#Guides #Tech | 22 min read | Updated: 5/11/2022

Product Development Process Guide: 7 Stages + Expert Tips

Updated: 5/11/2022
, Project Lead
#Guides #Tech
22 min read

Once upon a time, things that are now part of our daily lives were just an idea that appeared in someone’s head. It was only after going through the full product development process, that companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, or Tesla became world-famous.

According to statistics from the McKinsey Global Institute, for every 7 product ideas, only 1 succeeds in the market. This results not from bad ideas but due to the wrong product development process and lack of market promotion.

In this article, Sloboda Studio shares several tips to successfully bring your ideas to life and effectively deliver your project.

What is a Product Development Process?

The product development process is certain stages that each company makes when building its own product. The process of product creation in different companies differs depending on 

  • industry and its specificity
  • type of products
  • timing of its implementation 

The product development process is complex. It comprises all the steps required to transform an idea into a successful market-available project strategy. Commonly the PDP includes:

  • idea generation
  • market research
  • MVP creation
  • quality assurance
  • launch
  • maintenance

Product Development Process:  TOP 5 Management Methodologies

A product development methodology is a prototype framework. It is used during the creation to manage, structure, plan, and management of the work process.

Every project is different. It has its own requirements and limitations like costs, building time, team size, tech stack, and management. Thus your project management may require a particular building methodology. And we’ll start our guide by overviewing the top available management frameworks.

Waterfall

A waterfall methodology is a linear approach to project management. Using Waterfall management, both team and customer set up management requirements at the beginning of the project. Then they create a sequential project management plan for the products.

Product Building: waterfall management methodology process

Flexible Product Development

This product development methodology is about being Agile. Using the flexible management method, the companies are able to continually make changes whether they appear at the beginning or at the late stages of product creation.

Using the Agile product development process, the companies can keep the cost changes low. But at the same time, it is possible to conduct such steps as modular architecture changes, management experimentations, and checking various designs. 

The most popular Agile management prototype frameworks are Scrum and Kanban:

  • Scrum 
  • Kanban 

This management methodology focuses on usability and the user experience of the products. Using a user-driven approach, a building team should pay particular attention to the established behavioral patterns of customers and implement a user-friendly design. 

Flexible Product development management process

Lean Product Development

Lean product development strategy strives to deliver the products in a short time. The process has fewer testing cycles and lower building costs. 

In general, lean product development is based on innovation management principles. It divides the building process into three parts depending on what customers need and require. Or what they want your product to have and what they wish it would have.

Lean product development management process

Extreme Programming

Extreme programming is another software creation strategy. This management method is perfect for products that require constant improvement in accordance with changing customer requirements.

Extreme programming also operates Agile management techniques. 

How Extreme management methodology works: 

The building management process consists of so-called feedback loops. During the building management process, a team makes frequent product releases in short cycles. And analyses clients’ and customers’ feedback. 

Such a methodology helps to develop a user-friendly product. Such a product is adapted to the target audience’s requirements and has an easy management structure.

Extreme Management Programming for products

Feature-Driven Development

This product management strategy also operates short iterations. 

As a rule, the FDD management model consists of five basic steps:

Concept & Initiation

This early-stage includes the concept of building ideas for an actual project launch.

Product Planning

This management stage consists of scope and budget planning. It may also include scheduling work, communication, and management, or risk predictions.

Execution

At this management stage, the team starts the creation of the product. It tracks tasks and analyses the market performance of each iteration.

Performance & Control

During the performance stage, the team analyses quality of the project. It also analyses the costs and general performance.

Сlosure

Naturally, the end of the project stage management. The project goes to the market.

Product Building: feature-driven development process

Product Development Process: 7 Key Stages

Throughout the software development process, every product starts with an idea. Then it goes through discovery, development, and testing to the final maintainable service. Let’s dive into some details about product creation steps and their strategy.

Product development process chart

Idea Generation

The first step is idea generation. It is about problem definition and specific ways to solve it. When companies start a product creation cycle with an in-house or outsourced team with high-quality management, they need a clear and detailed vision of their future project and its ideas. 

All businesses should get started with defining the problem they are going to solve at the first prototype step. It’s vital to search for competitors and their products. All of the market products solve some audience problems. Don’t forget about it when businesses develop new ideas.

