Research & Development

New product development basics, strategy, and detailed steps

Product development is at the centre of most companies and industries. The product manufactured can be something physical or it could be a service, solution, new manufacturing process, or a new retail marketing concept. The success of a company’s product development needs a lot of resources and a good amount of research before launching the product. It is imperative for the company to know the importance of the product development journey. The continuity of the company heavily relies on the product’s quality.

A product development plan decides how the customer will experience the product. From the day of idea generation to the final product, the company keeps in mind how the product will fit with the customer. A ready to use product will provide the product developer with end-user experience, benefits, feedback and suggestions. The developer uses all of these to fix problems and make the final product better and more marketable.

Various new technologies and methods, such as online automated feedback systems, have been developed to help identify and evaluate how the customer experiences the product. The company uses these methods to identify and rectify problems in the products. After this, they correct the problems to create a better product.

Every step in the product development journey is of vital importance, from ideation all the way to the final product. Customer feedback, statistical data research and market insights should all be taken into account in the entire product journey.

Product analysis and improvement is a continuous process. Implementation of business analytics and monitoring gives insight on the important points left out at the planning stage and provides tips for designers. Customer behaviour, product performance, immediate consumer demand and innovation are a few key aspects of product modification or new product development.

When the company receives feedback and analytics on a product already on the market. They can use that information to develop a totally new product. Sometimes the developer may find that the needs of the customers have changed and the old product does not satisfy their needs. The developer needs to get that information, compare it to current market trends and come up with a new product. This will help them stay in business and be competitive by using great product ideas.

In the end, the will have ensure their continued existence. Key points to consider when analysing product development journey to make a better product:

  • While analysing product performance, the company must measure product outcomes and future consumer needs.
  • To better analyse the effectiveness of your product performance, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) must be combined within the business and management of the product development journey.
  • To get the expected results, the company must employ a product manager, who oversees the process and sees the future opportunities of the product.
  • Project Management is key in the overall execution and success of any product.
    The strategic decision and project execution should run at the same speed. It must be like the wheels of a vehicle if exponential growth is to be realised.

For any company to be able to stay relevant and stay competitive, they must pay close attention to the product development journey. Here the developer will find all the information required to better their product or create a new product that satisfies the needs of their customer. And as long as consumers are satisfied, their continued existence is guaranteed.

Development Framework

Developing a product is not something that can be free-styled, especially if one wants it to succeed. The product development process requires something to guide the process. Creating quality products to solve people’s problems, it requires serious thought. That is where the concept of a framework comes in. Simply put, a framework is a tool that guides the thought process when solving a problem. If one faces something complex, having a framework can help breakdown the challenge.

We use frameworks everyday without realising it. Each day we face problems that we need to solve that range from the mundane to the complex. For example, when choosing which restaurant to have dinner, one does not usually randomly pick any establishment. One comes up with key dimensions (location, type of food, service, prices and so on), as well as, set criteria (customer reviews, affordability, distance from home and so on). This is the same with product development. A framework of repeat, improve and scale helps massively  when it comes to problem solving during product development. This is very much a requirement when trying to get a product manufactured.

Now that we have an idea of what a framework is and why it is needed, we can briefly look at an example. One of the most commonly used frameworks is the fuzzy front end (FFE). FFE is a framework with all the steps defined but doesn’t specify in which order they should be carried out. The product development team is the one that decides how to tackle them depending on the nature of the product being developed. Following are main steps of the FFE.

  • Identification of design criteria – The step is about coming up with a number of new product ideas. The team then sifts through the ideas until they identify one that is promising.
  • Idea analysis – Here, product feasibility is studied for each idea until a promising one is identified.
  • Concept genesis – After the feasibility of idea is known, the team then works on coming up with a tangible concept.
  • Prototyping – The concept is then turned into a prototype very quickly, which is used to test a number of use case scenarios and appeal to consumers (maybe even investors).
  • Product development – In this step, the team analyses the business value of the product and if it will contribute to the continued existence of the company.

