Product development is a process that requires a lot of brainstorming, forethought, and strategizing. The final product may look effortless; however, a lot goes into its development and launch. Many bright minds come together to create a product that simplifies or enhances human life. Therefore, in this blog, we would look at the product development process and the sweat and tears that go into it.
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What is Product Development?
Product development is a process that begins with ideation and ends with the launch of a business idea turned into a product. It is a process that demands a perfect blend of creativity, strategy, and practicality. A beautiful product without any utility is a product of no use. Similarly, a product that adds to the life of a user but is difficult to navigate through, isn’t well-accepted too.
Therefore, the product development process requires a multi-faceted approach, however, it must also have a clarity of vision and communication. For the same reason, there is a well-defined framework for product development that business and development teams must follow to create a relevant and well-functioning product, suitable for the market.
The process starts with studying the market and user requirements and pain points, then the prototype is built and finally, the product is made commercial. There are minor details that need to be taken care of and steps/stages of new product development that are involved that we are going to discuss in the next section.
Product Development Process
This section would talk about the steps or the stages of product development. The product development process gives a clear structure to the development task and facilitates cross-team collaboration.
Following a clearly defined process ensures that the collective efforts of different development and design teams are realized to create the intended product.
Let’s look at the different stages of new product development.
1. Ideation and Research
The product development process begins with coming up with a product idea or idea. These ideas are not formed in a vacuum.
A lot of external as well as internal factors are at play. Product development is an ambitious process and a hefty investment. Thus, the market and users are studied, and then a product idea is created. The initial research is as important as the remaining development process, perhaps a bit more sometimes.
The following factors should be considered when starting a new product development process:
Market Research: This research involves studying the market conditions and identifying the target audience for your project. Additionally, the user requirements, pain points, and product gaps in the market are identified. This is a very crucial step as the product must have a market purpose and fill the intended and required gap.
Competitor Analysis: This step involves studying and analyzing the already existing products in the market. This helps a business avoid product duplication, or analyze if the new product will be viable in the market filled with options, what additional features or functionalities that can be added, etc.
Features and Functionality: While a business does not need to be extremely clear about the features and functionalities of the product just yet, a rough idea must be there.
SWOT Analysis: SWOT analysis is another important step in the product development process. Identifying your product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats at the initial stages help a business to have a clear idea of the product and create the most optimal version of it.
The product research and analysis should be done carefully and should be documented for better execution of the next steps and to form a solid product non-functional foundation.
2. Product Planning and Definition
Once you are done with ideation, research, and identifying the target market and product functionality, the next stage involves product definition. This step is also known as scoping or concept development. It focuses on polishing up the product strategy.
This stage involves defining some product specifics such as:
Business Analysis: This step lays the ground for a product roadmap. It involves working out distribution and e-commerce strategy as well as more detailed and in-depth competitor analysis.
Value Proposition: This refers to what market problems the product is targeting. In addition, it defines product differentiation and adds value to further research and marketing strategies.
Progress/Success Metrics: This is an important step that helps you track the progress made by your product against some pre-determined metrics as well as analyze and measure success once the product is launched. These metrics could be as basic as average order value or as narrow or targeted as some customized specific set goals.
Marketing Strategy: Preparing an effective marketing strategy is essential to let users know that there is a product in the market that could solve a particular problem. Chalking out the relevant and suitable channels to communicate about or market your product is involved in this step. These channels may include social media platforms, networking platforms, company websites, etc. At this stage, the strategy made is rough and open to revisions and changes.
These clearly defined product specifics help business and development teams to build a solid minimum viable product (MVP) with initial prototyping.
The prototyping stage of product development is a crucial one. It requires the development and business teams to research in-depth and document the product specifics, creating a more detailed business plan.
While this step might involve a basic drawing of the product, some teams also prepare more complex computer render of the initial design in the prototyping stage. These prototypes facilitate the identification of potential risks and threats before the beginning of the actual product development process.
During this stage of the new product development process, teams work on the following specifics:
Feasibility Test: These analyses involve evaluating the feasibility and achievability of the workload against the timelines in mind. If both do not match, a business must adjust its timelines or seek additional development help.
Market Risk Analysis: Before investing in the physical development of the product, a business must evaluate all the potential risks and threats posed by market factors. This would help a business avoid future delays and failures and give a heads-up or word of caution to the development teams.
MVP: Minimum Viable Product or MVP is the product with which a business tests the waters. It is the outcome of the prototyping stage of the product development process.
It collects and records the reactions or opinions of the users who have experienced the product. This testing version of the product launches with carefully zeroed down, most crucial features enough to give the gist of the product to the users. The time and cost of building an MVP depend upon a lot of factors such as the nature of the product, features added, development teams, etc. MVPs are especially crucial for startups seeking to start and thrive in business.
