How to manage the product development process
Product development process is a method of successive and iterative stages used to put a new product through from the definition and design stage until the production and launch to market. It can be divided into four main stages:
Stage 1 – Product Planning
The first stage in the product development process is planning, this is where you establish what features, functions and benefits your product should have as well as who it’s aimed at, how much it costs etc. During this stage you also start writing your marketing plan. This will include writing a specification for the finished product including all its components and functionality – You’ll need an electronics engineer to do this.
Stage 2 – Design and Development
At this next stage you’ll produce detailed drawings of how things look (e.g. PCB layout) all components of the system, including software and hardware will be identified in the drawings. You’ll also need to identify suppliers who can make your parts.
Stage 3 – Manufacturing
At this stage you will have produced a prototype of your product which is tested for quality control purposes before manufacture starts on a production run or batches of your product are made up at an assembly plant. This is where you start testing features that are new or different from that on existing products, it’s at this point you’re likely to get feedback from customers about how they like it. By the end of stage 3 you should have finalised your marketing plan and started doing PR work in order to promote the launch of your new device and also working with your PR agency to get it into magazines and newspapers.
The time taken for stage 3 depends on the type of product, its complexity, how many changes are required part way through etc. It can take anything from 6-18 months or more, which is an extremely long time in today’s fast-moving world of technology where new devices are being launched by the week. Stage 3 typically accounts for 45% of the total cost of developing a new device.
Stage 4 – Manufacturing & Marketing
Once you have gone through all the previous stages with your prototype you start mass production at an industrial level i.e making millions of units not just hundreds or thousands so that they can reach customers around the world who will buy it. This stage can take a further 12-24 months depending on the size of the production run and complexities of your product.
Stage 5 – End of Life & Feedback
In case your product fails to capture the market or you realize that there is a better way to design it, you could simply stop production and start working on a new concept. In case your product receives positive reviews from customers, if any changes need to be made they would inform you and then again launch a new version of the same device. This cycle continues. You can even sell off all your models at a discount and start fresh with another concept instead of completely halting production because the cost implications for this stage are massive – think millions!
A typical Technology Product Development Life Cycle
Now that we’ve seen what goes into designing physical products, let’s take an example like Google Glass and Chisel; It is very rare for a physical product to be created and distributed globally. Usually, one factory produces them and sends it off to retailers around the world – but this is about to change.
Companies like Tom Carter who we interviewed in an earlier article specialize in manufacturing and shipping wearable tech around the world. This means that you could create a product, describe which features you want to include and ship it off into production before presenting it as a finished product on Kickstarter. This would be beneficial as it eliminates those complicated stages of testing and refining – meaning your risk is drastically reduced!
Thus the Agile Product development process could be completed with a small number of people – you could literally create a new product from your garage!
But what about the design of wearable tech? Surely that has to be created by an expert? Not necessarily. Well who knows more about wearables then former employees of Google and Apple? They can share their expertise with companies looking for their help, as well as sharing details on patents they’ve filed in the past. This means you’re all good there too!
So if this is all sounding great so far don’t get too excited just yet – things aren’t always going to go according to plan. You see, some people have raised concerns over how reliable these devices are, and whether or not they would actually work under real world conditions.
Thus the Product development process is useful in the creation of a final product. It is an integral part of any project and its success can make or break a business venture. The process itself varies from industry to industry, depending on the size and nature of the project, but it generally consists of five stages: Initiation, feasibility analysis, conceptualization and design, implementation and testing and commercialization.