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Product Development Life Cycle – Steps to Follow

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Developing and finally launching a product can often make or break a business, especially a startup. Every startup begins with the seed of an idea. Ideas can be driven by analytics or fueled by creativity.

But how to transform those ideas into a complete product that customers can use in real life. How to choose the best idea among all that helps to drive more ROI and how to deliver the best customer experience.

Acknowledging and using the product development life cycle aids teams in executing agile product development, which is highly significant in an ever-evolving market.

Teams can envision their work and keep measuring it through different development stages. It guides project managers through the development process and enhances visibility into employees’ work to build an excellent product.

Product Development Lifecycle – Definition 

A product development lifecycle is a series of different actions needed to plan, develop, produce, and sell a product. Based on your development process stages, you need to focus on research, planning, investment, design, testing, manufacturing, and marketing.

In each phase of the product development lifecycle, a different team is accountable for the basic efforts. Decision-makers focus on certain things, and marketers build various strategies.

Product Development Lifecycle Stages 

While developing a new product, there are four key phases,

  1. Introduction
  2. Growth
  3. Maturity
  4. Decline

But, this is specifically for established businesses.

For startups, there are some more stages to follow.

  1. The idea brainstorm
  2. Market Evaluation
  3. Creating an MVP
  4. Gaining customers’ feedback
  5. Modification of the product or service
  6. The Introductory Stage
  7. Growth
  8. Maturity
  9. Decline

Let’s explore each Phase.

1. The Idea Brainstorming 

The first step is brainstorming to generate a unique idea for your product. Interact with some of the employees, especially those who are constantly dealing with customers. Examine customers feedback on existing products.

Assess your industry niche to discover any gaps where any useful products do not exist. Create an online survey. Make a list of all ideas for new products.

2. Market Evaluation

From acknowledging needs to testing products and enhancing their performance to determining their place in the near and distant future, market evaluation is a highly significant facet in the product development life cycle.

Market evaluation captures customer preferences, enables entrepreneurs to comprehend the end-user experience, and prioritizes the “Wants” and “Needs” of customers.

Eventually, conducting market evaluation throughout the product development lifecycle is crucial to measuring market demand and ensuring that the end product addresses users’ demands.

3. Creating an MVP 

Product development becomes highly efficient when the agile scrum methodology is merged with the lean startup approach. Lean startups understand the Difference between MVP and Prototype and integrate both in a structured process. It helps to turn business ideas into solid, detailed proposals.

Minimum Viable Products comprises the basic components and features of a product that addresses the core needs of end-users. MVP helps developers with an efficient development process highly focused on market demands. And this is one of the key reasons why MVP is significant in the product development lifecycle.

4. Gaining Customer’s Feedback 

Acknowledging how customers view your MVP product is valuable for any business. Gaining feedback from the customer helps with,

  • Improve products and services
  • Measure customer satisfaction
  • Build stronger relations by valuing their opinion
  • Generate the best customer experience
  • Improve customer retention
  • A reliable source for information
  • Improved business decisions
  • Meet the key metrics
  • Provide competitive edge

Businesses gain significant insights into what needs to be changed to have a successful feature-packed product launch.

5. Modification of the Product  

Consistent customer feedback is important to the success of any product or service. But it’s not just all about collecting it and adding to the product roadmap.

Based on the users’ feedback on the MVP, the changes need to be repeated before finalizing products that address users’ expectations.

Loyal customers’ feedback helps grow business faster than any sales or marketing strategy.

6. The Introductory Stage

This is when the product arrives on the market. Businesses need to build the brand and receive customer acceptance by promoting the product, creating a base of early endorsers, managing distribution strategy, building the price, and managing intellectual property rights.

This phase is quite risky. A business can face some difficulties such as low-profit margin, sluggish sales, big marketing budget, spending more time on educating customers, etc.

7. Growth

This is the phase when business earnings are at their peak. It will boost rapidly, and it might reach its highest before the product reaches the maturity phase.

In this stage, businesses have a client base, business awareness increases, and new customers connect with the business network. In the growth phase,

  • The product should of superior quality
  • Stable price policy
  • Continue investment in marketing strategies to generate customer loyalty
  • Discover the highly efficient distribution channels
  • Keep adding new features and enhancing product design

8. Maturity 

After rapid growth, now it’s time to stabilize and saturate. In the maturity stage, the sales will be at the highest and many customers are already using the product.

For further growth and product betterment, businesses need to develop new features and functionalities. To stay competitive,

  • Improve already existing features
  • Plan new improvement
  • Explore new market
  • Explore new distribution channel
  • Keep prices low
  • Keep investing in marketing

9. Decline

In this phase, businesses can face a gradual decrease in their profits. So, here are some things businesses need to consider.

  • Be ready to lose some of the customers to newer product
  • Cut down prices as lowest as possible
  • Work on an alternative product or improved version of the current one
  • Change the target audience to gain interest

This shrink can be because of the saturated market, or as the customers are switching to a newer or different type of product.

Summing Up 

Following product development life cycle will ensure businesses that their product is all set for the market. Businesses will grab the best opportunity to succeed by leveraging discovery tactics, launching products in small iterations, and constant innovation.

There are no guarantees that the product will fulfill all the expectations. But the product development life cycle will definitely create a sense of control over the development process.

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