A new product development life cycle is a systematic approach used to guide the development and launch of new products. It is a roadmap that outlines the various stages a product goes through from user understanding to launch.

The human-centered product development life cycle that DISHER employs includes stages like user research, idea generation, concept development, engineering design, testing, and launch.

DISHER facilitates Innovation Workshops and Whiteboard Events to ignite the product development process with clients who are ready to bring new products to market quickly.

Manufacturers, product development teams, and entrepreneurs’ partner with product development experts for new product development to ensure that their efforts are efficient, effective, and optimized for success. By understanding user needs and identifying potential problems early, organizations reduce risk, mistakes, and rework.

A proven product development process will help your company save time and money and reach your business objectives.

Creating a New Product Development Process

Creating a product development process requires careful planning and coordination. We recommend alignment on the following before your new product process begins.

  • Define objectives and goals: Establish clear and measurable goals including timelines, budgets, and key performance indicators.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities: Identify your key players and assign clear roles and responsibilities to each team member.
  • Establish a product development timeline: Develop a timeline that outlines the key stages of the product development process and the dependencies between each stage.
  • Determine the resources required: Identify the resources that will be required to complete the product development process, including funding, personnel, equipment, and facilities.
  • Develop a risk management plan: Identify potential risks that could impact the product development process and develop a plan to mitigate or manage those risks.

The size of your organization, the industry you’re in, and the resources you have available will impact your product development process. For example, large organizations may have more complex approval processes with global considerations, and a greater emphasis on collaboration between departments.

In smaller organizations, the product development process may be more streamlined and agile. In certain industries like automotive and medical device, the product development process takes longer due to regulatory compliance, safety and quality standards, and additional testing/validation before commercialization.

We have found that organizations of all sizes can struggle with the human resources and expertise needed to move a new product through the various stages of the product development life cycle.

The Stages of the Product Development Cycle

The process typically includes seven stages, each with specific objectives and tasks. Having individual stages enables organizations to review and assess progress and identify any issues early to reduce the risk of costly mistakes and rework. A structured process also keeps everyone aligned and moving in the same direction and ensures the new product meets the needs of the target market. This is the process that DISHER uses for new product or feature development.

7 Steps of the Product Development Life Cycle

1. Research

The first step in human-centered product development is understanding the user. To solve problems with innovative solutions, we must understand the user’s pain points. This takes research. Too often, organizations skip research and start ideating solutions. After spending considerable time and resources, they realize the need for user research and problem definition. Gathering information and data to support the development of a new product is critical.

The research process typically involves input from a range of stakeholders including customers, product development teams, and marketing teams. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to gain valuable insights. DISHER offers both secondary and primary research services to our clients where we seek to understand the users, target market, competitors, and the problems that need to be solved.

Market research involves gathering data about the target market like demographics, purchasing behavior, and attitudes toward the product concept. Customer feedback is used to validate pain points and the needs and wants of the target market. Competitive analysis involves researching and comparing the products of competitors to identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities for differentiation. During this stage, a patent search may also be conducted to both protect new ideas and avoid any intellectual property entanglements.

A designer puts together images to benchmark for product development

For Example: A company developing a new line of healthy snacks may conduct research to understand the target market, gather customer feedback, and analyze the competitive landscape. Based on this research, the company may determine that there is high demand for snacks that are high in protein and low in sugar, and that there is an opportunity to differentiate itself from competitors by using unique and natural ingredients.

2. Ideation

Ideation is the next stage of the product development process. It involves generating and evaluating ideas for new products based on a solid understanding of the user’s needs. It sets the stage for the rest of the process.

Ideation is typically a collaborative effort, involving input from a diverse range of stakeholders, including product development and engineering teams, marketing teams, and customers. There are various ways to brainstorm. We facilitate Whiteboard Events and Innovation Workshops to help our clients create and vet the best ideas. The ideation stage can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the complexity of the product ideas and the resources available.

Industrial designers and conceptual engineers can help organizations generate as many potential product ideas as possible. Ideas can be formed through brainstorming sessions, market research, benchmarking, and user feedback. We then evaluate and prioritize the ideas based on their potential for success through the lens of user desirability, production feasibility, and commercial viability. When we have a clear and compelling idea for a product, it is time to move to the next stage of concept development and prototyping.

People ideating with whiteboards

For Example: A company specializing in outdoor camping gear may brainstorm ideas for new products by speaking with outdoor enthusiasts, researching trends in the industry, and considering the needs of customers. After evaluating and prioritizing the ideas generated, the company may move forward with developing a concept for a new, high-tech camping tent.

3. Concept Development & Prototyping

Ideas from the previous phase may not be realistic for many reasons. Stage three is all about bringing concepts into physical reality and maturing them into something demonstratable. DISHER builds minimal viable physical or digital models of product concepts to evaluate their design and functionality. Again, this can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the product and the resources available.

The concepting and prototyping stage typically involves input and feedback from a range of stakeholders, including product development teams, engineering teams, and customers. DISHER provides prototyping services of varying degrees of fidelity (physical and digital, works-like, and looks-like) to identify any product features or functions that need to be improved.

For Example: A company developing a new line of smart home thermostats will need a physical prototype developed to install and test for functionality and usability. Based on the results of the testing, the company may make modifications to the design, such as adding a larger display or simplifying the user interface.

4. Concept Testing

During or shortly after concept development, there may be usability studies done to determine the desirability of a product or a feature. Marketing or viability studies may be conducted to see what consumers are willing to pay. DISHER often performs a design of experiment (DOE) during this phase to understand some technical aspect of a design or prove a hypothesis.

