This paper will discuss the generic product development process. The product development process represents the basic sequence of steps or activities that a firm employs to conceive, design, and bring a product to market (Jacobs & Chase, 2011). The process consists of six phases. Many of the phases involve intellectual activities rather than physical activities. Many firms use the generic product development process but others have more defined and precise process geared towards their functions and products.
The product development process is essential to all business. Product development is the process of designing, creating, and marketing an idea or project. The process goes through a continuous sequence of stages that should be completed in order for the project to be a success. Some firms define and follow precise and detailed development process, while others have no idea what their processes are. The textbook describes a generic product development process that consists of six phases. The six phases are planning, concept development, system-level design, detail design, testing and refinement, and production ramp-up.
The process begins with a planning phase. This phase is often referred to as “phase zero”. It is called phase zero because it precedes the project approval and launches the actual product development process. The planning phase begins with the corporate strategy and includes the assessment of technology developments and market objectives. The main output of the planning phase is the project’s mission statement. This is essential because it outlines the target market of the product, business goals, key assumptions and constraint of the project.
The mission statement is the key concept in beginning the first phase of the product development process-concept development. The textbook defines a concept as being a description of the form, function, and features of a product. During the concept development phase the needs of the target market are identified. The team also determines and evaluates alternative product concepts. After all concepts are discussed the team then selects one or more concepts are selected for further development and testing.
Oftentimes this phase is called idea generation. For example, at Merck and Company, concept development is known as idea generation. This phase is usually the result of the identification of a sociological, epidemic, pandemic or common need (Merck & Co Research, n.d.). The next step they take is to develop solutions to specific illnesses or conditions which lead them to the next phase of the product development process-the system level design phase.
System level design is the second phase in the product development process. From a design viewpoint, this phase includes the generation of alternative product architectures. This includes defining the major subsystems and interfaces of the project which lead to the final assembly scheme for the production system. From the marketing viewpoint, this phase develops a plan for product options and extended product family. It also sets target sale price points. The most important outputs of this phase are the geometric layout, a functional specification of the subsystems and a preliminary process flow diagram for the final assembly process.
The inputs for phase III are derived from the outputs from phase II. One of your first steps of creating a new product is gathering data and information that will be evaluated as a product. Corporations develop products based on consumer requirements that are translated into a product need and requirement. Having a clear understanding of what customer demands are and being focused reduces time to figure out how you will develop a market plan. During this phase the design and development team will complete all of the specifications for the final product. The Engineering departments will defined and develop the final prototype. The Engineering department will work with manufacturing to conduct pilot runs and produce product for testing. Marketing will prepare for all sorts of testing. Many market research techniques are used to encourage ideas including: running focus groups with consumers, channel members, and the company’s sales force; encouraging customer comments and suggestions via toll-free telephone numbers and website forms; and gaining insight on competitive product developments through secondary data sources. (Know This, 1998-2012).
Marketing would then start preparing for a launch date and execute the next step to manufacturing. “A failure to define the product before development begins is a major cause of both new-product failure and serious delays in time-to-market. In spite of the fact that early and stable product definition is consistently cited as a key to success, firms continue to perform poorly here” (Dr. Cooper & Dr. Edgett, 2006). The results of the study will reveal several insights regarding the blueprint. The products will have their chosen material to make the finish product. The specification will be documented, completed, tested and ready for manufacturer to produce. Meanwhile, the design team will have to resist from making product changes during development. Any altering away from the original design could result in a delay amongst training, marketing, or a launch date. Also these changes would result in lost time and require a formal review. Ultimately these things would result in time being lost and profits being postpone.
The likelihood of a successful product will depend on the time of the cycle and the product performance. Validation is done throughout the testing phase. But during this phase, it is to validate all of the study, testing, and refinement that were done on the final product. After developing a test plan that confirms that the product will meet the consumer needs and product specifications, the company will then begin to execute a promotion plan. The plan will include testing with customers, suppliers and partners, as well as internal testing with sales, service and manufacturing. “The key objective at this stage is to obtain useful forecasts of market size (e.g., overall demand), operational costs (e.g., production costs) and financial projections (e.g., sales and profits)” (Know This, 1998-2012). This phase is when you would submit your product to the proper regulatory agencies as appropriate well in advance of product release to ensure compliance to legal and environmental requirements by the planned launch date.
This is the time that corporations start carving out advertisement slogan that will motivate, have value, and be unique. This campaign should be trendy and convey any new development. Communicating the features and the benefits will be mostly important; it should convey new information, communicate the features and benefits that are most important. The team will review and finalize any plans accordingly, including revenue, expected product life, etc. Now it is time to develop and train a sales team that is excited about the product that they will be selling. This can only result in positive sales.
This final phase will concentrate on an early manufacturing and product release date. Manufacturing will ensure quality and market readiness from the final product. Along with making the product consumer ready, operations of the entire production will be on a tight schedule to meet launch date. “The transition from production ramp-up to ongoing production is usually gradual” (Chase & Jacobs, 2011, p 44). They also confirm that the manufacturing system is ready to handle the demands at product launch, including any special promotions and upgrades for existing customers.
It is important for companies to know that representatives from other functions such as research, finance, field service, and sales, also play key roles throughout the product development process. Companies must also after every phase evaluate the success of the completed phase and determine if the product or project worth the investment of time and money to continue or to be dissolved. In conclusion, launching a new business, product, or service, can be very demanding. Stay consumer driven, this will be the key to longevity. “To stay on top of all possible threats the marketer must monitor all aspects of the marketing mix and make changes as needed” (Know This, 1998-2012).
Cooper, Dr. Robert G. & Edgett, Dr. Scott J. Stage-Gate and the Critical Success Factors for New Product Development. Retrieved 7/18/2012, from www.betabptrends.com/.
Jacobs, F. R., & Chase, R. B. (1973). Operations and supply chain management. (13ed). New York, NY: McGraw- Hill/Irwin. Pages 42-46
Knowledge source for marketing since 1998. Retrieved July 18, 2012 from www.knowthis.com/princiiples-of-market-tutorials/managing-products/product-
Merck and Company Research, Discovery and Development (n.d). Retrieved 6 July 2012 from Merck and Company web page http://www.merck.com/research/discovery-and-development/home/html.