Product Development and the Need for User Research

product development

In manufacturing and engineering, product development encompasses the full procedure of bringing a product into the marketplace, revising an existing product, or introducing a product into a completely new market. A key aspect of PD is product testing, and various other business considerations. The overall objective of PD is to identify and eliminate manufacturing or developmental problems before the product goes to production. Because of the considerable costs involved in product development activities, many organizations find it necessary to outsource some or all of these activities. Outsourcing not only eases financial management but also reduces operating overhead.

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In addition to outsource some PD tasks, many companies choose to build their own product development team. For companies with sufficient resources, this option presents the possibility to significantly reduce overall expenses. The challenge for building your own team, however, lies in understanding which processes should be included in the iterative product development life-cycle. Here are five important checkpoints to evaluate when creating your own product development team:

* Develop a product roadmap. Your product roadmap should provide a detailed depiction of your product development activities. The roadmap should highlight key milestones and associated cost estimates, as well as provide information on the number of customer sessions and evaluations that will be conducted, how long each series of sessions will take, the number of product updates anticipated, and the expected final delivery date. Your product roadmap will also need to include a significant theme or guiding principles section, to ensure that you are implementing the key topics effectively and in a timely manner.

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* Outsource some of the tasks. In many instances, companies that perform too many product development functions find themselves duplicating efforts, diverting time and resources, and costing more money than they would for a single function to serve a single customer. In addition, by outsourcing certain tasks, you will allow for the effective and timely completion of other important functions. Many teams across many organizations underestimate the value of outsourcing some or all of their product development functions, but when it comes to improving your overall process, this is an expensive mistake.

* Drive stakeholder engagement. One of the most critical elements of product development involves engaging with key stakeholder groups early in the process. When you engage stakeholder groups early, you give them a chance to get a better feel for the product idea, including the need they may have for using it. This will help you determine whether there is a need for a series of user studies, as well as providing feedback on whether a concept is something that the target market is already interested in. Engaging stakeholder groups in the process will go a long way toward ensuring that a concept gets properly developed.

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* Conduct market testing. Once you have determined that a concept development company is right for you, the next step is to conduct market testing. Conducting market tests is essentially an attempt to validate your concept development and allow you to develop a realistic need based on user data. By conducting market testing, you will gain an understanding of the viability of a new product as well as knowing exactly what kind of sales and marketing response you should expect. This is the final step before your product launch.

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