During this stage, the product concept is evaluated to determine whether it works as intended, meets product requirements, and satisfies user needs. It is common to cycle between this stage and the concept and development stage until the concept is verified. Concept testing typically involves input from a range of stakeholders, including product development teams, quality assurance teams, and customers.

For Example: a company developing a new line of electric vehicles will conduct concept testing to ensure that the ideas being considered can meet the regulatory performance, safety, and quality standards. This may include evaluating the vehicles for acceleration, top speed, and range.

5. Engineering Development & Testing

The engineering development and testing stage involves transforming the prototype into a detailed design that meets all the requirements, has been tested, and can be manufactured. This stage can take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the complexity of the product and the resources available.

Engineering and testing involve input from a range of stakeholders, including product development teams, manufacturing engineering teams, and suppliers. The objective of the engineering development stage is to create a detailed design, typically a 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD), of the product or feature that can be manufactured and assembled in a cost-effective way.

The DISHER engineering team brings our clients exceptional CAD product design and development expertise and software acumen. In addition to creating detailed 3D drawings of products or features, DISHER engineers can help optimize the manufacturing process.

Machine Designer pointing to design on computer

We help manufacturing teams optimize their output with quality and lean systems, new or updated equipment, tooling/fixture design and development, automation integration, capital project management, and manufacturing layouts. We also can validate that manufacturing processes are capable of consistently producing quality parts in a cost-effective way.

At this stage, there is typically industry standard testing and validation requirements. DISHER engineers can design, develop, and conduct tests to ensure that the new product or feature meets all performance, safety, and quality requirements. Performance testing checks that the product meets the required specifications like speed, accuracy, and reliability. Safety testing ensures the product meets specific safety standards and does not pose a risk to users. Quality testing evaluates the product’s durability and reliability. Regulatory requirements also require rigorous testing.

For Example: A company developing a new line of smartphones will require detailed engineering design and testing of the devices. This may involve creating CAD for the devices and testing the devices to ensure that they meet performance, safety, and quality standards. Then the smartphone design will be analyzed for how feasible and cost-effective it is to produce.

6. Marketing

While marketing is involved throughout every phase of new product development, in this strategic stage marketers are focused on generating awareness and demand by communicating the product’s features and benefits to the target market.

New product marketing involves input from a range of stakeholders, including marketing teams, product development teams, sales teams, and customers. DISHER’s marketing team is equipped to come alongside your team and build your brand by developing targeted campaigns and creative resources that enable you to meet your business objectives.

New product marketing organizations can assist with a range of activities, including market research, product positioning, pricing, and promotion. Market research increases understanding of the target market and identifies the features and benefits that are most important. Effective product positioning will set your product apart from the competition. Determining the optimal price for the product is key to meeting ROI objectives, and a well-crafted promotional strategy will communicate the product’s features and benefits to the target audience through the right channels and tools.

A group of females in a meeting look at designs on a computer

For Example: A company launching a new medical device will engage in product marketing strategies to create demand for the product. This may involve market research to confirm the features and benefits that are most important to the doctors and hospitals using them, creating unique positioning for the product, determining a profitable and marketable price, and communicating the product’s benefits to the target audience through specific sales channels.

7. Launch

Product launch is the final stage of the product development process and involves bringing the product to the market and making it available for purchase.

Launching a new product or feature involves input from a range of stakeholders, including marketing, product development/engineering, sales, and logistics teams.

Clients often ask DISHER for program and project managers to coordinate the complex process of product launch in manufacturing environments. The objective of a successful launch is to achieve smooth commercialization and generate healthy demand for the product.

Activities like manufacturing training for machine operators, product training and demonstrations for sales teams, and advertising take place prior to and during launch. Product training is important to ensure that sales teams are equipped to answer customer questions and promote the product effectively. Product demonstrations provide customers with a hands-on experience and allow them to see its features and benefits first-hand. Advertising is used to generate demand for the product and communicate its features and benefits to the target market.

Man pointing in a manufacturing space

For Example: An appliance OEM is launching a new line of high efficiency washing machines. The launch may involve manufacturing/assembly line training, product training for sales teams, new feature demonstrations for distributors, and communicating the product’s benefits to the target market through advertising.

Post-Launch and Improvements

After a product is launched, continuous improvement practices should be put in place. DISHER offers our clients Value Analysis/Value Engineering (VAVE) to increase product quality and performance while reducing cost and waste. This stage begins after a product launches and continues for the life of the product.

Organizations should review and assess their products to identify areas for improvement and to ensure that the product continues to meet the needs of its target market. This can include customer feedback, market research, and sales data analysis. The information gathered helps organizations make updates and improvements to the product. Types of improvements may include bug fixes, feature enhancements, product design changes, or manufacturing process upgrades. The objective is to maintain the competitiveness and profitability of a product in the market and to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the user.

For Example: A company launching a new line of athletic footwear may conduct a post-launch review of the product to gather feedback from customers and assess its performance in the market. Based on the feedback, the company may make changes to the shoe, such as improving the materials, updating the design, or adding a new feature.

Product Strategy Help from DISHER

DISHER’s advanced product development team offers a full range of services to support your new product strategy with any stage of the product development life cycle. Our expertise and experience in product development, design, and engineering bring our clients great outcomes. Not only do we bring the cross-functional skill sets and multi-industry backgrounds to the table but positive, flexible, and collaborative soft skills. The breadth of our new product development work allows us to provide valuable insights, innovative solutions, and practical guidance for our clients.

How can We Move Your Ideas Forward? Connect With DISHER Today!

What stage of the new product development life cycle is slowing you down? We invite your organization to boost your creativity, increase speed to launch, and garner greater success in the marketplace with DISHER’s new product development team. Contact Us Today!