A company’s reputation is reflected in the brands and products it builds. All organizations strive to create products that reflect quality, sustainability and durability. A product’s lifecycle from its ideation to creation and shipping and distribution is a complex route and involves several processes, stages and teams across the company.
In this blog we attempt to understand all about product planning and development and the various stages involved in it.
Product Development—what is it?
Product development encompasses all the stages involved in a product’s lifecycle and includes everything from its ideation to design, development, testing, and finally shipping and delivery. Irrespective of what product is being developed, whether it’s an IT product or a manufacturing product, the product lifecycle is always the same.
How is Agile Product Development different?
The agile approach to product development was born in the nineties when a group of software experts got together and created the Agile Manifesto, the bible for the agile methodology which laid down the guidelines to create processes that would help teams to use new methods for software development. The aim of agile was to put the focus back on the team, customers and quality and help organizations cope with a changing business scenario, making them more resilient to change.
Agile uses the idea of iterative product development that requires the collaboration of self-organizing teams to define requirements and implement solutions. Agile product development produces high quality software—on time and within budget and which can improve on recommendations from the client.
What are the needs & importance of Product Development?
There are many needs for Product Development:
- To bring in new products into the markets
- To improve existing products
- To increase market share, revenue and profits
- To scale up to competition
- To enhance organizational reputation by launching quality products
- To benefit customers by giving them new and improved products
- To respond to market changes by launching new products or revising existing ones.
The different stages in Product Development
While the stages in product development may be different for different organizations and products, there are a few standard steps that all products follow:
These and more answers justifying the need for the product can be got from surveys, research and communication with clients and customers.
- Conceptualization/design planning: The need for the product has been established. The creators have identified what problem or issue needs to be solved. Now they have to devise how the product that they build will solve the issue. Some solutions may be easy to come up with while others may need more in-depth research and brainstorming. The entire team comes together and designs how the product will shape up and how it will serve customer needs.
- Developing the product roadmap: The product roadmap is a plan of action that defines the short- and long-term goals of the product to be built. This is an important stage in the product development lifecycle as it outlines the product priority features that need to be delivered first and also outlines the progress of the product over time. The product management team develops the product roadmap.
- Developing the first version: Also called the minimal viable product, the development team creates the first version of the product that has the bare minimum functionality, but which allows the user to interact with it end to end. The MVP is further iterated and enriched based on user feedback.
- Testing: Testing is a part of the development process in Agile product development. It happens in parallel with the development. Continuous testing and continuous feedback help make the product better and ensures continuous improvement.
- Releasing the product: The product is released to the customer.
- Improving based on feedback: This is an ongoing phase where the product is continuously upgraded based on customer feedback.
How to create a Product Development Plan in simple Steps
Product development includes stakeholders in order to understand their requirements and concerns while building the product. Every product development lifecycle must include a few basic steps which are important to ensure that the product delivered is of the expected quality.
Create a product vision: No product can be built without an idea and a vision. The product vision and idea will define how it will be built and for whom, how it will shape up and what solutions it will provide. The product vision is created after consultations with the stakeholders. Agile is all about the customers and it is important that they are involved from the beginning till the end in the product development.
The product vision is the primary stage in product development and also probably the most critical. It may be a little unclear in the early stages but through market research and analysis it soon develops into a ready reckoner for the team as it outlines the product goals and milestones that need to be delivered.
- Build the product roadmap: Agile follows the principle of early and continuous delivery of valuable software. The product roadmap defines the features of the product that must be prioritised in order to deliver a minimal viable product to the customer. The roadmap helps the teams to decide the time intervals at which features need to be delivered. The roadmap is built by taking into consideration customer requirements, market trends, and effort required.
- Build the product: Once the roadmap has been agreed upon, the teams decide the schedules and the project is broken down into smaller chunks, which in Scrum are called epics and sprints. Once a minimum viable product is created it is continuously iterated in order to improve it, based on feedbacks and testing.
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Product Development Vs Product Management
Product development is concerned with the actual development of the product. It may comprise of teams that are involved with the implementation of the product such as developers, designers, testers, etc.
Product Management on the other hand is a wider umbrella and comprises of how the product goals will align to the overall organizational objectives and business goals. It includes a whole lot of processes that are all concerned with building the product, improving it and marketing it. The product management team liaises often with the stakeholders and ensures their buy-in during product development.
How Does the Product Roadmap work in Product Development?
The product roadmap helps the stakeholders see the broader strategic vision by aligning the product development with the goals and business objectives of the organization. The product roadmap helps the development team by giving them the vision of the product so that they might ensure meeting deadlines and delivering milestones, while avoiding scope creep and mitigating risks. The product roadmap is a go-to document for Product Owners and managers who use it to collaborate, assign tasks, create the product backlog and define priorities.
The product roadmap is also a reference point for the organizational leadership as it helps them understand the overall scope of the project, the liabilities, risks and the advantages associated with the product.
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Who Benefits from Product Development?
- The Organization: This refers to the organization that has created the product for an end-user. The organization that creates the product will not just have its reputation enhanced as a formidable and quality-oriented organization but will also reap the profits of having created a quality product. The organization can counter stiff competition by creating a product that re-affirms its position in the market.
- The end-user: The end-user gets a product that is high in quality and solves issues that the user might have faced earlier.
- The team: The development team/teams that have created the product have much to gain from product development. The experience of having worked in a high-quality project, the satisfaction of having built a great product along with the goodwill from the stakeholders all go in favour of the development team members.
A Last Word
Product development is a continuous process. If there are consumers there will be product development. Agile has redefined product planning and development by putting the onus back on the customer. Agile product development follows methods that reduce overheads and streamline processes, ensuring timely deliveries and customer delight.