The product development process is an important part of product management. It can be a long and arduous journey, but it’s worth every minute. In this article, we will discuss the product development stages, how to proceed and what you should expect from each stage. The product development process begins with idea generation and ends when the product reaches market readiness to go live for sale.
What is a Product Development Process?
The product development process is a product management technique that provides guidance for steps to take when developing and launching new products. This defines the various stages of product development in order to help you stay on track throughout your product’s life cycle.
What are the 7 stages in the product development process?
There are 7 main product development stages: idea generation, idea screening, concept development & testing, market strategy/business analysis, creating a model, market testing, and market entry/commercialization.
Thought, there is another product development process someone could follow. Therefore, we recommend you also read our article Product Development: Creating A Brilliant Product.
What to consider before going to the product development stages?
Before you jump into product development, there are some things that need to be accounted for. Let’s find out what these are.
Is there a demand for the product?
Before product development, you need to make sure there is a market for the product. If not, no one will want it and this whole idea will be useless. Make sure there is a product/market fit before you even consider product development. If the product does not solve pain points, it will not be successful.
Can your team produce it?
Even if the product solves a problem, you need to consider whether they can produce it. Products that you cannot manufacture will not be successful. In product development, you need to make sure you can produce the product in a cost-effective manner and without sacrificing quality or much time.
How can the product reach its customers?
Before you move to the product development stages, you need to find out how your potential customers can reach and want the product. In product development, you will also want to consider where you will sell the product. Make sure the product can actually reach its customers and that there is a channel to sell it through.
What competition will it have?
Even if the product is great, there is always competition. You must consider how strong it will be and whether your product can beat that of the competition. In product development, you must prepare yourself for this and know how your product will stand out from the rest of them in order to succeed.
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Do you have the necessary financial resources?
You will need money for all the product development stages. You must see if you have enough to invest. If not, find alternative options or wait until you have enough money to start product development. In product management, you must consider the financial aspects of product development in order for your idea to become a reality.
What is the goal of the Product Development Process Stages?
The product development process stage’s goal is to guide you through the product journey. They will help you stay on track and develop a product that is successful in the market.
Product development stage 1: Idea Generation
The intention of product development at this stage is to generate new product ideas. You can do this through market research, customer surveys, or brainstorming sessions with the team. You can also consider product extensions or product line extensions.
Product development stage 2: Idea Screening
In product development, this is the stage where you will determine which product ideas are worth pursuing. You need to check all the criteria that were outlined before, such as product-market fit and financial feasibility.
Product development stage 3: Concept Development & Testing
During product development, you will work on product features and specifications. You can do this with your target customers to test the product idea before going further into product development. You can also test product features with your target market before you move to the next stages of product development.
Product development stage 4: Market Strategy/Business Analysis
The goal of this product development stage is to analyze the market strategy, competition, and overall business. It will also look at how product features can be implemented in the product development stages.
Product development stage 5: Creating A Model
The product development process stages will also require you to create a product model. This involves product developers and engineers who need to know the product features, product specifications, and product requirements for product development. At this the stage, you will also create a pilot production product. You will need to test and analyze product quality and product design before starting this process.
Product development stage 6: Market Testing
The goal of product development here is to test the product in real-life conditions. You can do this through product trials with customers, beta testing, or product test marketing. You can also use product trials with your team to determine product development problems and product development challenges that need to be addressed through product optimization and product enhancement.
Product development stage 7: Market Entry/Commercialization
The purpose of this product development stage is to complete product features and prepare the product for launch. It will also include preparing product marketing, pricing strategies, and product distribution. The goal of product development at this stage is to launch the product and make sure customers know about it.
How to proceed to the 7 product development stages?
You can proceed to product development by going through these product development stages in order. You must consider each stage in product management and product marketing for product development to be successful.
Creating new products or services may be a rough road. However, businesses may benefit from applying these product development stages in their process.
So, let’s see what you need to do at each stage of the product development process.
Product development stage 1: Idea Generation
The first step of the product development stages is idea generation. In this product development stage, product developers can get new product ideas from different resources. In this stage, consider 4 issues that will help you get going.
1. Market research
The first thing you need to do is market research. In product development, product developers need to know what the market wants. This will help them in idea generation and developing a product that can address their needs.
In product development, product developers seek to address a certain need or solve a specific problem. In the first product development stage, product developers should consider product features that can address this market need.
So, in product development, you must conduct a thorough market research to get ideas for the product features.
