The 8 Stages of the Product Production Process Explained

Updated December 19, 2022

Businesses and entrepreneurs constantly look to develop new ideas. To turn an idea into a product, businesses typically rely on the product development process. If you're interested in producing a product or want to pursue a role related to product production, understanding this development process can help ensure you create a viable product.

In this article, we define product production and list the steps involved in the product development process.

What is product production?

Product production is the set of processes that takes something from an idea to a deliverable item. This includes generating a new idea, researching it, planning it out and eventually creating it. Businesses and individuals go through these steps each time they want to sell a new product. While each organization may carry out these steps differently, they all essentially follow the same procedures. By understanding the steps of the product development and production process, you can help create a well-thought-out new product and ensure you include every crucial detail along the way.

Related: What Is Product Development? (Plus Helpful Steps and Tips)

Stages in the product development process

To create and sell a new product, businesses typically follow these eight stages:

1. Generate an idea

Ideas typically come from identifying a need and designing a product that can solve it. Sometimes, this takes on the form of an entirely new product, or it simply can be an improvement upon an existing product. Individuals and teams conduct brainstorming sessions to generate new ideas for products. At this stage, you're simply trying to come up with one or several new ideas without too much concern for future viability.

Related: What Is a Brainstorming Exercise? (Plus 15 Exercises To Try)

2. Research your idea

After you settle on an idea for a new product, it's time to research it. There are several areas that you may want to investigate. The first is seeing if your idea already exists in some form. If it does, you may ask yourself how you can adjust your idea or improve upon the existing product.

Another area to research is the consumer demand for this product. Some businesses may conduct focus groups or send out surveys to determine if customers would like their new product. It's important during this stage to gather as many views as you can to help you decide if your new product is viable.

Related: What Does a Production Scheduler Do? (With Duties and Skills)

3. Plan out the product

Once you decide that you have a viable idea, the next step is to plan what the product might look like. During this phase, draw sketches, come up with features, plan out materials and determine how the product may function. This is where you figure out the details of your product. This may require more research, such as the best type of materials to use or how similar products work.

A good way to start is with a simple sketch of your concept. Although it's not a requirement for it to be a high-quality sketch, you can have someone sketch your idea for you if you're unsure of your artistic abilities. Once you have a rough sketch, you can begin making notes on it, such as your imagined measurements. Along with the sketch, make a list of any components that it contains.

Related: Complete Guide to Becoming a Production Operator

4. Create a prototype

A prototype is a working sample of your new product. Developing the first version of your product's important for a few reasons. First, it allows you to see if your current ideas work regarding materials or design. For example, after building the product, you may find that you could have used better materials. In addition, a prototype lets you test out the product to ensure it works.

You may go through a few prototypes before you settle on one that you like. The purpose of prototyping is to experiment with different ideas and gradually make progress toward your ideal product. To develop a prototype, you can either work to build your product yourself or hire a company to produce it for you. Which option you choose largely depends on the product you want to build, your abilities and your budget.

Related: 10 Types of Prototypes (With Explanations and Tips)

5. Establish a production process

After choosing a final prototype, the next step is to develop a process for producing this product. This step involves finding a source for your materials and choosing a method for production. Spend some time researching suppliers to determine which ones can provide you with materials at the most affordable price.

As for producing the product, you have a few options. Some new startup managers choose to build their products themselves. For example, you may purchase all the materials needed and assemble your product in your garage. Entrepreneurs often choose this option if they have limited funds when first starting. The other option is finding a manufacturer. Just like with suppliers, you can research different manufacturers and discuss your prototype with them. Then, compare different manufacturers against one another, considering the different costs and schedules available.

Related: Mass Production: Definition, Advantages and Disadvantages

6. Calculate your costs

Next, start considering all the costs involved with the product production process. Add up how much it may cost to secure all of your materials and manufacture your product. Then, add in any additional shipping costs you may have. If you conducted thorough research in the steps above, you should have a good idea of how much everything costs. During this stage, it's a good idea to compile all these numbers in a spreadsheet so you can keep track of them.

Related: Production Efficiency Formula: What It Is and Who Uses It

7. Determine a distribution plan

Before you sell your product, it's a good idea to determine how you can distribute it to customers. Think about how you want to pack products and ship them. Sometimes, you may do this yourself, while in others, the manufacturer ships completed orders directly to customers. Existing businesses likely have a distribution plan in place, but new teams often want to design a plan. Research your options and determine which distribution plan makes the most sense for your product.

Related: Distribution Strategy: Definition and Examples

8. Launch the product

The last step of the product development process is to market your product and take orders. You've put all the work into creating a viable product and a system for producing and distributing it. Now you can let people know about it and start generating sales. There are many ways you can do this, such as creating social media campaigns, running ads online and establishing deals to have your products sold in existing retail stores.


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