee the progress of the process.

So what are the product development steps?

Product development steps:

There are 7 steps in the new product development process.

1. Idea generation

Every product we use today started as an idea.

The idea generation stage involves a systematic search to discover a unique product idea for the market.

You may not know this, but many companies who offer one product or the other didn’t decide on a particular one easily.

They spent time and resources gathering as many ideas as possible before choosing the best fit for their resources and goals.

A light bulb like an idea generation for product development process

When you want to gather ideas for new product development, there’re two sources to explore.

The first one is the internal sources, and the next one is the external sources.

The internal sources include your research and development team coming up with lots of ideas from their market research.

Another internal source to use is your employees.

They can come up with different ideas as well from their perspectives as potential users.

Since they’re mingling with your potential market, they can suggest product ideas based on their needs, experiences, etc.

When it comes to external sources, you can rely on your suppliers, distributors, competitors, etc. most importantly, your customers are great external sources for idea generation.

They can suggest new products that you can offer in line with what you already have on the ground.

Apart from creating a unique product, do you know that you can modify an existing one to be better even faster?

So many of the products we have today stem from a creative modification of an existing product.

For instance, we have many toothpaste types today, and each brand aims to offer something unique, effective, and satisfying.

But no matter how many companies and modifications of the product we have, they’re all toothpaste.

Market by modifying

Someone first produced the toothpaste, and others went into the market by modifying it to be better or for different reasons.

That’s why you can find “herbal toothpaste” in the market today.

So, instead of hitting the wall trying to find something that no one has thought about.

You can build on an existing idea and offer a much better solution.

But if you can come up with that unique and untapped idea, you’re a genius.

But if not possible, generate many ideas and choose from them.

You can use these pointers to gauge the viability of your ideas.

  • Your idea must match your company’s interests.
  • It must be one that your company has the skill to explore and create
  • The new idea must have the capacity to solve someone’s problem.
  • It must be something that people would buy.
  • Your new product idea must be scalable.

If you apply these criteria in your idea generation stage, they’ll help you to come with a great product idea for your company.

The truth is that you can generate thousands of ideas if you put your mind to it.

Many problems out there need solutions.

But you can’t provide the products to solve them all.

You have to streamline your ideas to what your company can handle based on resources, skills, and profitability.

If you generate 50 great ideas, does it mean that your company can develop all of them?

The answer is no!

So, come up with something doable and marketable at this stage.

2. Research/idea Screening

After deciding on the new product idea that best suits your company, it’s time to screen it.

This is an important step in the product development process.

It involves careful screening of all the ideas and selecting the best ones out of them all.

Of course, the idea generation step leaves you with a multitude of seemingly profitable ideas to consider.

But when it gets to the screening stage, you’ll discover that the whole number has come down to almost half.

Developing a new product is a major cost-consuming venture that a company should handle with care.

So, it’ll be unwise to pursue ideas that won’t make great ROI in the future.

A lot of money with growing graph in the background

So, to save time, energy, and money, the idea screening and research step are essential.

You need to validate the product idea you want to pursue before continuing.

Product validation simply means to confirm that people will buy the new products.

You don’t want to waste your effort, money, and time on a product that won’t sell.

So, you have to try passing the idea around to see the response.

To do that, you can take the following actions:

  • Talk to your friends and family about this great idea you have and hear their thoughts. They want to see you succeed, so they’ll tell you if the product won’t sell.
  • Utilize online survey platforms to get as much feedback as you can about the amazing idea. These people don’t know you, so they don’t care about your feelings. So they’ll lay it hard when expressing their opinions.
  • Research your new idea online through Google Trends. With that, you’ll know whether anyone is searching for the products or related products.
  • Visit Reddit. Just like online surveys, you can get insightful feedback from many people all over the world. At least, you can be sure of gathering many views and opinions from them about your idea.
  • Try launching a “coming soon” campaign about the product and gauge the number of opt-ins and pre-orders you’ll get.
  • Try a crowdfunding campaign; even if you have the money already for the product development. Running such a campaign will help you gauge the impact of the idea. If many people are willing to invest in it, that means they believe it will succeed.