Development Strategy

Successfully bringing quality products to market requires a new product development (NPD) strategy. Most of newly launched consumer products, about 85%, fail. However, businesses still need to undertake NPD projects to ensure their continued existence and growth. This allows them to explore new avenues and replace current exhausted solutions. They are various ways in which a business can approach new product development, and none of them are complicated. Basically, it involves creating a strategy that identifies a need in an existing market, sets a timeframe and tests the product before launch. These steps in the strategy are guaranteed to increase the success of the new product.

NPD is the process businesses conduct before introducing a new product in an existing market. The need for new product development arises for many reasons. Here are some reasons for new product development:

  • Meeting the evolving needs of consumers
  • Gaining a competitive edge due to increased competition
  • Utilising new technological advancements
  • Taking advantage of new opportunities that have arisen

Without a proper NPD strategy, businesses might run into a lot of problems. For example, the project might end up going on for too long, leading the business to use up resources they don’t have. Worst of all, they might introduce a product into the market and discover that consumers have no need for it. In order to avoid these problems, an NPD strategy is needed. Here are some of the steps you can include in the strategy.

A concept is the implementation plan of the idea. It is as important, if not more important than the idea itself. Usually it takes significant time to develop a good concept and the process has to go through a number of concept before finalizing one or two concepts.

The theoretical implementation of the idea starts by a preliminary design based on the selected concept(s). This step outlines all main features of the product and identifies the general shape and size. Product aesthetics are usually defined and frozen within this step.

The detailed design then goes on to identify all the specifics of the products, especially those directly related to product ease of manufacturing and assembly. One of most important factors identified in this step is product strength and durability.

The design is then presented using 3D drawings, usually in STEP file format. However, higher standards require the 3D drawing to be paired with 2D technical drawings identifying specific tolerances and finish required for each feature of the product parts. This is of particular importance if you want to make sure all interfacing parts match together in the assembly.

Any company, whether big or small is not immune to the product life cycle. Consumer products have limited life span on the market. When they are introduced, they experience growth before peaking at maturity. It is at this point that they start to decline, eventually plateauing somewhere down the line. That is when companies recognized the need for new product development (NPD) to ensure their continued existence.

To properly complete NPD projects, companies need a process that will guide them on how to take a product from idea to production and then to market. This is where a product development strategy comes in. But what exactly is it and why is it a important for companies to have one?

To put it simply, a product development strategy is a strategy that aims to bring new products to the market. It also involves taking existing products and tweaking them to breath new life into them and reintroducing into the market as new. It is what companies do when they have exhausted all growth opportunities in the current market, but still want to continue growing without cessation.

Having a product development strategy ensures that you don’t do your NDP project haphazardly. After all, nothing in the business world, especially revitalizing your business, comes without risks. However, the benefits of undertaking of doing NPD right vastly outweigh any risks. Taking time to come up with a product development strategy has the following benefits.

Improvement

A good product development strategy looks at the latest technology and incorporates it into the NPD project to come up with a quality product. This improves the overall product allowing it to meet the current needs of consumers, which are always evolving (more on the later). Once your company gains a solid reputation of making their products better with time, this can translate into more sales.

Cost reduction

Reducing the cost of bringing great product ideas to life is a critical part of product development. The more costly it is to produce a product, the less profitable it is. Cost reduction can be achieved with a product development strategy. Once the costs of getting your product manufactured have been lowered, you can gain a competitive edge by offering them at a cheaper price. (Even at lower prices, your company can still have a healthy profit margin).

Relevancy

As noted before, consumer needs are always evolving. This is something that can not be stopped no matter how much a company refuses to change. Companies that refuse to change their products as consumers needs evolve risk becoming irrelevant. A product development strategy prevents this from happening by allowing you to adapt and come up with products that constantly meet consumer needs.

New Opportunities

The evolving of consumers needs is not always a bad thing, especially if you have innovative and creative minds working on your NPD project. By looking at the new consumer tastes and preferences, such minds can see the potential for tapping into a new market with their product development strategy.

Just like new product development is important to a company, so is the process that guides it. Without it, there will be no decinerbile plan of action to bring an idea to life. A product development strategy is critical to the success of the NPD project, as well as the profitability and continued existence of the company.

Identify and test target market

The NPD process involves either improving a new product or creating a new one from scratch. For the former, one needs to listen to the complaints consumers have with the current product and implement those changes in the next iteration. The latter involves doing something similar, particularly with competitor products.

