When you have a business to run, one of the most important parts of the entire process is the making of new products. After all, at the end of the day, it is the products that people remember you for. If you want your business to be a real success, then you need to know how to properly execute the development of a product. For a business to enjoy any kind of long-term success, you need to be able to put out new products at least every few years. When you do put those products out, you of course want them to be original and unique to your business. That much goes without saying. However, many business owners often struggle with the actual process of developing a product. The truth is, there is a real science to it which you would do well to learn as well as possible. Thus your business is likely to experience a greater number of customers enjoying your products. Without further ado, then, let’s take a look at the entire process of product development, from start to finish.
In order to be able to put a product on the market, you first need to carry out some research. This is for a number of reasons, each one as vital as the last. First of all, you want to ensure that there is actually a market for your intended product. There are two ways of going about this. Either you can think of an idea for a product first, and then research to see whether it will find a place in the market. This is the most common way of doing things, and it has certain benefits. However, there is another way, which might actually prove to be more effective. With the other method, you first research to try and find problems which don’t yet have solutions. You know that the product you are developing will definitely gather some interest, as it is answering a call which you have identified. This is probably more effective, as it allows you to know that your product will at least be partially successful. As such, it won’t prove to be a waste of time. The business world is full of examples of companies finding unique solutions to things. Take a look at this Hampton Creek piece in LA Times for a great example of what we’re talking about here. Ultimately, this stage is essential for the success of the product. Make sure you put the necessary effort and time into getting it right.
Once you are absolutely certain that your product has a place in the market, then it is time to start development proper. It is this stage which begins the actual process of developing the product into a real thing. It is a good idea at this point to hold a meeting with everybody who is likely to be involved in the process. At this point, you can open the floor to ensure that everybody who wants to be heard is heard. This makes sure that everyone involved gets a chance to get their point across. This is important because it might be the only opportunity for everyone to be in the same room in this way. It is important not to rush this stage. Any mistakes made at this stage, however minor, will have huge consequences further down the line. So it is vital that you do everything in your power to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Part of that must include not rushing anything. If there are any problems at the prototype stage, deal with them immediately. At the end of this stage, you should have your first prototype. This is a great part of the process ,as everyone can see the product in all its glory for the first time.
Now that you have a prototype, it is time to test it. There are a few different aspects to this, and we will go through them individually. First of all is the engineering side of things. It is important to test how the product actually functions at this point. Any mistakes will be mirrored in the final product, so this can’t be rushed. Make sure that the engineering team push the product to its limits when they are checking it for issues. Next up you have the focus group testing. This is an opportunity for you to hear some feedback from the general public about your new product. This is an essential part of the whole journey. For one thing, it allows you to discover whether or not it seems as though your product will actually sell decently. What’s more, it gives you a chance to hear what people honestly think about the product. It is important that you keep your brand name out of these discussions. Otherwise, the individuals in question might be swayed by their pre-existing notions of your brand. Of course, if you also want to hear their opinion on your brand, you can ask them at the end of the session. It is a good idea to record these sessions. They can form the backbone of future development, and as such they can be invaluable retargets.
Once you have put the prototype through its initial testing phases, it is time to work on developing a final prototype. Bear in mind that this is not a final product, but a final prototype. There will still probably be work to be done after this stage, so it is unlikely to be completely finished. During this stage, make sure that all the feedback from the testing stage is taken on board. Now is a good time to get someone to head the entire operation. It is often at this point that things can go desperately wrong, so be sure to keep an eye out. In the development of the final prototype, take care to get it as close to the final product as possible. That way, feedback will be much more useful for you in the long run.
At this point, you will have the final prototype in your hands. Now is a good time to start producing a few other prototypes. That way, you have more than one that you can hand round to different people. For example, it is a good idea to give one to the head of engineering. Similarly, the head of design and development should have one to refer to. Having a final prototype is often an exciting place to be. More than anything, it signals the facts that you are nearing the end of the entire process. Provided, that is, that the next couple of stages go to plan.
Now that you have a fully working final prototype, it is time to put it through design validation. This is an often rigorous process during which every aspect of the product is fully tested. At this point, you are checking to see whether it actually does what it is meant to. However, there is much more to it than that. You are also looking for evidence of any long-term issues which might potentially arise. As such, you should make sure that you have your best people on the case. You really don’t want to miss anything at this point. Doing so might mean that customers have a problem with the product further down the line. That could cause you some serious issues. All being well, your final prototype will make it through this stage with flying colours. Anything less, and it needs to go back through the process again.
Now that you have a final product, it is time to test it with the general public once again. It is important to repeat this process, as you might be surprised how many things might have changed. It is always good practice to check with your potential customers before finally submitting something to be put on sale. During this stage, ensure that all honest criticisms are taken on board and discussed during another meeting. You should be happy, unanimously, that the product is likely to do well. If there is any doubt, then look into what could be done to improve it before you try to sell it.
Marketing is an essential stage for any product that you might develop. What your marketing will look like very much depends on your business and your brand. However, one thing is for certain. You want to start marketing as soon as you know that the product will indeed be going on sale. The earlier you begin marketing, the better. That way, you will have already gained some interest before it comes time to actually selling the product. Having those initial sales to boost ratings really helps in the first run of a product. Ensure that you give the marketing everything you’ve got – it really can make all the difference. Once that is done, it is just time to put the product on sale, sit back and see how it does.