But keep this in mind, the number of support shouldn’t be your only criteria for validating the product.

You may produce it, and the same people who validated it won’t buy it.

So, try to achieve a balance between the “yes and no” feedback.

In that case, you can take a step further by researching your competitors.

The information you gather about their progress, customer reactions, and patronage will also help you validate your idea.

3. Concept development & Testing

This is another important step in the product development process.

You have to prepare a detailed description of your wonderful idea from a customers’ perspective.

While developing your concept, you must focus on how it’ll benefit the customers and not the company.

What are those amazing features of your new product idea that will solve the customer’s problems?

So, think of how the new solutions can meet these criteria.

  • Usability
  • Values
  • Performance
  • Quality
  • Convenience
  • Experience
  • Price
  • Functionality

With all that in mind, go ahead to develop your concept by first describing it from your customers’ point of view.

Then, list all the features of your new product and the benefits that customers would love to gain.

After that, do some research to know your target audience.

Then, carry out extensive market research as well and also conduct focus groups.

Don’t forget to consider all the resources you’ll need to design, manufacture and deliver your new product to the customers.

After developing the concept where you listed the features & benefits of that idea, you need to know the reactions of those who’ll use it.

This is very important in the product development process because if the target market doesn’t accept the new product, it’s best to terminate it at this stage.

So, to easily gauge the reactions of your market, find the answers to these questions:

  • Is your target market interested in your product?
  • Did they like your new product concept?
  • Did they appreciate the features?
  • What are the features that piqued their interest more?
  • Is your product compared to others like it in the market?
  • At what price will the customers appreciate the product
  • What necessary changes would they need in the product

If you can answer these questions during your concept testing, you can easily determine the success or failure of the new product.

It’s even better to expose your concept to groups of customers to analyze their responses.

That way, you’ll know how they value the concept and how it appeals to them.

4. Marketing strategy

You’re probably wondering, “Am I to develop a marketing strategy for a product still on paper?”

Well, the answer is yes.

Developing your marketing strategy is a crucial part of the new product development process.

After developing your concept, you tested it to know how the target market will react to it.

Fortunately, you got good and encouraging support from the market.

This means that the product development is a go.

Then you have to go ahead to develop your marketing strategy before the product development itself.

In developing the marketing strategy, there’re three parts to complete.

  • Describing your target market, preparing your value proposition, planning for the actual sales, and deciding on the market share & profit goals within a specified period.
  • The second part involves outlining the product price, preparing the marketing and distribution budget for year one of the launch.
  • Then, outlining the long-term sales goals, marketing mix strategy, and profit goals.

One important benefit of developing a strong marketing strategy is that it’ll increase the interest of your target market in the product.

It doesn’t matter whether your product is something new and unique or a modification of an already existing product.

Once you get this step in the product development process right, you can be sure of recording huge success.

Another important point worth mentioning is that developing an encompassing marketing strategy will help you allocate funds effectively.

It will also help you to evaluate the risks involved in your project and manage time for the whole product development process.

5. Business analysis

After developing your marketing strategy, the next step in the new product development is the business analysis.

Here is where a company’s management tries to find out if the new product is attractive business-wise.

Business analysis on MAC for the best product development process

Without this stage, the management may not push the idea to the product development stage.

The truth is that estimating sales for the new product will not be easy.

But you can conduct some market surveys on similar products and trace their history from the product development stage.

With that, you can estimate the maximum and minimum sales to gauge the underlying risks.

After forecasting the sales, it’ll now be easy to estimate your product’s cost and the profit to expect from it.

After all that, you can easily decide on the business attractiveness of the new product development project.

6. Product Development

Every other step in the product development process leads to developing the product into a tangible solution.

