The product development process entails all steps necessary in the development of a new product – from an initial product concept to product manufacturing. This process may differ from one industry to another, but many steps are commonplace for teams looking to bring a new product to market.
1. Proof of Concept
A proof of concept tests a design idea and seeks to determine whether the idea for a new product can someday become a reality. This stage of the product development process does not consider things like market demand or production processes. The focus remains solely on the viability of an idea.
Companies will need to invest time and resources to complete a proof-of-concept exercise. Understanding the physical components of the product and supporting technologies necessary is critical to completing this step of the process.
2. User Experience Design
User experience describes the interaction and resulting feelings a user has when they use a new product. The user experience design process allows product development teams to anticipate and fulfill the needs of users. This intelligence is gained long before the mass production of the product.
Design teams must first make sure they understand the needs of their future customers. Project teams should also define in simple terms how the product they produce will address this need. The team can then use product design sketches and storyboarding to build out and add real-world context to a product idea.
3. Product Design
Design teams use the information they have gathered in the previous two steps to create formal engineering specifications for a planned product. System architecture plays an integral role in this process, along with defining specific product features.
This combination of these two provides a conceptual model of the product that includes structure, components, and behavior. The system architecture also demonstrates how the various product components work together.
4. Product Development
Now it is time to take the conceptual model and determine which engineering resources will be needed to create a viable product, including software, electrical, mechanical, industrial, system and perhaps others.
When the right team of experts is assembled, each can develop their plan for engineering their part of the product and then collaborate to ensure their inputs work together to create a functioning product. Often, the product functionality is created in layers with many of the engineering activities taking place at the same time. Project management is a key to success in this stage.
5. Rapid Prototyping
Rapid prototyping uses manufacturing technologies like 3D printing, custom technologies, and software integration to bring the product to life. Rapid prototyping provides design teams with a clearer picture of how a product will perform while it is at a stage in the process where making changes is still possible. This prototyping method is used by designers to minimize costs and waste in the development process.
This is the point in the development process where it is time to produce a physical product and test its ability to be manufactured. While testing, efficiencies in the manufacturing process, quality process and product cost to produce will be identified and recommended. This step validates that the product can be manufactured consistently and cost effectively in a larger production environment.
This is also the time to make sure the product meets environmental standards and passes any necessary certifications testing.
Companies can then work towards putting the proper tooling in place to facilitate mass production of the product.
7. Production Readiness
Beta testing results will guide efforts to refine a product before mid- to high-volume production begins. Marketing must also become a part of the process to ensure the product resonates with intended buyers. A successful launch depends on the team’s ability to align production with sales and marketing forecasts.
While the product is nearing its launch phase, trusted customers are necessary for beta testing. The information provided by beta testers is invaluable and will ensure needed tweaks and changes are complete before final manufacturing begins.
The production readiness phase is also when companies need to identify the other key components they need to support a new product. At Up-Rev, we advise identifying:
- Partners and experts to fill knowledge and skills gaps.
- Manufacturing approach – outsourced or in-house?
- Supply chain to support the new product.
- Distribution methods.
The development and launch of a new product culminate after a complicated journey, facilitated by many stakeholders. Teams that have already traveled this road will attest that it is a rewarding journey, when done right. Product development teams that make the steps above a part of their development efforts will set a solid foundation for project completion. Teams ready to kickstart the process can start by contacting Up-Rev.