Product development creates dilemmas

Focus product development on differientation.

Product development could be holding you back

Could you be trying to grow a profitable business with the same old products in the new market environment? Good new product development, like other breakthroughs, is not always difficult because it can come one step at a time.

If you have not done any product development in the past it can seem overwhelming because it seems away beyond your capabilities. You must take time out to learn which approaches will work well for you and pay off and which ones won’t.

As experience is always the best teacher, it pays to engage some expert, practical advice. Advice from people who have actually developed products and services. There is more to product development than the theory. Perhaps it’s time to look for some strategic intervention into your product development. At the very least look for a catalyst so you can start the necessary action.

Your future could well depend on some of our suggestions about future proofing. They should not be ignored, hoping your problems and frustrations will go away. Clearly, understand the alignment between where you are now and what they are trying to achieve. Through strategies and the impact, future forces can and will have on them and the products and services you are offering.

New product development

In business, new product development refers to the complete process of bringing a new product or service to market. New product development is described in the literature as the transformation of a market opportunity into a product available for sale. It can be a tangible product that is, something physical you can touch, or an intangible product like a service, experience, or belief.

A good understanding of customer problems, frustrations, wants and needs, is critical.  Understanding the competitive environment and the nature of the market also represent the top factors required for the success of a new product.

Cost, time and quality are the main variables that drive the customer requirements. Aimed at these variables, you can develop continuous practices and strategies.  This will better satisfy the customer requirements and increase their market share by a regular development of new products.

Conceptual models have been designed so you can facilitate a smooth product development process.  The steps listed here are in chronological order:

  1. Understand and observe the market, the customers, the technology, and the limitations of the problem.
  2. Synthesise the information collected at the first step.
  3. Visualise new customers using the product.
  4. Create a prototype, evaluate and improve the concept.
  5. Implementation of design changes which are associated with more technologically advanced procedures. This step will require more time.

There are many uncertainties and challenges throughout the process which you must face. Although product development is creative, the discipline requires a systematic approach to guide the processes that are required to get a new product to market. The use of best practices and the elimination of barriers to good and open communication are the main concerns for the management of the new product development process.

Commercialisation of your products and services

Your ideas are worthless until they are commercialised. Commercialization is the process by which a new product or service is developed and introduced into the market. It is broken into stages, from the conception of the product through its production, adoption and support of end users. It takes into account the production, financing, distribution, marketing and customer support required to achieve commercial success.

Prototyping could be an important aspect of your product development.  It involves creating a quick prototype for a product development concept that has been determined to have business relevance and value. Prototyping generally means a ‘quick-and-dirty’ model is created, rather than the refined product model that will be tested and marketed later on.

Do your existing products have a competitive advantage?

Just because your products and services are selling well today, doesn’t mean they will in the future. Arguably the most important reason for having a product development strategy is to create or maintain your competitive advantage. In today’s fast-paced world products and services can become stale or, even obsolete overnight.

Setting up email lists, creating referral programs and identifying clear value propositions are important ways to grow your business. However, without  a new product development program, your business can quickly start to lose traction in the market. If you are successful, your competitors will quickly copy you, so you must be prepared to stay one step ahead.

Are there changes needed in your products and services, since they were launched? This will become apparent if you are losing sales and market share. Do a thorough business analysis.

What are the opportunities for your business in developing more competitive products?

  • Define or describe your ideas. What exactly is the product or service you want to develop? Clearly defining your product in the early stages will help to keep you on track.
  • Identify your market. What will set this product or service apart from your competition? Are there benefits of your proposed new product? What are your target customer’s problems and frustrations with similar products on the market?

Do your customers still love your products and services?

Talk to customers. I mean really talk to customers and as many as you can. There is often a big gap between a businesses understanding and how the customers are actually feeling about and using your products. How well do your products and services solve the customer’s problems, frustrations, wants and needs?

Perhaps you customers have never been shown how to properly use your products and services. Is there a need for more training? What additional features could you incorporate to improve your customer experience?

Everyone knows they should be talking more to their customers, but few ever do. There always seems to be something more important to do, even though your could well be dealing with customers who are the wrong fit for your business.  In the meantime, your competitors continue to undermine you in the market. Your employees could also be taking advantage of your lack of market information and knowledge.

Keep talking to more customers until the stories you hear back, start to resemble each other. Start to feel comfortable that your products and services are a good market fit.

Look for additional opportunities for product development

If is possible that some of your products and services could be re-purposed, or could be sold into a different market. Once an idea for product improvement has been identified, a more formal product development strategy can be applied.

How many times have you heard, but failed to act on, the need to create products with better customer experiences across the buyer journey? Perhaps by talking to more customers and your employees on the front line, you can greatly enhance your customer’s experience.

Often when you discuss your customers problems, frustrations, wants and needs, they will uncover ideas and opportunities. Not only ideas and opportunities to improve your existing products and services, but opportunities for new product development. Products that could enhance your existing product ranges or complete new lines that could be successfully incorporated into your current business operations.

Talk to others in your field

The best tips and precise stats are seldom shared in public blog posts like this. Sometimes the person that knows exactly the thing you need is outside your circle of contacts and level of experience. So, develop the habit of reaching out to other businesses in your field, along with others you think might be able to help and compare notes.

Talking to others in your field (suppliers, manufacturers, financiers, competitors) is important. While it may never seem to be urgent enough to justify taking the time and allocating the resources. Just remember, leaning on your own understanding will not take you to the best people to talk with. They could well be in a totally different industry, or indeed another country.

Make full use of your customers and staff

Your customers are on the receiving end and your staff are on the frontline of delivery. Both will have or should have, an intimate knowledge of your products and services and the market you are seeking to serve. Appropriate knowledge gives them the confidence to provide you with product development ideas and the support they would like.

Play with your children and become more creative

A child’s creativity starts with their method of thinking and problem solving. Daily challenges also expand their reasoning and understanding of the world. In an encouraging environment a child becomes more confident of their views and opinions and so will you. Develop of creativity, for both you and your children can be incorporated into daily life. Building Lego models is now a classic way of uncovering new ways of doing things and is a useful tool for building some prototypes.

Development of creativity, for both you and your children, can be incorporated into daily life. Building Lego models is now a classic way of uncovering new ways of doing things. It is a useful tool for building some prototypes.

Product development with creative toys.

Your children could be your best teachers in modern product development.


The development of your products and services should always be evolving

Product development is an always-evolving and fluid process, and just as some steps will change, so will the person who manages product development. The last thing you want or need is to be dishing up the same old products in the same old way and expecting a different outcome. While some of your products may be perennials, always be considering new products and services because they will add interest to your business.

In some organisations, there is a dedicated team that researches and tests new products. Some smaller organisations may outsource their new product development to a design team. In midsize organisations, the product manager is often the person in charge of product development, and they may be part of the marketing team.

Selling products and services that have very technical requirements may require you to run then ideas past a technology or engineering company. Regardless of what framework is used and who is in charge of product development, it is just one aspect of the entire marketing effort.

Quotable quotes

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”.  Reid Hoffman

“If you keep your eye on the profit, you’re going to skimp on the product. But if you focus on making really great products, then the profits will follow”.  Steve Jobs

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