Before the product development, everything about it is what you drew on paper, the description you wrote during the concept development, or maybe a prototype.

But after the business analysis and proving that the product is attractive business-wise, you’ll move over to developing the physical product.

At the product development step, the research and development departments play vital roles with the engineering department.

However, the costs also rise at this stage because of all the developments and testing of multiple new product versions.

The truth is that it may take the R&D department to finalize new product development.

Sometimes, it may run into years before they achieve the target product.

Even when they achieve the product you envisage, they’ll carry out several tests to ensure the effectiveness and safety of the product on the market.

This is why it takes years to release a new drug.

A pharmaceutical company will expose their drugs to many stages of testing before releasing them to the market.

7. Test marketing

Before the full-scale commercialization, you must carry out the test marketing step to put all your marketing strategies to work.

At this stage, you want to determine if the new product will perform well in the market.

Test marketing aims to gather information about the product’s appearance, customer satisfaction, viability, etc.

With this information, you can now decide on full-scale commercialization or to drop the venture.

When it comes to testing marketing, experts recommend that you carry out two types.

The first one is consumer-product test marketing, while the second one is industrial product market testing.

While the first is to determine the extent to which the customers accept the product, the second one is focused on how the industry reacts to the product.

This is the stage where you can conduct both your Alpha testing and Beta testing.

One of the benefits of test marketing in the new product development process is to reduce the imminent risk of a full-scale launch when the product is not viable.

So, once you’re through with this process and discovers that your product is a hit.

You can now move to the last step in the new product development process.

8. Commercialization/Full-scale launch

After your market testing, it’ll be clear that you’re either launching the product or terminating it.

If it’s viable, you’re ready to bring it to the market.

Commercialization in new product development means the step where you introduce your new product to your target market.

At this stage, you’ll need to maximize your marketing strategies to the fullest to ensure a successful launch.

It is at this point that companies spend the highest amount of money for mass production and marketing.

You’ll hire or build the manufacturing facility, engage in sales promotion, spend money on advertising, etc., to ensure that your new product gets to the hands of the customers.

But before you commercialize, you must strategize smartly to avoid failure.

First, you must introduce your products at the right time and in the right place.

You have to target the peak of the product’s seasons when many people will be searching for what you have to offer.

Then you need to decide on the place to commercialize, whether at a national level, single location, international market, etc.

Steps to success: idea, plan, action, motivation

Remember, you must heighten your marketing efforts at this step.

You don’t want your product to gather dust at the back of a lonely shelf.

So, at this stage, do all you can to tell people about it, and that’s through marketing.

How to manage the new product development process?

It’s challenging to create quality products in this era where technology has fastened the pace we live and work.

The new product development process involves many teams, partners, vendors, locations, suppliers, etc.

If you want to achieve your new product development, you must synchronize these teams to achieve a specific design, comply with regulatory requirements, respond to your potential customer demands and stay within your budget.

Your aim, of course, is to change the world with an innovative solution.

So, you want to deliver higher-quality products easier and faster.

This means that you need to pursue an effective new product development process to ensure you reach your goals.

Once you’ve identified the need in the market, you need to follow up the process from the design to the full production.

Your design team and others must regularly update your product records with the latest information about the process.

That way, you’ll have all the information to manufacture it, market, and support your product.

To achieve this feat, we recommend creating a product development platform that will support the product development process from design to commercialization.

The platform will also manage the whole product record in one place to equip your team with everything they need to achieve every goal of the new product development.

Other things you can do to manage your product development process includes:

  • Effective communication in the company
  • Sharing insights and knowledge with all those involved
  • Create a system before starting
  • Set realistic new product development timelines
  • Record your designs by taking snapshots at every important time
  • Development metrics for the product development process
  • Create your project management database

Software product development process:

The software product development process has to do with all the processes involved in creating high-quality solutions.

There’re 6 stages in the process, plus an extra stage, which is the maintenance stage.

