New product development is exciting but also very challenging. From ideation, through research and prototyping, no release is exactly the same. However, there is a general system that can help you start the process of developing a product.
The product development process has six steps necessary to take a product from initial concept to market launch. They include identifying market needs, researching the competition, ideating a solution, developing a product roadmap, and developing a minimum viable product (MVP).
In recent years, the product development process has evolved and is now commonly applied as divided into six separate phases. This layout is very useful to better organize the process and separate individual deliverables into smaller tasks.
In addition to serving to simplify a launch, the product development process favors collaboration between different teams, since teamwork and communications come first.
- The generation of the idea (ideation).
The initial stage of the product development process begins with the generation of ideas for the new product. The initial ideation stage involves brainstorming product concepts based on customer needs, pricing, and market research.
To start the conception of a new product, it is convenient to take into account the following factors:
Target market: The target market is the profile of the consumer for whom you make the product. It is very important to identify it from the beginning to develop the concept of the product-oriented to that target market.
Products that already exist: Once you have the concept of the new product, it is a very good idea to evaluate the portfolio of the products that you already have. Are there products that solve a similar problem? If so, is a new concept different enough to be viable? By answering these questions you can ensure the success of your new concept development.
Functionality: While it is true that you do not yet need to have a detailed report of the functionality of the product, you should have a general idea of what functions it will serve. Also, think about what the product looks like and why someone would want to buy it.
SWOT Analysis: Analyzing the product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats early in the process can help you develop a better version of the new concept. In this way, you will ensure that the product is different from the competition and that it is the solution to a gap in the market.
SCAMPER Method: To perfect the idea, apply brainstorming methods such as SCAMPER, which consists of replacing, combining, adapting, modifying, repurposing, eliminating, or rearranging the product concept.
To validate a product concept, consider documenting ideas in the form of a business case. It will give team members a clear understanding of what the initial product features were and what the new product launch goals were.
- Product definition.
Once you have finalized the business case and have analyzed the target market and the functionality of the product, it is time to define the product. The definition is also known as concept or scope development and focuses on refining the product strategy.
During this stage, it is very important to define the specific details of the case, including the following:
Business analysis: A business analysis consists of establishing distribution and eCommerce strategies, and carrying out a deeper analysis of the competition. The purpose of this step is to start building a clearly defined product roadmap.
Value proposition: The value proposition is the problem that is solved with the product. Think about what makes it different from other products on the market. This value can be useful for market research and developing a marketing strategy.
Success metrics: In order to be able to evaluate and measure success once the product is launched, it will be essential to be clear about the success metrics. Are there key metrics you want to look at? They could be basic KPIs like average order value or something more specific like custom goals important within your organization.
- Development of the prototype.
During the prototyping stage, the team will thoroughly research and document the product creating a detailed business plan and building the product.
Prototypes, in the early stages, can be as simple as a drawing or something more complex like a computer reproduction of the initial design. These prototypes help you identify areas at risk before you create the product.
During the prototyping stage, you will work with specific details such as:
Market risk research: It is very important to analyze any potential risks associated with the production of the item before physically creating it. This will prevent the launch from being thwarted later on. It will also help you remember to communicate the risks to the team, as they will be documented in a risk register.
The development strategy: Next, you can start working with the development plan. In other words, you will understand how tasks will be assigned and what the schedule of those tasks will be. One way you can plan tasks and estimate what the schedule will be is by applying the critical path method.
Feasibility Analysis: The next step in the process is to evaluate the strategy for the product based on feasibility. Determine if the amount of work and the estimated schedule are really possible to meet. If not, modify the dates as appropriate and ask for help and the participation of other members.
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP): The end result of the prototyping stage is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Think of the MVP as a product that has the necessary characteristics to present it in a launch and that has nothing that exceeds what is strictly necessary for it to work. For example, an MVP bike may have a bike frame, wheels, and a seat, but may not have a bell or basket. By creating an MVP you can help the team build all the desired features and avoid delaying the release schedule. The other desired functions can be added later when there is time availability and productive capacity.