Product development best practices take design a step further by creating a strategy for entering the market. It’s a more holistic approach to product creation that provides everything the inventor needs for a viable manufacturing first run. By adhering to some basic best practices, creators can set the stage early for a successful future launch.
All good products start on a solid foundation of continuous improvement. Product design must be ever-evolving to speak to client demand, potential industry disruptors, and cost control. Without a robust strategy for product development, creators will be at the mercy of scope creep, which could cause their entire plan to fall apart. Best practices are the guideposts that keep the project on its correct path.
Four Product Development Best Practices
By adhering to the best practices of target user evaluation, design for manufacturing, stakeholder communication, risk assessments, and partner vetting, creators establish policies that support their business strategy for the long-term.
#1: Understand the target user
What are the target users’ biggest pain points, and how does this product address them? That is the vital question all creators must answer when they come up with a product. We can use the development of CrittEar, earplugs for pets, as an example. The creator saw a common issue pet owners had: their animal’s fear of loud noises. She created earplugs that were easy to use and affordable to speak to that pain point.
To thoroughly understand her audience, she had to evaluate her target market, what they were willing to pay, and the needs of their pets. By creating a detailed potential user profile, she was able to build a product that was affordable, desirable, and worked as intended.
#2: Take a design for manufacturing approach (DFM)
Even in the earliest stages of product development, creators must consider how much it will cost to manufacture the project later. Otherwise, they stand the risk of developing something that’s not cost-effective to make. They must consider not just the design, but the tooling and equipment needed in production, as well as potential materials. They must review how easy it is to recreate the product on a mass-market basis and evaluate potential challenges in the process.
This process can help them iron out issues early on, like if they’ve chosen a base material that’s not affordable or is difficult to source. It can also help them streamline their design and make overall production more cost-effective.
#3: Gain stakeholder buy-in with a detailed proposal
Most creators don’t have the money upfront needed to bring a product to market all on their own. Product development costs typically range between $10,000 and $30,000, and the exact figure can fluctuate considerably depending on the scale of the project. Product development is a major investment to make alone, and most creators need to find partners to buy into their design to gain the funds necessary to bring it to fruition. Creating a detailed proposal that explains pertinent parts of the project can help gain stakeholder confidence. This proposal should cover:
- A sketch or description of the project
- A target market profile
- The pain points it solves
- A rough timeline for all stages
- A budget for manufacturing
By covering these factors upfront, creators communicate their vision to the masses. They can gain the support needed for their design and manage any potential risks.
#4: Gauge current competitors and potential market risks
It’s important to get a clear understanding of potential competition in the product development stage to allow creators to pivot as needed. They must stay abreast of industry news, but it can also help to go a bit deeper. Completing a patent search aids a creator in discovering what other items are out in the market and what has the potential to disrupt the industry.
Consider the flip phones popular in the early 2000s. For a long time, it seemed the trend would continue the creation of smaller and smaller phones that consumers could easily carry. However, when Apple rolled out its first iPhone, touchscreens became the norm, and the flip phone market all but collapsed. Anyone working on innovations on the flip phone likely would have found their products obsolete as soon as they hit the market. That’s why constantly staying abreast of competitors is vital whether the creator is developing something unique or adding a new twist to an established product.
Choosing a Comprehensive Product Development Partner
The right production partners make all the difference when trying to bring innovation to the market. Creators should seek out a partner who can offer most of the needed services, for everything from prototyping to small manufacturing runs, from one single site. This shows they have knowledge of the entire product development stage and will be ready to make changes as needed.
One of the smartest product development best practices a creator should consider is choosing a collaborative partner. This partner should completely understand the creator’s vision and guide them through the best practices they should establish to ensure a successful launch.
PRL’s engineers have dozens of manufacturing options available to help you solve any challenge facing your product: CNC machining, custom tooling, 3D printing, thermoplastic molding, reverse engineering, and more. No matter what stage your product is currently at, we can create it and optimize it for manufacturing.