The is a variety of problem statement techniques that helps businesses to define problems and ideas of audience in the market, but basically, companies should answer just 3W questions:

  • What is the problem?
  • Who has this problem?
  • Why is this a problem?

Another good strategy was “The 5 Whys” created by a Japanese investor and founder of Toyota Sakichi Toyoda. His advice was to ask five times about the product’s importance, ideas, and goals for its building. The businesses should ask why until a clear answer about ideas comes. This strategy is very effective.

Companies will be able to determine ways to solve the problem after they get to know their customers. Sometimes finding solutions to problems usually turns out to be much easier than expected.

When businesses find a solution to a problem, they need to ask themselves an important question: Will the audience pay for this decision? And how much are customers willing to pay?

Here at Sloboda Studio, we are confident that clear problems, ideas, and goals are the cornerstones of successful project implementation.

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Discovery phase

The second step is the Discovery phase. It is a process of evaluating the client’s thoughts and strategy. It is done by collecting information and various resources about the future project. During the discovery prototype at the second step, a team analyzes the market and target audience of the future product and its strategy. As well as goals, the scope of work, and even possible challenges or limitations.

The Discovery phase is one of the most important product phases. It helps to formalize the requirements for your future product.

Only after answering this question, you will know what exactly you are building. 

2 Parts of Project Discovery Phase: 

Business part

  • Market and strategy research
  • UVP creation
  • Requirements Definition
  • Roadmap and Management Tools

Technical part     

  • UX Concept Creation
  • Choosing tech stack & architecture
  • MVP Scope estimation

As a result of a discovery phase you have to obtain:

  • Software requirements specification (SRS Document)
  • Technology stack
  • Platform architecture
  • Product functionality
  • User journey map
  • Wireframes

NB: To create an efficient concept of the project, consider creating a business model canvas for your future project. 

Business model canvas helps to understand all your project goals, target audience, revenue models, and costs. 

Market Research

The next step is market research. This step may or may not be included in the discovery. It depends on whether the clients did market research earlier. Or maybe they would like to conduct it with the help of the building expert team.

In Sloboda Studio, we usually involve quality project management services, business analysts, and senior developers. Optionally we engage market specialists and CTO.

Market research helps to understand:

  • Market demand
  • Your customer needs
  • Current & future trends
  • Possible company risks 
  • Competitors and their advantages
  • Must-have features

UVP development

The next step is UVP or a unique selling proposition stands for the creation of your unique value proposition. In simple words, your UVP describes what specific benefits your customer will get by using your product.

Simply put, you have to answer the question. What will your product do for your customer that nothing else can?

Requirements Definition

The third step is the definition of requirements. All the research is complete. Now it is time to come up with the functionality and product requirements. There are two kinds of requirements: functional and non-functional. 

NB: There’s one common mistake for lots of startups. Most of them start the new product development with the features that founders like. Later, the team finally analyzes the market. And it often turns out that the choice of features was wrong. Many founders realize that their favorite features aren’t needed at all in the market. A solid requirements definition helps to save money resources and time.

What are the functional requirements

Functional requirements – are such requirements and resources that tell us what services your product should give. In short, those are technical requirements about such things as an indication of how the system responds to certain input data on this step. Plus, its behavior in particular situations. And sometimes even prototype indications of what your product shouldn’t do.

Some examples of functional requirements:

  • External Interfaces
  • Authorization
  • Regulatory Requirements
  • Authentication
  • Certification Requirements
  • Historical Data
  • Admin functions
  • Business rules

What are non-functional requirements

Non-functional requirements are such requirements that show the properties the product should have on this step. Besides, non-functional requirements can also include the restrictions your product should comply with. Like some bugs or functions that aren’t related to the system’s behavior. 

Some examples of non-functional requirements:

  • Environment
  • Security
  • Data Integration
  • Regulatory
  • Performance
  • Scalability
  • Availability
  • Usability

Roadmap Development

The fourth step is a product roadmap. It is a high-level prototype of your future product development process in this step. Moreover, the roadmap may also be used as a checker for your team. It shows the major steps of your development process. So it can help to compare what is going on at the moment. And analyze if the situation goes wrong.

3 tips for developing a roadmap in this step:

  • Give top priority to your strategy
  • Start with Product Vision 
  • Determine your product goals
  • Only then develop your product roadmap

Thus we move to the technical part of the discovery phase.