2. Customer Surveys
In the second step of the product development stages, consider surveying customers. Customers may provide ideas for new products or services they need. So, you need to consider product development ideas based on the customer’s needs.
For this purpose, you can conduct product surveys. You should also consider product features that customers are looking for.
Here, you can use different tools to conduct customer surveys or product research.
3. Brainstorming Sessions
You should also conduct brainstorming sessions with your team. During this and other product development stages, you can get new ideas from team members and other product developers.
You should consider product development ideas based on competitors’ products or features, emerging technologies and product trends (e.g., product feature trends).
4. Emphasize on Customer Problems
At all the product development stages, proceed with the customer in mind. Especially here, you need to have the customer and his problems in mind. So, you need to find their needs, problems and pains, so you can brainstorm an idea that fits them perfectly. This way, you will not have to worry if your product is successful, as it will sell as crazy.
In the process of solving a problem, you need to define it. This is because a problem that is well described is a half-solved issue. Here’s how to figure out what problems the target audience is having:
a. Customer Problems
Here and during the product development stages, you need to have in mind the personal problems your potential customers might face. So, consider product features that can help them overcome these problems.
b. Qualify Each of the Listed Problems
Here, you need to qualify each of the problems they list in order to understand what is really important for their potential customers.
Inspecting each of these components in further depth can provide more clarity. So, you need to define what kind of problem this is.
- Unavoidable: Is the problem a product that, because it is unavoidable, becomes compulsory to comply with? It’s critical to know if resolving that issue is a choice or an obligation.
- Unworkable: Determine whether the proposed product ideas would be viable. Will the product be able to fulfill existing customer needs and will it achieve product-market fit?
- Underserved: Is it possible that there are no additional goods to solve the existing user issues? Look for places where there is a lot of white space in the market and keep an open mind about what appears promising.
- Urgent: What is the urgency of the problem and does a solution exist that the target market desires? If the answer is yes, this might be an opportunity to fill the market white space with the first product.
c. Coming Up With Potential Solutions
The next thing you need to do in the product development stages is to come up with potential solutions to the problems your product targets have.
So, here you need to consider product development ideas that would solve these user issues or problems.
During this product development stage, consider product features that can solve the customer problems and issues of your product targets. In this way, you will come up with product ideas that are perfect for your target audience.
You should also consider product features based on customer needs, problems and pains.
D. Narrowing Down Problems & Solutions
Then, you need to make a comparison chart which includes the lists of all the listed issues, along with their solutions. Share the findings across the organization. That way, many people can work together to figure out what problem and solution set is best for your business goals.
In case your idea does not convince the people who decide about what you do, you can try another approach. These approaches are actually about taking one of your competitor’s products or ideas, and then making it better and sell it as your own.
- Replicate: This means to create a product like the other products that your competitors have made. The goal of this phase is to establish a firm foundation for the company. The strategy should be to build on that success by adding out-of-the-box product improvements.
- Re-Purpose: This technique is about modifying or rebuilding an existing business model. LinkedIn, for example, introduced an e-learning platform for professionals, LinkedIn Learning. They developed new possibilities for expanding the target audience and market share by developing an e-learning platform for pupils.
- Upgrading: The goal here is to introduce a new business model that is superior to existing options. Superior shows enhanced performance, faster speed, addressing the problems that a competitor is facing, or introducing new capabilities.
The product development process stages can be very detailed and complex. So you need to consider different issues at each stage of the product development process.
Product development stage 2: Idea Screening
The next one of the product development stages is idea screening. This process is to narrow down the ideas and solutions generated in product development stage one.
This phase requires having gathered the best product features, designing the product, and developing a plan to get along.
1. Product Design
In product design, you need to draw a preliminary layout for the product. In this product development stage, you should also identify user interaction and flow and features that would help the product function.
It is important to have an idea about how your product would look and feel before you build it, so that you can ensure that it is something customers would love.
2. Marketing Strategy Development
In product development stage two, you should also develop a marketing plan that is in line with the business goals. This will help to determine how much money you would need and how much you can sell your product for.
You should also consider the marketing plan based on the target audience and the positioning strategy.
3. Business Analysis
In the second phase of the product development stages, you should also focus on your business model. You need to consider things like revenue and cost structure, pricing strategy, sales channels.
You need to consider these things so that you can develop your business model in a way where you can make more money than you spend.