Once the market has been surveyed, the data can be analysed to reveal a trend in the consumer complaints, allowing for the business to take the appropriate action.

For example, if consumers are complaining about their electronic devices being a bit bulky, the business can explore options that can decrease device sizes. If the business manufactures smartphones, perhaps they can replace the current lithium-ion battery with an LCB battery instead to streamline the phone’s design.

There are many reasons why product testing is important. One of the most important reason is that showing your product to consumers in the form of a prototype allows you to get valuable feedback from real users. This is important because you get to find out how consumers will respond to the product and fix any mistakes that can impede manufacturing feasibility. A failed product can mark the end of any business venture. With many products failing after launch, going into the NPD process blind is no longer an option. A strategy is needed to make it a tale of success rather than another statistic.

Establish timeline and a business plan

This is important in order to have enough time to develop the product. This requires careful planning by examining the reasons for new product development and letting them dictate the milestones and deadlines for the project. The critical thing to remember here is the timeframes need to be reasonable and take into account all the foreseeable variables that can cause a delay.

A business plan is not just a good way to convince investors to fund your product idea. It is also a means of ensuring that you always remain on track and get your product manufactured and available on the market as soon as possible. It will outline all the goals of developing the product and the strategic decisions and steps you must take to make the idea a success.

In this step, you have a functional product design and prototype that makes getting a patent worth it. This will ensure that no one else duplicates your idea for profit without your permission. Once you have a prototype, you are ready to fill out an application for a utility patent. Just make sure you have a patent professional look it over before filing.

Employing computer simulation

Technology has impacted product development in profound ways. And it only gets better with each advancement. These days, the use of computers has been widely adopted in solution product development. On top of producing models, computers can do so much more to ensure products feasibility and functionality. This can be achieved through simulation, which brings us to the concept of computer-aided engineering (CAE).

To put it simply, CAE is the use of computer software to simulate how a product will work in the real world. The simulated environment is developed using a combination of industrial design, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided design (CAD) together with the CAE software. This has led to what is know as simulation-aided design. Below, we will discuss the benefits of simulation-aided design in product development.

Manufacturing costs aside, filtering ideas and developing a product can be a costly process the longer the product stays in development. When you perform a simulation before moving on to steps like prototyping, you can make fewer prototypes. Not only does this save you a lot of time, but it also means you will bring down production costs, especially if the prototypes are costly. Simulation allows design engineers to identify problems with the design and fix most of them before anything tangible is produced.

It is well known that the more you spend time developing the product the more manufacturing feasibility decreases. A simulation can greatly reduce the product life cycle and increase the chances of making a feasible product. For example, you may find out that you are wasting too much time in development because you are using custom components when standard components in manufacturing can speed things up without sacrificing quality.

In product development, you are bounded to revisit any of the previous developmental stages if issues are discovered. This can set you back both timewise and financially, depending on how far along the product is in the development life cycle. This can add more length to the life cycle, meaning getting the product manufactured can become more costly.

Many people are under the mistaken idea that running simulations only extends the development life cycle. But in reality, it is a great way to avoid such setbacks.

Shorter development life cycles from ideas to products, due to the use of simulation-aided design, help push products sooner into the market. This allows a company to capitalize on a product’s growing demand, which in turns satisfy consumers increasing expectations

Developing ideas into quality products faster, and making them available on the market sooner, then helps gain the competitive edge. Competitors in the market then have to play catch up, while the first product is already selling, allowing the first comer to market to secure an ever larger market share.

On top of coming up with feasible product ideas, conducting a simulation can do so much more. Particularly, it can encourage product designer to experiment with the design. This can allow them to subject it to a wide range of use cases, which can help them discover new opportunities for the product. The new opportunities can lead to the discovery of new markets, which can bring in new revenue streams.

As you can see, simulation-aided design can help with a number of things, on top of manufacturing feasibility and product usability. Technology has come far in helping product designers come up with a quality product. And as technology continues to advance, simulation-aided design will only become more popular.

Summary

To get a quality product manufactured, one needs something to guide the approach to problem-solving. Although one can just go into it hoping for the best, that is not the way to bring an idea to life. An approach is needed to structurally and systematically give the best chance of solving the problem. That is what a product development framework helps achieve.

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