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UX Concept Creation

In the next step, companies move on to UX concept creation.  In this step, companies decide on how exactly their product should look. And how it would be interacting with the customers.

The final expression of the UX solutions is represented by a set of wireframes. As usual, they can be prototyped. 

Product development process: Wireframes product

Choosing the Tech Stack & Architecture

At this stage, we are taking into account all the features we chose earlier. We select a technology stack that is the best fit for their implementation

So, how to choose the right technologies for your product? The next step depends on what you want to implement.

In this step your tech stack will depend on:

  • Budget. Some technologies are more expensive than others
  • Time. Sometimes it is faster to use some out-ot-the box tools than use custom development
  • General complexity of the features -the more complex one will require more sophisticated technologies

In Sloboda Studio, we love working with the Ruby on Rails framework and PHP programming language. These technologies give us an opportunity to develop projects way faster. And, provide better speed and scalability.

Scope Estimation

At this stage, we analyze the technology stack we chose earlier. Also, we define how much time it would take to develop architecture.

This stage consists of:

  • Scope of work creation
  • Prioritization of tasks
  • Scope estimation
  • Scope specification
  • Roadmap compilation

NB: Depending on the financial state of your project, the next step of the development process might be seeking investments or moving to the coving stage right away.

Fundraising 

This is about looking for funds for your project.  Once you have decided on each fundraising step:

  • what your project is about
  • which user problems it solves
  • what features it has
  • how much time the building will take

Companies can start pitching their product thoughts and plan to investors.

NB: Use your business model canvas to pitch a product.

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Sloboda Studio prepared a list of top investment companies for your software development in 2022.

MVP Development

In this step, you’ve conducted a discovery phase and business analysis, came up with a tech stack, features to develop, UX concept, and maybe even raised investments… And only now it is time to start actually developing your product. 

In Sloboda Studio, we prefer developing products using Agile principles. Aka working in sprints, meeting daily to control our current working process, and weekly or monthly to discuss our results and phase plans. This helps us to provide better quality for our product. As we can phase test it right away, fix issues as fast as we notice them, and make rapid phrase changes.

Product development process: Agile methodology for products

The development stage includes such steps:

  • Back-End
  • Front-End
  • UI/UX Design
  • Quality Assurance
  • Maintenance

In Sloboda Studio, we also advise our customers to launch an MVP prototype. Firstly, Minimal Viable Product helps our clients to launch their products faster than their competitors. Secondly, we can analyze the customers’ reactions through different resources. So, the project has a special client test. Entrepreneurs can add or fix some features in accordance with people’s feedback.

After developing the MVP, a project moves to post-production activities. Usually, these are marketing, getting users’ feedback, developing a fully-featured product, and promoting.

Marketing Activities

The last step is marketing activities. They are at the end of the building phase. But in the real-life product development process we would recommend starting promoting a product once you begin the development phase. 

Some may say it’s too early to start a marketing campaign when you do not even have a product to promote. And that’s where they make a big mistake. There are a variety of available marketing tech activities. The choice always depends on the product type, target audience, and, surely, budget.

Typical steps of a campaign on the market would be:

  • Defining the goals of the campaign
  • Analyzing and segmenting of the target audience
  • Setting a budget
  • Selecting media and social channels on the market
  • Analyzing competitors’ campaigns
  • Developing your wording
  • Designing the creatives
  • Evaluation

New Product Development Process

The new product development process is a step-by-step process of validating a new product idea by the means of researching, planning, designing, and testing it, before launching a product into the market. 

The new product development (NDP) also differs from the product development process (PDP). New DP involves more validation of the idea on the market before companies can start their product.

Nevertheless, the product development process can include the product discovery phase, a vital step before the product development, which assesses the project’s competitiveness in the market, its design, and its use in the industry. 

PDP is a more complex process than new DP business and it includes product validation and testing, launch, and customer success involvement. 

According to Mckinsey global research, the failure rates for newly launched products are between 25%-45% and only one from 7 projects become successful. Using a structured step-by-step new PD approach, new companies have a great chance to avoid risks and possible pitfalls. 

The ability to check new products and services before wasting time and money resources is a wonderful opportunity for new businesses to survive.

New Project Process and Agile software creation process for products

Pros of New Product Development Process

Here are some of the main advantages companies can get from a new product development process on the market.

Better Idea Validation

With the start of new product development, business companies can build a better idea validation process by collecting evidence and testing different new product step hypotheses.

