Product development is a complicated process with many phases, but you don’t have to be an expert product developer to know where your product fits in. If you’re not sure what phase of product development you are in and how to define your needs at every phase, check out this article for more information!
What is a product development process?
A product development process is the set of steps that product companies go through to design, create, and launch a product. The product will probably go through multiple phases before it’s ready for market, including new product development stages like concept testing, prototype building and pre-production planning. While these are all specific parts of the entire product development cycle, each product will probably go through its own product development process based on the company’s needs and goals.
The product development process is lengthy that involves several phases, but most products go through the same stages.
What are the product development phases?
There are many product development phases. But you can usually divide them into 5 main stages: idea generation, concept development, design and engineering, testing and evaluation, and marketing and sales.
1. Idea generation
This step is all about generating ideas and developing the product concept. At this point, the product doesn’t even exist yet. It’s just an idea on paper or inside someone’s head. However, there are many things that need to be considered at this phase so that later phases go smoothly! Here are some product development ideas that you may want to consider at this phase:
The product’s purpose: How will the product be used? Will it solve a problem or make something easier? What is its primary function?
The product’s target audience: Who will use the product? What are their needs and wants?
Competition: Are there similar ideas in your market or is your idea unique? What do others do with similar products? Is it worth trying to try this idea?
Marketing and sales: How can you sell this product to the right market once it’s complete? Will there be a demand for it, or will no one want to buy it? Do you have any experience selling products like these in the past?
Price: How much will your product cost? It’s important to consider this as early as possible. So you can stay on budget. And not needlessly spend time designing features if they won’t fit into the product price range.
2. Concept development
Once you have an idea of what you want to create, the next step is concept development. This phase typically includes creating a product design and planning for how it will be manufactured or created. Here are some things that product developers may consider at this stage:
Product features: What product features will you include in your design? Will it have a unique selling point or function that differentiates it from other products? For example, maybe there’s an app that allows users to hail rides with their phone. Your product development team could think of a product that allows users to hail rides with their car!
Materials: What product materials will you use? Will the product design require an expensive material that makes it unaffordable? Or can you use a more inexpensive product to make your product development process more cost-effective?
Product design: How will the product look and function? What size or shape should it be? What product features will the product have so that it’s effective and user-friendly?
Feasibility: Can your team create the product? Will it work in real life or just on paper? Once you’ve developed your product concept, is there a way to create this product with realistic materials actually and at an affordable cost?
Target market: Who are you designing for, and what do they need from your product? Is there a product like this already on the market, and if so, what can you do better?
Competition: How will your product stack up against competition in the market? What are its competitors doing that works well for them? What product features do your competitors offer that your product should have?
You need to consider these product development questions and more at this phase.
3. Design and engineering
The product design and engineering phase of product development is where a product takes shape in the physical world. It’s important that your product development team work together to decide on product features and how the product will function. At this phase, there are so many decisions to be made!
Here are some product development ideas that product developers may consider during this phase:
Product development cost: How much money should you spend on product design? And how much to spend in marketing and research to make sure that it is a viable product in its current state? This phase of product development is all about creating a working prototype so you can test your product before product development goes into full production.
Product materials: What product material do you want to use? Fabric, plastic, metal, or a combination of materials?
Production methods: What product manufacturing methods will you use to create the product? Will artisans handcraft it or will it be mass-produced by machine?
Product functions & features: What product functions or product features will the product have? Will these make it effective and easy to use?
Marketing and product launch: How will you market your product to the public? What image do you want people who see your product to have of it? How will you handle product development and how long do you think product launch to last?
Competition: What product features do your product’s competitors have that you should include in the design? How will your product stack up against competition?
This phase of product development is where you make all the product design decisions, and it’s crucial to product development success.
4. Testing and evaluation
Testing and product evaluation are all about ensuring that the product design will actually work. Here are some product development questions to consider at this stage:
Product design: How will the product development team go about testing your product design? Will they test the product in a lab, on an assembly line, or will product users test it?
Product function: What product functions and product features need to be tested so that the product is effective and user-friendly?
