Is Product Development Your Thing? Here's what You Need to Know

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Getting a product off the ground isn’t as easy as you’d think. Most products you see in the market had to undergo intensive product development. Without intensive product development, most products wouldn’t make it to the market.

Without product development, rolling out new products would be more of a hit or miss. Note that companies invest a lot of money and resources into new products. It would be futile to launch a product that feels incomplete or doesn’t capture consumer attention.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of some incredible product ideas. However, most of these ideas remain ideas and never crystallize. 

The reason for this being there wasn’t any product development exercise implemented to see the idea become actual products. The other reason might be, the idea turned out to be unprofitable at some stage of the product development process.

In this piece, we’ll elaborate on what product development is and why it’s so important before launching a product into the market. That way, you’ll know whether your latest product idea could do with a bit of product development, or whether you’ll take your chances and proceed without the process.


What Is Product Development?

Any product starts as a concept, a design, or an idea. Transforming the idea into an actual product takes a lot of time and effort.  The process by which a product transitions from a vision, concept, or idea into the actual product is what we call product development.

Don’t think of product development as a single process. It is, in fact, a holistic process consisting of individual sub-processes that collectively engender product development. Product development is crucial for the success of any product that’s rolled out for the market.


Steps Involved in Product Development

Product development isn’t quite what it was a few years back. That’s because technology and the internet have brought about massive changes in the business arena, including product development and production.

Product development typically varies between the type of industry and the general business model. However, the process basically entails these six steps for product dev.


1. Conceptualizing / Ideation

You can probably guess from the name; it’s where the involved parties come up with the idea. There’s really not much to this stage of product development.

However, this doesn’t mean that ideation is easy. Coming up with a completely new idea is really mind-wracking. Try it yourself, and you’ll find that someone else already thought of your thing.

Fortunately, you can borrow from previous items, create improvements or make alterations of already existing products. Also, there are some good online sources for novel ideas you can try out.


2. Research and Development (R&D)

This is a very crucial step in the product development process. Most managers may be tempted to skip out on this critical step. Mainly because it may seem unnecessarily costly.

Instead, companies may choose to trust their gut because the idea seems pretty foolproof. However, consumers may not be so enthusiastic about or receptive to your product. Ultimately, you may incur massive losses after production, so it’s way better to invest adequately in R&D.

The best alternative, however, would be to check whether you qualify for the research and development tax credits program. You can see here all about R&D credits and why the program is definitely beneficial.


3. Planning

Once you have the concept and all the research and development on lock, the planning is what follows.  Planning is where you lay everything down on how you’ll get from the idea to the actual product.

The secret to proper planning is to take your time with it. Simple sketches are a great place to start. Also, don’t cling too much on one idea; try to explore different options, then settle on the perfect one.

Remember to be realistic with your planning. Expectations may go through the roof, but remember to maintain a cool head throughout the entire process.

More so, because after planning, you have to approach manufacturers for prototyping. You need a solid plan before any manufacturer can take you seriously. An exaggerated plan also won’t be taken seriously and will also be costly.


4. Making the Prototype

A prototype is a physical sample of the conceptualized product. Think of it as the first-ever copy of your product; it isn't the final product that will be mass-produced.

From this prototype, you can make necessary changes and improvements to make it perfect. Also, you can have more than one prototype.  You may end up with several prototypes before settling on the final version of the product.

Most business owners outsource their prototyping and not to the manufacturers. Some learning institutions have the capacity and facilities to create prototypes. Other people outsource to small-scale producers within their line of business.

3D printing and computer-aided design software have made prototyping much easier and less expensive. After this stage, you should come up with the finished product.


5. Building the Supply Chain

If you’re satisfied with the prototype, you can now source your material and start production. This sourcing isn’t limited to materials, but also includes partners and investors.

This is arguably the busiest part of product development. Depending on your business, it might involve quite a lot of stuff. Think obtaining materials, storage facilities, vendors and if applicable distribution and freighting services.


6. Costing

Now that you have all the logistics in place, now it’s time to crunch the numbers. Research and development are very critical for successful costing.

After everything is done, you’ll have an idea of what production of the product will cost. Then later, you do the cost-benefit analysis and find out if the product is worth mass producing.


7. Production

This isn’t actually a step in product development but is more of the result of the process. Finally, you get a manufacturer and produce goods.

Later you do your marketing, then start distributing the product to all target areas. Depending on how consumers receive it, you can make a killing or count your losses.


With These Steps, You’re Ready to Launch Your Product

Getting your product off on the right foot is harder than you think. With the competitiveness of the businesses, product development is more of a necessity than a requirement.

If you’re planning to launch a new product dev, ensure you do some product development beforehand. Also, you can consider R&D tax credits if you need a bit of financing for your product development.

For more informative reads, check out our other articles on product dev. Visit the Startups section of the Bootstrap Business Blog to learn more about new product development, production, and startup product marketing.

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