The purpose of idea validation is to introduce the realization plan to the practicality of the real world before companies create and release the final product on the market.

Improving Reputation

Creating a new product from scratch with attention to your new product increases user trust and creates a better reputation on the market.

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Cons of New Product Development Process

Changeability of New Functions

A new product may be subject to feature creep or scope creep, an ongoing addition of features that are out of scope. As a result, new features that weren’t estimated initially can make businesses plunge into financial turmoil.  

To avoid the changeability of functions, new businesses should only choose vendors based on honest clients’ reviews.

Product Development Process Challenges You May Face

When you are just starting your product development process, you will probably make some mistakes. And it’s OK! They are needed so you can gain experience and determine what is needed to upgrade.

Challenges are great as long as you are learning to make business decisions.

But still, some mistakes are pleasant to avoid when you are working on the software product development process flow.

Unclear requirements

Want a faster and more structured software development phase? Make sure you understand what you would actually want to get to each step. Still do not have a clear understanding of what features are required? Or how to monetize the business idea, discuss it with the team, or at least conduct a basic discovery phase by yourself.

Different expectations

When starting the new product, both the client and the team may have different expectations and points of view, and step vision. Different perceptions may cause problems later. For example, a team may insist on the deployment of some core features, but the clients just won’t understand the necessity of them just because of the lack of experience or step vision with this type of business project. 

To avoid misunderstandings, we recommend discussing clients’ and team’s expectations to synchronize and make sure you understand the future projects equally.

Redundancy

When the business project is brand-new, people often strive to include unnecessary functionality or start to develop more features than needed. This steals time and money resources but does not always make the prototype and the project itself better for the market.

For a lean product development process, focus on the core features, and start implementing your market plan with an MVP. Thus you can save valuable business time using the right step number, money, evaluate the idea, and only then build a fully-featured product. 

Ineffective communication

Lack of communication or various kinds of misunderstandings can provoke delays in the development phase and crash all the deadlines.

First, try to hire a team that is easy to communicate with. The agile method may also simplify the interaction issues. This methodology helps to track the tasks to see what your team is doing and to use regular meetings to get a clear vision of the working process and software team management.

Code coverage with automated tests

Admittedly, test coverage can be expensive and take about +50% of the time you need to implement a feature. That’s why sometimes you need to cover only the basic features.

On the other hand, this is an important feature, as far as test coverage is a key to a well-functioning code, and you can be sure that you can fix the product in case of a break.

Change of Scope

Sometimes customers change their minds about what features they want to implement too rapidly. We’re not against the changes, but an unexpected change of scope when the work is in full swing may slow down the product development process and demand an extra phase budget.

Another benefit of Agile – it allows all the changes with the developers to make sure everything goes as planned. The dev team constantly checks the backlog and monitors the workflow and informs our clients about the progress.

5 Tips: How to deliver successful products

People say, there are no universal business rules. That’s right, but still, we can give you some business tips to make the software development process and each stage more effective regardless of the type of your project.

Think about your users’ needs

Whatever question you tackle, think about what your clients need, which features would help them the best, how to make your product useful and comfortable for them. Remember that the users are the people who breathe life (and profit) and the product does not have to be admired by them, but not by your team or even you.

Conduct a discovery phase 

And only then jump on to the development business process. Don’t create a product in a vacuum. You should also remember to set realistic business deadlines: it is better to spend more time on development but come up with a quality product than hurry and get a product that nobody actually needs.

Communicate!

Use daily, weekly or monthly meetings, organize calls and video business chats, but keep on discussing the product with your team: when you have a clear vision, it is easy to make changes, share insights and avoid any issues.

Start with an MVP

If you plan to develop a massive product with lots of features, don’t try to implement everything at once. Focus on the core features and launch – this will help you to reduce the costs at the beginning phase, and attract first customers and investors. Later on, you can add all the advanced functionality to your already existing project.

Don’t forget about marketing

Let’s face it- no matter how great your product is if nobody is going to see it on the market. And here again, starting developing your project with an MVP you save budget and can invest it in marketing activities.

Business owners would like to know the effectiveness and efficiency of their financial investments. Here comes marketing performance.

MP helps to improve your product’s Return on investment (ROI). And analyze how effective your marketing campaigns are.

The marketing performance process includes measurement of the existing market performance and planning of your future campaigns while different phases.