4. Development Costs
Here, you should also consider planning your budget to create a product. This would include things like engineering costs and manufacturing.
Product development stage 3: Concept Development & Testing
The next one of the product development stages is concept development. This phase requires developing a concept design and testing it with customers to see if they would buy the product.
Here, you need to go through some steps.
1. Quantifying Gain/Pain Ratio
The first step is to estimate the product’s target customer by quantifying the gain/pain ratio. This would help you understand how much your customers would benefit from your product.
You can also use the gain/pain ratio to create a short and long-term business model, where you can determine where you would find the product, how you will sell it, and who your target customers are.
The gain/pain ratio is also helpful to give you an idea about the product’s size, how many customers are available and what would they pay for.
You need to collect all this information before you move any further to the product development stages.
2. Conducting a Competitor Analysis
Here, you need to conduct a competitor analysis and find out what your competitors are doing. You need to look at the products they offer and compare them with yours.
This would help you figure out if your product is more competitive than theirs, and how much more value it offers to the customers.
Here, you also need to consider your product’s pricing plan and how it would differ from your competitors.
3. Enlisting the Major Product Features
The next step is to list the major product features that will allow your product to stand out. These are some of the important things you need to consider in these product development stages.
You need to prioritize these features and start developing them, so that you can build a prototype of your product.
You need to ensure that you have included all the possible features of your product before testing it with customers.
4. Create a Value Proposition Chart
Creating a value proposition chart would help you determine how your product will be different from the competitors.
This is a very important step in the product development stages, as this would help you determine how your product can benefit the customers.
You need to identify what will be unique about each of your product features and how it would help the customers.
This step is very important, as it will also give you an idea about your target customers.
5. Concept Testing
Once you have created a value proposition chart, it’s time to test your product concept. You need to create an MVP for this purpose.
You need to test your product with real customers, so that you can get their feedback. So, you can take help from focus groups or surveys for this purpose.
This step is very important because it will help you determine if your product is something that the customers are looking for. It would also show you how you can improve it.
This would help you determine if your product is viable and what needs to be changed in the concept.
Product development stage 4: Market Strategy/Business Analysis
The next of the product development stages is market strategy/business analysis. This step requires you to perform a feasibility study on your business plan and find out where you stand.
This is a very important step in these product development stages. To explain, it will help you determine if your idea is workable and what needs to be done to make it a success.
In this step, you need to analyze your competition and find out how much they are offering in the same segment.
To price your product in these product development stages, you need to follow 2 simple steps.
1. Cost-Based Pricing Model
Here, you need to determine your product’s production cost and add a profit margin. This would give you the price for your product in these product development stages.
The most important thing here is that you need to ensure that your product’s price is lower than the competition, to attract customers.
You can also use this model for product bundling, so you need to package your products in such a way to offer a better price.
2. Market-Focused Pricing Model
This is a market-driven pricing model in these product development stages. This means that you need to consider the demand of your product in the market and its competition.
You also need to consider the prices of your competitors before finalizing this step in these product development stages. This is because it would help you determine your product’s price.
The following are some factors to consider when determining a competitive price:
- Price Below Market: Lower pricing is preferable to attract consumers who may be converted into loyal buyers over time, even if the new product solves problems differently.
- Copy Market: It is at least more risky to sell the new product for the same cost as your competitors. However, in order to outperform the competitor, marketing efforts would need to be increased.
- Price Above Market: The higher price is ideal for carrying out product development projects that address a pressing consumer need.
Product development stage 5: Creating A Model
The next one in the product development stage is creating an actual model. You need to create a functional prototype or visual model of your product.
This step is very important because it allows you to test your product in these product development stages before its launch. It is also a great way to present your product in front of the investors.
In this step, you need to ensure that your model is compatible with the required platforms. You also need to add the necessary functions in your product so that customers can use it with no difficulties.
In the product development stage, you also need to focus on the functionality of your model. This is because it would help you determine if there are any issues with your product and how your team can deal with them.
This is one of the product development stages that burdens your product engineer, mostly.
A prototype is a visual model of your product in these product development stages. It gives you the opportunity to present your idea and convince investors of its feasibility. In this step of the product development stages, your product engineer builds a prototype from scratch and tests different materials you can use. He follows a very complicated process to make sure your final product meets all the requirements.
This step is very important for product development because it helps you get your idea off the ground. In addition, this would help you get valuable feedback from the people who will use your product in these product development stages.
