A well thought-out product development plan can help you avoid wasting time, money and business resources. Your plan will:

  • help you organise your product planning and research
  • understand your customers' views and expectations
  • accurately plan and resource your project

Your plan will also help you avoid:

  • overestimating and misreading your target market
  • launching a poorly designed product, or a product that doesn't meet the needs of your target customers
  • incorrectly pricing products
  • spending resources you don't have on higher than anticipated development costs
  • exposing your business to risks and threats from unexpected competition

To start developing your plan, undertake the following 6 steps.

1. Research your idea


Do a thorough business analysis:

  • Define or describe your idea - What exactly is the product or service you want to develop? Defining your product in these early stages will help to keep you on track.
  • Identify your market - What will set this product or service apart from your competition? What is the benefit of your proposed new product? What are your target customers’ frustrations with similar products on the market?

2. Make or build and test your prototype


Get a working prototype of your new product. Depending on the nature of the product, this stage might take a while:

  • Test test test! - Bring your product to a group of people, let them try it, and give them the opportunity to provide feedback.
  • Don't just use the product, misuse it - You need to find out whether or not your product will stand up to people throwing it around, dropping it, and the other trappings of real-life ownership. Is it fragile? Could it use some reinforcing?
  • Listen to your users - Use the feedback you get to improve your product as you go. Your users will be your biggest source of information.

3. Write a marketing strategy and plan


Once you've got your product in place, you need to figure out a strategy for marketing to your customers. What's your ‘thing’? Using a marketing plan is a great way to put your ideas in one place.

4. Launching your product


Deciding when, how and where to launch your product will determine its early impact on the market. Your marketing strategy and marketing plan will direct your product launch and help you make the most of opportunities to promote your business and product.

5. Keep reviewing your product


How are you going to keep your share of the market after your product is launched? How do you innovate to keep yourself ahead of other products and businesses? The better you're able to anticipate changes to your competition, market and audience, the stronger your product will remain.

6. Protect your idea


Once you've developed and refined your product, it's important you get the right intellectual property (IP) to protect your idea.

Automatic protection is given to copyrights, circuit layout rights, confidential information and trade secrets. However, you should also look into formally registering your IP so that you can stop competitors from copying your most valuable asset.