Analytics

The vast majority of businesses use several different MarTech tools. These are advertising, direct market research to boost their sales. The three key types of data analytics are:

  • Descriptive analytics. Descriptive analytics describes the use of a range of historic data to draw comparisons.
  • Predictive analytics. Predictive analytics uses various statistical techniques. These are data mining, machine learning, or predictive modeling. They are needed to analyze data and predict future events on the market.
  • Prescriptive analytics. Prescriptive analytics also uses machine learning techniques to work with predictive analytics to determine the most possible market outcome.

Defining Metrics

This type of analytics uses various metrics to measure the performance of marketing initiatives.

During your market performance, you can also consider such factors as:

  • Feedback. Constructive communication with your customers will help you to understand what issues your product has. Or what features you may need to upgrade on the next step of improvement.
  • Activity. Or Inactivity. At this point, monitor how active your users are. Analyze this data. So you can understand whether your business ideas, design and its step, and features are beneficial for your audience.
  • User Management. That metric is whether your users are satisfied with your product and find it useful. You can track the engagement to improve your product’s convenience and user-friendliness on each step. 
  • Customer experience. Analyze your user’s experience in general and may be on each dev step. Ask them not only about what they are satisfied with. But also what they would like to add or improve. This information will give you a vector for further improvement actions and, maybe, design.

Our Experience

Salita

Salita is a Norwegian marketplace that allows interpreters to communicate using video and phone conferences and share their thoughts. When we met our client in the first phase, he had only a project idea. So our main goal was to turn it into an MVP (like the first prototype of Salita).

When we started, we needed a team of at least one backend developer, one frontend developer, and one QA. But we started only with one frontend developer. At the first step, we were working with some design features and first frames. After this, we grew the team with a backend developer and QAs.

Initially, we had Rails monolith with JQuery. In the next phase, we split this application into Rails backend and VueJS frontend. This allowed us to create design features faster and separately for the front-end and for the back-end. 

We also tried task record systems and different processes and in the end, we came and stayed with Gitlab.

Today, Salita is a finished marketplace that provides customers with online translation services.

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CityFALCON

CityFALCON is a 21st-century financial news aggregator. Its score rates financial tweets, market news, and authors by using Natural Language Processing

The Client met Sloboda Studio at the very early stages of the project, and we’re happy to say we’re still working on CityFALCON’s growth. The story started when our client decided to create a financial news website: he even studied Ruby and developed the MVP himself. But then decided that the project requires more scalability and started looking for new developers. So then we did find each other.

Our client wanted to launch a new and improved MVP with a focus on clean and simple UX design to demonstrate the huge potential of his social media aggregator.

Our Solutions:

In the first phase, we have improved the initial MVP by improving the design, building a scalable architecture, adding new processing, connecting GNIP API and basic scoring algorithm.

In the next stage, we launched the private beta, which included enterprise API scoring algorithm improvement and UX design analysis.

The public beta stage comprised adding scalable infrastructure, connecting voice devices, optimization of response time, upgrading scoring algorithm 2.0, and increasing the number of data sources and topics’ coverage.

And the final live product stage included a mobile application for Android & iOS platforms, voice assistants integration, and cryptocurrency coverage launch.

Cityfalcon financial news feed

CityFALCON Homepage

Conclusion

Product development is a complex process that requires your attention at most stages. Though it is not that hard to create a project of your dream and have a reliable expert team to bring your idea to life.

The core steps of your project creation would be:

  • Developing your idea
  • Conducting a thorough discovery phase
  • Carrying out business analysis
  • Set key functional and non-functional requirements
  • Choosing tech stack and set tasks for a team
  • MVP developing and testing
  • Providing a decent market promotion

In Sloboda Studio, we pay particular attention to business analysis and research. We are clearing up all the clients’ requirements to ensure that both clients and their users would get the dream products. 

Another thing we focus on is clear architecture and the most fitting tech stack to make products scalable and time-cost efficient.

Our experts are open to a free consultation. So companies can share their idea below and book a time slot for a free consultation for their products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Product development consists of 7 crucial steps:

1) Idea generation

2) Discovery phase

3) Requirements definition

4) Roadmap creation

5) Choosing the tech stack & architecture

6) MVP development

7) Marketing activities

 

There are four main stages of new product development:

Idea Validation Research

Business Formation

Design Concept

Product Development

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