Product development can be a fascinating yet overwhelming job. We use different products on a daily basis without giving a thought to how they come into existence. There are different elements, processes, and stages that form a product. This article aims to explain the important stages or steps involved in product development. These stages ensure a smooth and efficient development process and final product.
What is Product Development?
Product development is a pretty self-explanatory process that states the process of forming and taking a product to the market. It discusses the development of a product and often the renewal of an existing or old product and commercializing it. The process of development involves different stages, which we shall discuss later. Product development is an integral part of product design and finishes only when the product reaches the market and its expiration date. It goes on until the product lifecycle is not over because it involves constant feedback and iteration. Improvement and enhancement of user feedback are crucial parts of the process.
What are the Different Stages of Product Development?
A product development process comprises six steps primarily. Companies can choose to augment, modify, and alter these steps according to their needs, finances, and limitations. The basic blueprint of product development includes the following stages.
1. Idea Building or Formation
It is the first step of product development, where the product development team comes up with different ideas regarding the new product. This brainstorming and idea conception stage produces ideas for new products based on customer requirements, market needs, competitors, employee feedback, etc. Businesses usually source new ideas from their surroundings or analysis of the market and industry. The market and company research generates technical research-based ideas which form the basis of forthcoming product development stages.
Screening is an integral part of the entire development process because it strains or filters out good ideas from the bad. The generated ideas are filtered, and the most viable, feasible, or doable ones are chosen. The viability of ideas depends on internal and external factors. These factors are competition, market conditions, legislation, technological provisions, changes in technology, inflation, finances, taxation laws, duties, employee expertise, etc. Screening also involves seeking opinions from internal and external stakeholders. By the end of this stage, only viable and sound ideas are kept, and the unfeasible ideas are discarded or kept for later use.
3. Concept Development
During the concept-building stage, the organization conducts the necessary research regarding costs, revenue, profits, and ROI coming from the product. At this stage, the company also performs the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to study market conditions and their relationship to the company and technology. The company analyses the target market at this point to study potential customer segments of the market. Market segmentation forms the basis of commercialization or product rollout as it decides the niche and customer persona. Based on the identified niche, important marketing decisions are formed.
The goal of prototyping is to manifest a basic version of the final product, which carries all the necessary and functional features and capabilities of the actual product. The prototype is created to test the final product in a limited setting while making sure the end product is fit for mass production. It is highly unlikely that companies will produce a finished and perfect product in a single attempt. Prototyping is step-wise progress toward the final product, which involves lots of experimentation with different versions of the final product. It eliminates options for less viable products and helps to land a final sample for the audience. It is sometimes known as a minimum viable product (MVP) too.
5. Product Development
After the success and results of experimentation from prototyping, developers produce the actual design of the product. In this phase, large-scale production of the final product may take place before finally rolling it out to the audience.
6. Commercialization and Rollout
It is the last step of the digital products development process, where after large-scale production, the product is ready for rolling out to the market. Promotion campaigns are made to boost marketing efforts and to influence the product launch.
Often people consider commercialization as the last stage of product development, but we believe the important part still remains. The company should track and measure the success of the product and constantly improve the product based on audience reviews. It is the key to perfection and company success.