People also know this step as a proof-of-concept, which is a great way to assess the market in these product development stages.
You also need to ensure that your prototype works perfectly, so as not to disappoint your investors.
You need to keep a few things in mind while creating a prototype:
The first step of this product development stage involves collecting the requirements of your product.
It is important to know what you want in these product development stages, to create a perfect prototype for your product.
You also need to consider the technical capabilities of your team, as well as their budget constraints. This is because it would determine how you can create your product in these product development stages.
You also need to consider the timeline of this project and its budget, so that you can create your product accordingly.
You also need to ensure that your team created the prototype in such a way to be useful for people with disabilities.
2. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
An MVP is usually the first version of your product in these product development stages. It helps you get valuable feedback about how people will perceive your final product.
The major benefit of MVP is that it allows you to see how people are responding in these product development stages, without spending too much money.
In this product development stage, you need to make sure that your product is in a position where the people who will use it can test it. This is because you do not want to miss any crucial feedback that can help you improve your product in these product development stages.
3. Detailed Design
When you are creating an MVP, it is important to ensure that your product has a detailed design. This means you have thought out and designed all the functions of your product in the product development stages.
During this stage, you need to put a lot of emphasis on your customer’s needs and the features of your product. You also need to make sure that your team is getting all the information in these product development stages so that you can create a perfect product.
This is one of the most remarkable steps in these product development stages, as it involves designing your final product. This is because it would help you determine the level of detail that your product needs.
4. Validation/ Testing
Once you have created your product, it is important to test its functionality before launching into the market. This would help you identify any bugs which you can fix in these product development stages.
In this stage of the product development process, your team will make sure that all the features of the product work perfectly. This is because there might be some function which may not meet your requirements in these product development stages.
It is important to test your product before the launch, as it will help you identify any issues with the design or functionality of your final product.
Here, you make sure they create proper documentations of the issues and feedback as well.
Product development stage 6: Market Testing & Revising The Model
This is one of the final product development stages in this process.
Here, you need to determine how your customers perceive the last form of your product. This is because it will help you identify any issues that people might have with your product to fix them.
1. Customer testing
This product development stage involves testing your final product with the customers who will use it. This is because you need to ensure that they like and understand your final product before you launch in the market.
In this stage, it is important to identify the issues that people might have with your product. This is because it will help you identify whether any changes need to be done in your product to make it more appealing.
2. Revise the model
After you have tested the product with customers and for validation in these product development stages, it is extremely important to revise your prototype.
This means that you need to fix the bugs that your team has identified in this product development stage.
This is one of the most important steps in these product development stages, as it will help you fix any errors.
You also need to make sure that your product is ready for its launch, as this should be your final product to take to production.
Product development stage 7: Production & Market Entry
The last one of the product development stages is taking your product to production and prepare your market.
In this stage, you need to make sure that your supervisors and experts have approved the last design of your product for production and marketing.
This is because, after this stage, there will be no chance of changing your product. This means that you need to consider these product development stages before you approach this stage.
Once you have the last design of your product, it is important to produce several products. This refers to a small or a greater number of your product that you can release to the market.
This is one of the most critical product development stages, as you need to make sure that your production system works.
You also need to determine how long it will take your manufacturer to produce the desired amount of products.
2. Marketing the Concept Over Product
Once you have sent your design to production, it is important to move on to the next step of your product development stages. This is because you need to market your product while you send it for production.
You need to have prepared your target audience and market for your new product release. So, they look forward to your product launch.
This is because it will help you make a strong brand image and awareness of your product.
2. Creating a Brand Voice
In the final product development stages, you also need to create a brand voice. This refers to a distinct set of characteristics that make your products and services unique.
This is one of the most important product development stages, as it will help you set your brand apart from others in the market. You also need to make sure that your brand voice is clear and consistent throughout all interactions with the customer.
Now it’s clear that any business that produces products needs a product development engineer. But what does one do? If you don’t know, then we recommend you read our article Product Development Engineer: Why Do You Need One?
Product Development Stages: Last Notes
These product development stages are extremely important to follow. This is because they will help you take your product from an idea to the market professionally.
This means that you will offer a final product, which is in line with your initial idea and expectations of the customer.
In addition, these product development stages will help you produce a quality product that is ready to be released on the market. This means that it has already been tested and revised, to avoid all the possible errors.
It is extremely important to follow these product development stages step by step in order to offer a product that your customer is looking for.