Product R&D

Our Product Development Methodology

Whilst product development is a creative process it should be approached in a methodical manner.  Companies that are successful at sustained product development have shown that this should not be left to a “hit and miss” approach.  Product Development should therefore take place in a structured environment, even if at times the process appears to be a little chaotic!

Our product development methodology comprises of the following steps:


The product launch is the phase where you execute the marketing and sales plan that has been developed. An essential component in this process is to measure and monitor the actual expected sales against the expectations that were established during the plannings and final design stages.
Once the product is launch the real work starts. Whether a product launch is successful or below expectations there is a need to constantly measure, monitor and adjust. Even highly successful product launches require adjustments. There are always lessons being learnt along the way. The process of receiving feedback, whether positive or negative, need to be recorded, assessed and if required, the necessary adjustments need to be made.
The Maintenance and Support Phase is the most often neglected phase when it comes to the product research and development team. In many cases the product is “handed over” to the business once launched and the product research and development team moves onto the next project.

A critical process of developing a proficient research and development team is to ensure that they are involved in the launch for a considerable (this varies depending on the product and company) so that they are able to learn the lessons along during the process. Being involved and learning what works and what does not work will ensure that future product launches are better.

There are two aspects of the concept of Product Ideation.

Product Ideas Dump

During the Product Ideas Dump, the product research and development team aims to identify a wide variety of product ideas.  The intention is not to analyse any of the ideas in detail, but rather to be creative and think of all potential new ideas.

Once the team has identified a number of opportunities and ideas, it is imperative that they spend some time prioritising the ideas.  This prioritisation process should provide the R&D team with guidelines as to which product ideas should receive their immediate attention and which product ideas are on the horizon.

Individual Product Ideation

Developing the details of a Product Idea requires an initial process to present the idea to the product research and development team and to “Idea Storm” some basic ideas. The intention of this process is not to develop the product but rather to come up with some thoughts and ideas for the project team to work with.  The intention is to allow some of the creative juices to flow so that the team is energised for the next step, which is conducting a feasibility study.

The key to the development of the product concept is to identify the actual problem or the opportunity that the product aims to address. Based on some of the ideas obtained in the Ideation exercise, the team now needs to develop the product in greater detail.

This process con be done by answering some of the following questions:

  • Who is the potential customer?
  • What is the problem / opportunity / risk that the client faces?
  • Describe the target market?
  • What are the clients actual (rather than perceived) risks?
  • Is there a demand for the product or products like the one being proposed?
  • What is unique about the product?
  • What additional research will be required?
  • What operational infrastructure will be required?

In this process it is not essential that all the risks are addressed but that the management and product research and development team have sufficient information available to make an informed decision going forward.

The feasibility study is the process of assessing the product concept and the business opportunity through research, financial analysis, technical viability study and some basic market assessment.

The intention of this exercise is to present the management and the team with a product proposal in order that they can proceed to a in principal decision.

Once the feasibility study of the product concept has been completed it is neccesary to make a formal decision whether to proceed with the complete development of the product. This process requires and assessment of the practical design, marketability and financial viability. Once the decision is made. the team will proceed to the final development of the product. The team may decide that there is further research be conducted before making the final decision.

This is a key aspect of the product development process. All too often products that are launched are not commercially viable. This phase ensures that the team is engaged with product development that has the greatest opportunity for success.

The product launch is the phase where you execute the marketing and sales plan that has been developed. An essential component in this process is to measure and monitor the actual expected sales against the expectations that were established during the plannings and final design stages.
The post launch analysis should include the following activities (amongst others):

  • Comparison of actual sales against budgeted sales
  • Analysis of profitability of the product launch
  • Analysis of effectiveness of marketing strategy
  • Analysis of price points
  • Operational effectiveness in support of the product
  • Customer satisfaction with the product launched

This analysis should be reviewed on a regular basis.

Once the product is launch the real work starts.  Whether a product launch is successful or below expectations there is a need to constantly measure, monitor and adjust.  Even highly successful product launches require adjustments.  There are always lessons being learnt along the way.  The process of receiving feedback, whether positive or negative, need to be recorded, assessed and if required, the necessary adjustments need to be made.

The Maintenance and Support Phase is the most often neglected phase when it comes to the product research and development team.  In many cases the product is “handed over” to the business once launched and the product research and development team moves onto the next project.

A critical process of developing a proficient research and development team is to ensure that they are involved in the launch for a considerable (this varies depending on the product and company) so that they are able to learn the lessons along during the process. Being involved and learning what works and what does not work will ensure that future product launches are better.

In the development process there are a number of points to consider. These are discussed separately due to the focus being different from the overall process.

Historically this has been know as “Brainstorming”. An essential element of any creative process is to ensure that there is a free flow of new ideas. The process of collecting as many ideas as possible ensures that all aspects, irrespective of how crazy the ideas may seem, are considered.

When Idea Storming there are a few things to consider:

  • Ensure that there is a positive environment
  • Allow for crazy ideas
  • Ensure that you use an independent ideation facilitator
  • Preferably utilise an neutral venue

What are the benefits of using an independent ideation facilitator?

Independent facilitators are not encumbered by existing office politics and this enable them to create and environment in which the Ideation Workshop can be conducted without the hindrance of the existing office structures and politics.

Pivoting

The process of “pivoting” in the product research and development process is where a team may change direction or strategy in the development process.  The feedback or additional information may result in the team realising that the actual product needs to be significantly different from the current product.

Pivoting may result in a significant saving in time, energy and money.  It is important that issues of pride and over commitment do not hinder this tough decision making.  These decisions are not made lightly but they may result in preventing significant damage to the brand arising from a failed launch.