Key Ingredients of a Successful Product Development Process in 2022
Things that are an essential part of our lives today were just ideas in someone’s head – once upon a time. Only after going through the entire development process could these ideas be turned into novel product companies like Airbnb, Amazon, Tesla, and such.
But not every product company can make it this far. Research conducted by McKinsey suggests that only one succeeds for every 7 product ideas. This is not only because of bad product ideas but also because of the wrong product development strategy.
In this article, let’s look at some essential ingredients required to build a winning product development strategy in 2022.
While your idea may be exciting, only an objective opinion will help confirm what chances the concept has for making it big. There is a lot that needs to be done to get an idea moving from just the ideation phase to the research and designing phase. So, before you put in that work, you need to ensure that others positively respond to your idea.
To ensure your product development strategy stays foolproof, first find somebody whose opinions are relevant and that you value. Ask them to scrutinize your idea and question you on it. At this point, keep in mind to get an NDA signed to protect your idea.
Here are some questions that you might want to think about during the early feedback phase:
- How did the idea come about, what prompted it?
- Is your idea solving any problems that you have noticed or faced?
- Did your idea arrive out of your real-life experiences?
- Is your idea tech-heavy? What are some competitors that work on similar ideas?
- Does your idea sit well with the market it is intended for? What are the USPs?
- What benefit does the idea offer to people as a whole?
At this stage, know that some ideas that aren’t rooted in solving any societal problem can still make successful products. These include things like luxury items, toys, and other things that sell because they are quirky or because of the face value.
Gather feedback and reviews from multiple relevant people to better understand how your idea sounds to other people. The more early feedback you collect, the smoother your product development process will become since you would’ve already identified key things in the first stage itself.
Knowing the goal
In the first step, you:
- Clarified where the idea came from.
- Built confidence in your idea and what it does.
- Identified some competitors and your target market.
Now, moving on to the next phase, the idea is to determine whether you’ve got what it takes to turn your idea into a product. For that, you need to be clear about your product’s goal. The following questions can help you identify the goals you are working towards:
- What do you wish to get out of this?
- Do you want to start a business and run it yourself?
- Do you wish to find other partners to help you out?
- Are you willing to commit evenings and off-days to develop your product?
- What are your thoughts on offloading it to someone else to get things started?
This phase is essentially the start of your business model. At this point, you should be clear with the values and intentions of the product you’re going to develop.
Assessing the resources
Whether your idea is of a product or a social service – it will require the same amount of time and effort to make it happen. It then boils down to three essential resources – time, skills, and money. At this stage, it is important to be brutally honest. Answer the following questions with facts and not hopeful thinking:
- What core skills do you possess?
- What skills does your team bring to the table?
- Have you got design experts to get your product designing started?
- Do you have marketing specialists to help you spread the word about the product?
- How much time can you allocate towards working on this idea?
- What are some non-negotiable commitments?
At this stage, think of yourself as the sole project manager, and try to figure out what other resources, people, and skills you would need to get the ball rolling.
Now that you have identified people with relevant skills, the next step is to put the idea through a robust design strategy. This is one of the stages that will require a lot of iterations and improvements.
To begin with, you can build a ‘low fidelity design, which could just be some sketches or a card model. That way, you will get a chance to think about different functions without putting in a lot of effort in the first phase. This low-fi design will be adapted with each new feedback.
Based on the complexity of your product design and the number of people you want to review your design, this phase can take six months to 1 year. The idea should be to have a working prototype ready by the end of this phase, which needs development.
The more fleshed out the design of your product, the fewer surprises you’ll get in the coming phases. When it comes to the development phase, you might want to offshore the work to an external organization – especially if the product is largely physical. Therefore, project management and budgeting play an important role in the development phase of the product. Things to keep in mind at this stage include:
- Expect the unexpected. When developing a product, many variables are outside of your control, and you must plan to address those variables, too, as and when the time comes.
- Put in some buffers for unexpected last-minute delays.
Generally, product companies prefer undertaking the development stage using Agile principles. This essentially means that the entire work is broken down into smaller sprints and daily meets so that everyone stays on top of the product development process. If you are not working on a physical product, your development stage will include working on the following key elements:
- The back-end
- The front-end
- UI and UX design
- Quality checks
In this phase, the idea should be to roll out an MVP prototype, which can then be tested on different users. Then, the feedback can be collected, and modifications can be made before the final product is rolled out.
Whether you work full-time or as a freelance developer, keep in mind that once your product has reached the market, your work has just begun. Now, the task is to create effective marketing channels, and campaigns to spread the word about your product, set up processes to collect feedback, and work on the feedback iteratively, continuously striving to improve!
In conclusion, product development is truly an ongoing process. There is no stage that can be pinpointed and said as the “final stage of the process”. It is all tied intimately together in a cyclic manner, and to develop products that win, you will need to go through all the cycles of development, feedback, and more!