8 Steps in the Product Production and Development Process

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 15, 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.

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 your own 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 that you don't miss any crucial details along the way.

Related: Guide To Understanding Product Development

Steps in the product development process

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

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, while other times it's simply 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: 15 Brainstorming Exercises To Generate Ideas

2. Research your idea

After you have settled on a single idea for a new product, it's time to research it. There are several areas that you will 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 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 different views as you can to help you decide if your new product is viable.

3. Plan out the product

Once you decide that you have a viable idea, the next step is to begin planning out 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 start to 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. While it doesn't need to be a high-quality sketch, you can hire someone to 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.

4. Create a prototype

A prototype is a working sample of your new product. Developing the first version of your product is important for a few reasons. First, it allows you to see if your current ideas work in regard to 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'll likely 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)

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 out. 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.

6. Calculate your costs

Next, start considering all the costs involved with the product production process. Add up how much it will 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 as to how much everything costs. During this stage, it's a good idea to compile all these numbers in a single spreadsheet so that you can keep track of them.

7. Determine a distribution plan

Before you start selling your product, it's a good idea to determine how you can distribute it to customers. Think about how you want to pack up products and ship them. In some cases, you may do this yourself, while in others, the manufacturer ships completed orders directly to customers. Existing businesses likely already have a distribution plan in place, but new businesses typically need 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 start marketing your product and taking 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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