Product planning and development is actually pretty glamorous. Everyone wants to be a part of the process through which a company comes up with new ideas.
A product management team will analyze ideas and come up with a plan to convert them into tangible items. The next step is to come up with policies and strategies to govern the launch and continued development of these products.
“To become successful, getting products to market in a timely manner is crucial.” George Davison – Inventionland
Product planning is also concerned with making improvements on existing products and services. This often results in brand new products or services. The two main parts are product design and product engineering. The process of product planning and development lasts from the conception of a product idea to the launch of the product in the market.
“Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.” – Willy Wonka.
Of course, Willy was aware this added up to 105%.
There are a number of objectives that drive a product planning and development initiative. One of these is to replace products that are obsolete. A company can also embark on product planning to stabilize or improve the sales of its products. Another driving force is to make use of any spare capacity in its manufacturing plant or to decrease risk and beat the competition. There are a number of steps that are involved in product planning and development. Each step provides special benefits to product managers.
The conception of a product idea
This is like asking a writer where he gets his ideas, but I will attempt to give it a go.
A new product normally comes from a new idea. To produce a brand new product, everyone in a company must come together to brainstorm. The ideas that they come up with may eventually be added to the product line. These ideas seek to solve problems faced by the consumers or to fill in a gap in the market. Product managers benefit from this step by being able to interact with the representatives of various departments of the company in developing something new.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Creating a concept statement for product planning and development
Time to dig a little deeper.
if an idea is a kernel, then the concept statement is a full ear of corn. Oh yeah, I went there. In the concept statement, the stakeholders decide what features a product will have what it will look like and its overall style. The price and distribution plan is also discussed at this point. I would like to sit in one of these meetings at the Ferrari Factory. Every time they drop a price it must fall like a cinderblock. For example, the new 458 GTB starts at over $232,000. That is a spicy meatball.
This step is beneficial to product managers because they are able to have a voice in the overall presentation of the product.
“The client is not always right” – Enzo Ferrari
Deliberating in focus groups
Focus groups are important in product planning and development. They are used to introduce the product to a select group of potential customers. Naturally the information that is derived from focus groups is valuable to a company. This is because it represents possible market reactions. The process of product development can involve over one hundred focus groups. You might think that sounds like a pain and you would be right. It is totally worth it, though. Companies conduct as many as they can and then tabulate the results to come up with a conclusion. Product managers are able to get a lot of information from this step and it assists them in producing a final product that is superb.
In a famous “Simpsons” episode, the kids are in a focus group where they are asked to test “Itchy and Scratchy cartoons. Their opinions are so varied that the cartoon creators realize that the kids want: “A realistic, down-to-earth show… that’s completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots?”
Milhouse van Houten adds: “And also, you should win things by watching.”
Everyone wants to release a product that its high quality and fills a unique segment of the market. The above steps work together for the purpose of releasing a high-quality product. Product managers, in general, benefit greatly from this process.