The 5 Stages of the Product Development Process

The SME market is highly dynamic, and the competition is increasing every day. The development of new products is an important step towards the survival and growth of your business. For small businesses to stay in the running against large multinational companies, they need to regularly upgrade their products to change customer needs. 

The process of product development / software development for startups or SMEs starts from conceptualization to the final roll-out to the public. Using an established and tested development strategy can help businesses avoid common mistakes and delays. Many production models have guided startups and larger companies for many years now.  

Some of the most well-established product development strategies are mentioned below.

  • Stage-Gate Model: The most widely-used development process, this model is made up of an 8-step plan to successfully evaluate, build and launch a product. 

  • IDEO Model: This product development process is user-centric. It relies on consumer observation in the real world for the development and upgrading of a product. 

  • The BAH (Booz, Allen and Hamilton) Model: The BAH model comprises 7 steps. This framework guides the developer to form a strategy and emphasises risk minimisation.

No matter which model you use, the product development services you use can be broken down into five stages.

1. Generating the Idea

This is the first phase wherein businesses look for ideas for their product. Some common sources for ideas are customers themselves, competitor businesses, journals, employees, suppliers and newspapers. There are also several technical tools for idea generation and research, but most small businesses lack awareness or resources to use them. This stage lays the groundwork for the next few phases and guides the entire product development process, making it one of the most important phases of the process.

2. Screening

This is the second phase, during which the ideas generated are put through a screening process to remove the ones that cannot be done and go ahead with the viable ideas. At this stage, businesses take opinions from customers, employees and other enterprises and professionals. When this stage is over, the business is left with a handful of the most effective suggestions and ideas. 

3. Concept Development

At the third stage, the business starts researching to figure out estimated costs, expected revenue and potential profits that the product can generate. They carry out a SWOT analysis and lay out the strategy to identify the target audience, enabling proper segmentation of the market for the new product.

4. Product Development

This phase is where the first three phases lead. It includes the physical designing and manufacturing of the new product. The development starts with the manufacturing of a beta or prototype which enables market testing. Based on the results of this market test, the enterprise can decide whether the product is worth the large-scale production.

Commercialisation and Roll Out

If the results from the prototyping stage are successful, it is followed by commercialisation and large-scale production. At this stage, businesses launch promotional campaigns that endorse the new product. The results of the past market research will determine the location and timing of the new launch.

No matter which model or product development services you choose, ensure you have customer insight at every step.

Written by Doreen