So, let’s check them out!

1. Problem identification

Before developing any software, the design team will first gather input from all the stakeholders to identify the problem they’re facing.

They’ll get the inputs of the customers, industry experts, programmers, and even the salespeople.

Also, the design team will then analyze the current system to identify its strengths & weaknesses.

2. Planning

After the design team has analyzed and identified the problem, they’ll now plan the project in terms of costs, resources, and risks.

This stage is where they’ll know if the project is feasible and how to implement it in a less risky way.

3. Design

Here is where they’ll create the design plan using the software specification.

This design is like a footprint to achieving the goals of the project.

After creating the design specifications, they’ll allow the stakeholders to review it and provide feedback and maybe some suggestions.

4. Build

This is the stage where the developers start to create the design to what the stakeholders want.

They must build the software according to what’s in the blueprint and also follow appropriate guidelines in terms of best practices and code style.

5. Code test

After designing and developing, this stage is to check if the whole process delivered what the company and its stakeholders want.

The software design team or developers will start testing the code for deficiencies or defects.

If they identify any, they’ll fix it until the software meets the design specifications.

6. Software deployment

After checking that the software is what the design specification says, the developers will deploy it to the environment where it is needed.

Once they deploy it, they’ll allow the users to use it.

But in some organizations, it takes many deployment environments to certify a software fit for users.

The companies don’t release it fast but allow the stakeholders to test it first before the full-scale release.

The rationale behind this is to check if there’s any other mistake that the design team should correct before releasing the software.

7. Software maintenance

Many software design companies don’t just deploy it to their customers and run away.

They’re always monitoring and looking for ways to update & advance the product to match the real-world demands.

If the developers identify any defect during maintenance.

They’ll fix it for their clients even though sometimes, it may cost extra money to keep them on standby.

The textile product development process:

Like we mentioned earlier, every product follows a unique process before becoming a consumer product.

So, let’s explore the textile product development process of apparel.

1. Concept

Every apparel we wear today was once an idea before it became a product.

Before entering into the production, the designer comes up with an idea of apparel that may be based on the trend or season.

As usual, he/she will pass through the idea screening stage to select the best one worth pursuing.

2. Sketching

After deciding on the type and style of the apparel, the next thing is to sketch the design of what the new product will look like.

This is where the product development of the fashion industry starts.

The designer can produce a sketch on paper or use a digital program such as Procreate to produce the sketch.

3. Sample

After sketching the design on paper or digitally, the next step in product development is to create the sample.

The fashion industry follows a different process, which many people think is simpler.

The designer can use a seamstress to make the samples in different size sets or use a pattern maker.

Production

After making the samples of different size sets, the company moves to produce the apparel.

Some companies may decide not to flood the market with the product but to print it on demand.

This is a type of product development method where you upload your designs on an app where people can place orders for your products.

Once you get the orders, you can print the design on different items like t-shirts or sweaters and sell them.

Final Words

Every product development follows a process to reach the market.

It starts from the ideation stage, screening, testing, etc.

Each of these steps is crucial to the success of the process.

You can’t jump from the idea generation to commercialization and expect the product to succeed.

That’s why it’s a step by step process that every manufacturing company must follow in their new product development.

Apart from using these steps for a new product, they’re also applicable to a modification project where you try to improve your old product.

New product development is a huge project that requires time, effort, resources, concentration, and grit.

It is a huge venture that can lead a company to bankruptcy if they mismanage it.

Imagine passing through the processes and discovering that the product is not viable or profitable.

That’ll mean a huge loss for the company.

This is why you must also focus on how to manage your new product development process effectively.

If you don’t manage each of these steps, you may not achieve your goals in the end.

Remember, the new product development process involves a lot of teams.

So, you must try your best to ensure that they are working towards the same product development goals.

To do that, you need to create a platform and design a system for the teams to follow.

By creating a platform and system for the new product development process.

You can also support your product with relevant details as the process progresses.