A Guide to the 8 Phases of Product Development

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 29, 2022

Published June 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The product development phases are steps that advance an idea for a new product to completion. Understanding the phases of product development can help you guide the production process toward a more effective product that performs well on the market. In this article, we discuss what the product development process is, why it's important and what the different phases of the process are.

What is product development?

Product development covers the full process of creating a new product. The development process begins with identifying a potential need and progresses through all phases up to the completion of the project. Although not every product undergoes each phase of development, each phase provides value that may be useful on your next product's development.

Why is product development important for product developers?

If you're in a role responsible for creating new products, implementing product development phases can be beneficial. Some of the most important reasons to follow a structured product development process include:

Encouraging staff ideas

Often, a product development process includes an ideation phase. By opening up idea generation to members of your staff, you create an opportunity for more proposals while also engaging your staff creatively. This can help to maintain employee morale and help you identify individuals capable of advancing within your organization.

Raising product quality

The product development process can improve the quality of your final products in many ways. From generating more solutions to increasing information that aids research and development, an effective development process helps you refine your ideas. As a product moves through the phases, you can make adjustments to further improve quality, resulting in a more functional end product.

Meeting client needs

When developing a product for a client, the development phases help you better fulfill their requests. You can use information from your clients in conjunction with market research and product testing to create a product that meets the needs of your client. This can help generate a more lucrative relationship with the client, which may generate additional sales in the future.

Developing customer interest

Both the market research and marketing phases of product development contribute significantly to building interest in your product within your target demographics. While research allows you to find either a weakness in the market to fill with a new product or understand how you can enhance an existing product, marketing then shows consumers why your product is the solution they're seeking. With both phases working together, you can significantly improve your product's commercial performance by generating consumer interest.

Related: How To Create Urgency in Sales

Building your reputation

Improving your professional reputation is one of the most important ways to grow as a company. Following the phases of the product development process can improve the quality of your products, which can enhance your brand. A stronger reputation may help you find new clients and generate more sales.

What are the 8 product development phases?

When creating a new product, the development process provides phases that help you create and refine your product idea. Common phases in the development process include:

1. Discovery

The first step in many product development processes is identifying a need that the product can fill. This can include meeting with representatives of your company in order to discuss a situation in need of a new solution or engaging with consumers to learn about potential needs. This can also include assessing feedback from existing products to identify elements consumers liked and those that were less favorable.

2. Market research

Market research is a crucial phase in most development processes. Market research entails performing analysis on consumer data in order to identify useful information, such as consumer trends and demographic breakdowns on products or industries.

Market research can help you identify what members of a specific community are looking for. In some cases, companies may conduct the market research phase prior to the discovery phase, as market research can help identify market needs. Effective marketing research provides valuable information to help make decisions in later phases.

Related: How To Conduct Market Research

3. Ideation

Brainstorming new ideas can provide you with multiple options to pursue in the product development process. Often, the ideation phase benefits from including multiple staff members in the brainstorming process. During this time, a team leader might take an approach that encourages vocalizing all ideas to ensure any potential idea receives full team consideration.

Related: How To Run an Effective Brainstorming Session

4. Screening

After developing a list of potential ideas for a product, the screening phase allows you to reduce your options down to the most viable ideas. This phase often includes seeking opinions from those outside of the ideation process, such as staff responsible for the project execution, senior staff or the client. All of these steps help the product development team select the final idea or ideas to pursue throughout the rest of the process.

5. Concept development

Once you have chosen an idea to pursue, the concept development phase assesses the viability of the idea in depth. During this phase, you analyze both the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed approach for the product. This phase also includes determining your desired market for the product and assessing the viability of marketing to that demographic.

6. Product development

Following positive results from concept development, you can start the development of the new product. During this phase, you develop a prototype to use for testing. Often, a product undergoes many rounds of prototyping and adjusting prior to reaching its final form.

7. Training

When creating a new product, it is important to ensure that users can operate the product as intended. The training phase includes creating training documents or other aides that show consumers how to use the product. Often, training material production occurs at the same time as prototyping, with each update to the prototype triggering a corresponding update to the training materials. This can help those testing the products do so successfully, and it makes developing your final training document easier.

Related: How To Train the Team: Team Training Types and Tips

8. Commercialization

Although not required for products developed for internal use within your company, the final production phase is marketing and selling the product to consumers. This phase benefits significantly from market research, which can help you identify the demographics most likely to be interested in your product and the type of advertising they are most likely to respond to positively. By combining a high quality product with effective marketing, you may be able to increase sales and revenue.

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