What is Product Development?

A brief explanation and introduction


What is an innovation strategy?

Product development with a high degree of novelty is referred to as innovation. Depending on the degree of novelty, it is an incremental innovation (improvement and optimization of existing products) or a radical innovation or disruptive innovation (development of a revolutionary new product). In companies, this is implemented through innovation management. A product development process is often referred to as an innovation process.

Product development describes the process of creating a product. It begins with the analysis of future trends and customer needs, through technological idea generation and idea development, to technological implementation and market launch.

Product Development Tasks

The task of the product development is to maintain and increase the long-term competitiveness of a company through innovative products and features. The responsibilities of the product development therefore include not only the technological implementation, but also the support of the entire product development process.

Depending on the organizational structure, the analysis of customer needs and trends in some companies is the responsibility of marketing, while in others it is part of product development. In some companies the market launch lies with sales, in others also with product development. These structures may vary from company to company.

The Innolytics® innovation management software supports the entire product development process and thus supports the activities of product development. Customer needs and trends can be submitted, discussed and analyzed, ideas can be submitted, evaluated, developed into concepts and implemented.

The concrete tasks of product development include:

Idea generation and idea development for new product ideas

  • Development of a product concept based on the analysis of trends and customer needs

  • Production and presentation of prototypes

  • Assessment of the technological feasibility

  • Development of a concept for the creation of production and the establishment of the supply chain

  • Modification of product prototypes based on customer feedback

  • Accompaniment of the manufacturing process of a product

  • Accompaniment of the market launch

Product Development Stages

Product development can be divided into different stages. These stages build on each other, but are not necessarily linear and rigid. With new findings and changing market conditions, product development can jump back one stage, for example from the concept stage back to idea generation. These stages can be defined in the Innolytics® innovation management software. This provides companies with a transparent overview of which product idea is in which stages of product development.

Through client surveys, the evaluation of customer requests, the analysis of complaints and the evaluation of future trends, requirements are defined for a future product generation and thus for product development. This phase serves to define framework conditions for the development of new product functions or the development of completely new products with a high degree of innovativeness.

In this stage, different ideas are developed in order to implement the individual requirements of product development. Idea generation can be supported using classical creativity techniques, an innovation workshop, collaboration, co-creationopen innovation or crowdsourcing. The Innolytics® innovation management software supports the idea generation and evaluation phase. Customers and external parties can also be involved in this process.

New product ideas or ideas for new functions and features usually go through several stages of evaluation. A more general stage, in which the degree of novelty and the potential of a product idea are evaluated, and a detailed evaluation, in which questions such as a cost-benefit ratio and feasibility are evaluated. When evaluating ideas, it is important to distinguish between the customer perspective and the internal perspective. While customers primarily evaluate the benefit of a product for their applications, other criteria often count in the internal evaluation. The difference between these two assessment methods is an important building block in the phases of product development. The Innolytics® innovation management software supports these consecutive evaluation processes.

The best ideas are filtered out and supplemented by in-depth questions: What exactly can an implementation look like? Which technological implementation options exist? How is the patent situation? In the conceptual design stage of product development, these questions become increasingly important. The Innolytics® software supports this with so-called “growing concepts”. Depending on the stage of product development, additional in-depth questions may arise.

In the implementation stage, an innovation roadmap is defined in which the milestones up to market launch are defined. Depending on the complexity of product development (e.g. the involvement of suppliers), project plans are drawn up or agile project management methods are used.

The product is launched in a test market where it is tested for acceptance. In this critical phase of product development, companies try to limit the risk. For example, the final production line is often not yet built. The test market is served in the form of a prototype. Results and findings from these pilot stages flow into the modification of a product concept or change the roadmap and milestones.

It makes sense to divide product development into different stages. Especially when several product concepts are pursued at the same time, it provides the possibility to develop products in a transparent way.

Product Development Software

The Innolytics® innovation management software supports the entire product development process. It is currently in use as product development software in numerous companies. The product development process can be defined by the so-called “process manager”. Different evaluation procedures with different criteria can be set up, customers can be included in the development. The Innolytics® software is a powerful tool for companies to support their product development.

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