Part 1: The Must-know Phases of the New Product Development Process

blog4-in-articleIf you’re beginning the new product development process, you likely want to do it right, and do it right the first time. Fortunately, there are ways to make sure your product is made as effectively and efficiently as possible.

This is Part 1 in a two-part series exploring the must-know phases of the new product development process that are crucial for success. In this post, we’ll discuss the first four phases. Check in next week for Part 2 of the series, which examines the second four phases.

Learning the following four phases of the new product development process could make the difference between your product being a success or a flop. Don’t strike out on your own without learning these steps, and sticking to them.


1. Idea generation

There’s something about getting a bunch of people in a room together to brainstorm: brilliant ideas are born. Start generating ideas by gathering six to eight people (with different job functions and perspectives) together and exploring ideas, no matter how far-fetched they seem.

Jump start the brainstorming process by creating a chart with customer pain points on one axis and new technology on the other axis. Then, as a group, explore the problems and technologies. Then conduct the same exercise for customer frustrations and future trends.

Also seek out ideas in other places. Encourage your employees and your target audience to make suggestions, and take a close look at your competitor and their successes and/or failures.

Be open to hearing any and all critiques, feedback, or new ideas that are out there. You never know which small or obscure ideas you encounter early on could inspire a successful product.


2. Screening

If a product idea isn’t going to work, you want to know as soon as possible. Don’t continue on in the new product development process without first screening your ideas objectively.

In the idea generation phase, every idea should be considered. Now it’s time to choose the best ones. As a group, make a first cut. Then, give each group member a set number of votes to vie for their favorite ideas.

Everyone has their own set of experiences and beliefs, and will use their personal criteria to make decisions. Have each person explain why he or she thinks an idea is good. Even if the person’s reason is a gut feeling, that’s okay too. Gut feelings are a cognitive process based on experience.

When you’ve come up with a short list, examine each remaining idea for feasibility. Then look at the ideas in relation to the company’s strengths and goals. Whittle the list down even further so you’re left with the best candidates for further development.

It’s okay if group members become a champion of an idea, because it can help with the vision and execution. But try not to fall in love too much with any one idea. That idea could get scrapped down the road, or could have no market demand. If you’re not fixated on one idea, you won’t invest too much barking up the wrong tree.

Things to screen for at this stage include return on investment, market potential, and affordability. Consider these factors carefully now, so you don’t waste your time (and money) on a product that won’t reap profits. Don’t push forward if signs are pointing down a dismal path.


3. Concept development and testing

Now that you have a few select ideas, hash out the details and refine them into well-developed product or service offerings. Don’t forget the customer problems and aspirations your product would solve – these are the key to your product’s success.

It’s not too early for consumer testing. Take a small group of customers and let them in on your concept, with plenty of information that will allow them to understand and visualize your product. Creating a product-briefing document is a useful tool to do this with. Include any sketches or computer renderings as well.

What is the reaction? Is your product needed or wanted? Is your product idea understood? What potential deal breakers do your customers see? If you can communicate your product well to your target market, you’ll get valuable feedback from them.

Take the feedback you receive and refine and develop your concept even further. (Or, stop if your product has no market appeal.) You can also use your customer’s ideas to begin thinking about marketing concepts for your product.

Next, create a working minimum viable product, and get it in front of your target users. It might be useful to have a third party do the testing to avoid bias.


4. Business analysis

Now it’s time to flesh out the numbers and figure out whether your product can be profitable. Try to determine what someone would be willing to pay for your product, and what it will cost you to produce it. What is your break-even point?

Also take a visual market overview, to find out where your product would sit among the competition. Examine these points, too:

  • What is the demand for your product
  • Does your product go too far, or not far enough?
  • What would the 2.0 product look like?
  • What does the patent landscape look like? (Do an intellectual property search to get an idea.)
  • Can you protect anything unique from future competition? If not, can you attain enough market share to stay ahead of the competition?

Once you’ve completed these four phases of the new product development process, you’re ready to move on. Come back next week for Part 2 in this series, which explains phases 5-8 of the new product development process.

If you have any questions, or need assistance getting your product to market, contact us at Outerspace today.

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Jarrod Barker
About the Author
Jarrod Barker
Jarrod has a keen interest in technology development and operations. He has an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and his industry experience spans product design, sports technology, medical device engineering and power generation. He has worked for a leading design consultancy in Cambridge, UK and now runs the Outerspace branch in San Diego USA.

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