User product evaluations: What product features do people who use the product like or dislike? How can you use this information to improve the product design?
Quality product assurance: How will you assess product quality? What product testing methods are used to ensure that the product is safe and effective for product users?
This product development phase is all about testing your product. So that you can make sure it’s safe for product users and will actually work.
5. Marketing and sales
After product development, this phase is where the product goes from being made to actually reaching product users. Here are some product development questions you should consider at product launch:
Vendor relations: How are product users going to receive the product? Are they sold through a retailer or vendor, distributed by the product company, or sold on a website?
Product promotion: How will you promote the product to users so that they know about it and want to purchase it?
Product launch: How will you manage product development and how long do you expect product launch to last?
Marketing strategy: How can you market your product to attract customers or users? Will you market it as a luxury item, an everyday purchase, or something else entirely?
Do you want to learn more about product development? Then, we recommend you read our article Product Development: Creating A Brilliant Product.
Why should you know what product development phase you are in?
Knowing what product development phase you’re in is important. To explain, it will help you determine how to manage product development and figure out where you stand. For example, product development might not be going well if you’re in product launch and product users aren’t buying your product.
Also, knowing where you are in product development, you can take steps to get where you want to be. For example, product design might not include product features people like if the product development team didn’t ask product users about product features.
Knowing what product development phase you’re in and how to get where you want to be will help your product company grow. How? Knowing at which of the product development phases you are in makes you able to identify challenges.
By identifying product development challenges and problems at each product development phase, you will be able to make the changes needed for your company’s success.
Product development phases: Which phase are you in?
How to know at which one of the product development phases you are in? Well, you need to identify where you are. But how?
You can break the product development phases down into five parts. These are product design, product function testing and evaluation, quality product assurance, marketing and sales.
It is easy to find at which of the product development phase you are in. You just have to ask yourself what operations you are making right now.
For example, if you have no product development process yet, then you are in the idea generation phase. If your product development team is designing the product and you don’t involve product users, then you’re in the product design phase.
Or, if the product development team is testing product design, then you’re in the product testing and evaluation phase.
Do you involve product users at this stage of product development and are they testing the features of the product? Then you’re in the product testing and evaluation phase.
Also, if you have a product ready to market, then your product is in the product marketing and sales phase.
And seeing at which product development phase you are in will help you take the right next steps on product development and product company growth.
Product development phases: Common Pitfalls?
So, product development phases are important to understand because you have to know at which product development phase your product is in.
But there can be pitfalls during the product development phases. For example, product design could be flawed if you do not involve product users in the product development process.
Or product marketing and sales can fail product company growth if you don’t have a product marketing strategy.
Also, the product development team might not be able to carry out product testing and evaluation stage of product development. And this can easily happen if they don’t have clear product function requirements.
And product development phases can fail because there are no clear product requirements. Or product development phases fail if the product team doesn’t clearly understand what product users want.
And knowing at which product development phase you are in this process will help you determine pitfalls. So, you can soon deal with them, before it is too late.
How to avoid common pitfalls in the product development phases?
Staying product development focused: product design and product function testing is a must.
If you’re not focusing on product development, then your product development will suffer.
For example, product design is important because your product development team will make product design decisions, which impact your product’s cost and performance.
Also, product function testing is important because it ensures the product development team is making the product users will love.
By staying focused, operating correctly product design and product function testing, you can avoid product development pitfalls.
The product development phases are important to understand. This is because product developers need to know which product development phase their product is in. So they can take the right next steps. Also, you should take product design and product function testing seriously, as these two stages of product development have negative affects your company’s success, if not done correctly.
Also, there can be flaws during the product development phases. To explain, these could be flaws with product design or marketing. Or they could be flaws such as sales failing when you don’t clearly understand what your customers want from your product. Staying focused on product design and product function testing is key to avoid common pitfalls.
Are you looking for a product developer or a product development engineer? Don’t you know what skills should one have? Then, we recommend you read our article Product Development Engineer: Why Do You Need One?