Now the initial design is created for the product market launch.
This product development process stage involves producing a mock-up of the product with keeping the MVP prototype as the base.
The must be created keeping all the product specifics like target audience, features, functionalities, etc., in mind.
This stage may require several iterations and constant communication with the distributors for material supply.
Regular communication and updates need to be circulated within the team as well to keep all the concerned employees on the same page throughout the design process. Additionally, since materials might come from multiple different places, they should always be documented in a shared space for future reference.
Lastly, initial design feedback should always be collected from all the stakeholders and concerned parties so that the design could be revised, if required, in time and the final design could be created and implemented without any delays.
Once the design is created, approved, and pushed forward, the development teams prepare for validation through testing before the product launch.
One of the most important stages of new product development, this phase involves testing the quality of the product with multiple tests.
Issues while developing the concept, i.e., software development or initial prototype development, are identified and teams and beat testers evaluate the product for quality issues.
Then, front-end testing is carried out. This step involves testing the front-end functionality for risks with development code or any consumer-facing errors. After this step is completed, the marketing strategy is tested for functionality and errors.
After testing is completed, the development teams move forward with the production of the final product concept and launch it to the target audience.
6. Product Development and Launch
The time and stage to commercialize the product has come. In this phase, the business develops and launches its product and puts it on its website for users to experience it.
The product is developed keeping in mind and referring to the product specifics and design documents. Production or additional development might be required for software concepts. The development teams are handed over the final prototype and MVP iterations to produce the product as per the specifications.
Then e-commerce materials are transitioned to a live state, as required depending on the nature of the product. This is followed by testing to see the live product’s functioning and if some changes are required.
After this, the product finally gets a market launch, and the business waits for the first reactions and positive responses.
Established names such as Airbnb, Figma, Uber, etc., followed the standard product development process to develop and introduce their products to the world. Currently, their products are soaring high in the market, winning hearts and earning big bucks.
Let’s understand the importance further by looking at some brand journeys as they develop and launch new products.
Product journeys of Airbnb and PepsiCo. :
Airbnb, for example, tested its product idea for peer-to-peer rental housing online. They posted the details of their apartment, offering it as a short-term rental. The viability of their product idea was proved when multiple users signed up to stay in the founders’ homes.
However, PepsiCo made a serious mistake when they introduced the new soda, Crystal Pepsi. They marketed it as healthier than their other soft drinks. The company could not validate its concept before its market launch. Therefore, due to a lack of early feedback from the target audience or a soft launch for validation of the product with early adopters, the product was a huge failure.
Thus, it is important to develop and market a product with complete market research, by studying the target audience and following the standard product development process with certain revisions and add-ons based on the business and project requirements.
Who Is Involved in the Product Development Process?
It takes an army of tech, IT, and design professionals to build a product. The project manager leads the team and oversees product development tasks such as ideation, research, development, and launch.
The rest of the team includes:
Product Manager: Supervising the entire product lifecycle, a product manager is the point of contact between internal and external teams. He/she initiates new product launches and ideation as well as market research.
Project Manager: A project manager facilitates cross-departmental communication. Additionally, they assist with task delegation and goal tracking.
UI/UX Design Experts: Supporting the visual concept of the product, UI/UX designers help the product development team with prototyping and designing the product.
Dedicated Development Team:This team is behind the implementation of the product on the client’s website. This team develops the product and deploys it as well.
Marketing Team: This team is responsible for promoting the product through an effective marketing strategy as well as testing the same before the product goes live. They also track the success of these strategies and see what needs to be done to reach a wider audience.
Sales Team: This team works in collaboration with the product manager and works out some effective sales strategies.
The product might be requiring final approval by the senior management before its launch. In addition, some other teams might also be involved indirectly such as finance, engineering, etc.
Thus, the product development process involves steps and stages that facilitate the standardization of procedures and streamlines the entire task. A business and development team might make some non-functional revisions or changes or adopt new, different approaches for each step; however, the structure more or less remains the same.
A successful product development process requires discipline, teamwork, and clearly defined product requirements and project scope.
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Q1. What are the common disadvantages of the Product Development Process?
Some common disadvantages of the product development process are: 1. External factors such as shipping of materials, supplier deliveries, etc. might cause a delay in the process 2. Even with all the market research and adoption of standard procedures, the product can turn out to be a failure in the market. 3. Businesses can set unrealistic expectations or unachievable timelines. 4. Ever-evolving market conditions might hamper the product’s utility and viability after the entire development process is complete.