How to start a product development process
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Product development is one of the most important—if not the most important—aspects of a business. Without it, there’s nothing to sell and no point in having a business in the first place. And even if you already have a solid product, you should still dedicate a significant amount of resources to new products to diversify your offerings and increase your chances of success.
Product development 101
Product development includes all the steps to take a product from concept to market. This includes identifying market needs, researching the competition, conceptualizing solutions, developing product roadmaps, building the product, etc.
Product managers are the strategic visionaries behind product management, but many teams are involved in the process, from design and UI/UX to marketing and manufacturing. Bringing a product to market requires everyone.
If the product development process seems overwhelming, don’t worry—an visual collaboration application like Lucidspark can help you organize the process from concept to reality. Customizable templates like the product vision board or the product requirements document (PRD) make it easy (and less intimidating) to get started.
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The product development process
The stages of product development aren’t rigid and change with the market, but here are our general recommendations for a well-rounded product development process:
The first step to creation is ideation. It seems simple at first glance, but it’s often the hardest part. No matter how bright your team is, ideation can be difficult without an organized approach. Brainstorm, analyze current products, or conduct surveys. Search for inspiration in creative places—you never know when you may discover the next big idea.
Research market trends
After you come up with a great idea, you’ll need to conduct market research to make sure it’s as good of an idea as you think. It’s easy to feel deflated if you discover it’s not, but don’t give up. Consider revisiting one of your other ideas from the first step.
To make this step easier, try not to get attached to your ideas.
A solid plan will set you up for success in the prototyping phase. You’ll want to consider all aspects of the product and plan them out before you take it to a manufacturer.
For example, let’s say you’ve come up with an ingenious idea for a water bottle. It’s self-cleaning, stays cold, and infuses water with electrolytes. You’d want to think through several questions in this phase. What does it look like? How does it open? How big is it? What’s it made of? How will it be packaged? Is it portable? And this is just a start!
It’s finally time to take your product from idea to reality. After you’ve made a plan, you’ll need to start approaching manufacturers (or, if you’re a substantial business, come up with how you’ll manufacture the product yourself). The manufacturer is responsible for producing the minimum viable product (or MVP).
The MVP is vital because it acts as a data-gathering mechanism. You can give it to customers to test, then gather feedback about what works and what needs improvement. Take your time with this process—there’s nothing wrong with creating several prototypes to test with many customers before building at scale. You’ll have a much better result in the end, and it is cheaper than producing an item that doesn’t sell.
Build the chain
Also known as sourcing, this is the step to determine the process from manufacturing to shipping. You’ll need to determine suppliers and manufacturers, how to store your product, and how your products will ship from the manufacturer to you or your storage facility. Then, test your assumptions. For example, is it cheaper and more reliable to have a product built elsewhere and shipped to you? Or would it be better overall to have a manufacturing facility closer to your storage facility?
Once you have a basic plan, you’ll need a backup plan. Manufacturers routinely run into issues, and if your primary manufacturer can’t produce your product, you can’t make money. Build a contingency plan for each aspect of your supply chain.
You probably have an idea of what your product should cost, but you’ll need to take a deep dive into the data to make a final decision. Consider the actual cost of goods sold (COGS) and your profit margin when deciding your ultimate retail price. This can tricky because more costs are often involved than you may initially realize. Create a spreadsheet to break down every expense, from raw materials to shipping costs, storage costs, and manufacturing fees. Consider how taxes will factor into your overall costs. You may also wish to compare manufacturing options to lower your COGS and create a more significant margin. There’s a delicate balance to strike because you’ll need to generate a healthy profit while also creating a competitive product that customers can afford.
Get started with Lucidspark
After you’ve made it through these stages, congratulations—it’s time for launch!
Your team will need help staying organized and aligned throughout every step of the product development process. Lucidspark offers dozens of templates, features, and tools to optimize collaboration and alignment so you can make your best ideas a reality.
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