Crash Course in Product Development Part 1

| By:
Linda Brotherton

Research & Develop

We talked about the what to ask when making product development process changes in our last post. But now it’s time to discuss a more in-depth approach to covering those 10 vital success factors. We’ll break this into four parts.

In this four-part product development process series, we’ll outline best practices for (1) research and development, (2) conceiving and realizing, (3) designing and building, and (4) going to market.

But right now, let’s jump into good ol’ R&D.

While pretty straightforward, this essential process helps you identify the following elements that will craft many features of your end product. In a nutshell, a good R&D phase should tell you:

1. What problem you’re solving.

Before jumping into cool functionality and design, you have to understand the ultimate purpose of your product or service. Clearly define what you’re solving for. Anything that doesn’t achieve that purpose is just a ‘nice to have.’

2. Why that problem needs to be solved.

Not every problem is annoying enough that people will pay money to solve it. Survey your target audience to ensure there’s a big enough pain or annoyance to support the need for your product.

3. How many competitors are currently solving that problem.

Is the market already flooded with companies that do that same thing you’re trying to achieve? Sometimes it’s better to partner than create something from the ground up.

 4. How you’re solving that problem in a different/better way.

It’s okay to have a ‘me too’ product if it’s somehow different or better. Just make sure you can demonstrate the value of that difference.

 5. Who your target audience is.

The more specific you can get, the better. While your product might be great for everyone in the world, I’m willing to bet your marketing budget won’t support that kind of reach (few can), so focus on (and design for) your best potential targets.

6. Why your target audience should want your product over another.

Remember how hot the Roomba was a few years ago? The autonomous vacuuming device retailed for a whopping $500 per unit. Even though it cost two to five times as much as an average vacuum cleaner, the allure of automation made many feel it was a worthwhile purchase. Think about how your product will create this same kind of perceived value.

7. If this product makes sense for your business.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably in IT. And if you’re a technology-related company, it probably doesn’t make sense for you to start selling ice cream. Make sure any products you add clearly relate back to the core mission of your company. And if they don’t, either don’t move forward, or consider trying them under a different umbrella.

Here at ConnectWise, every product we add to our line card is measured against one question: Will this help ConnectWise partners be more successful? If the answer is ‘yes,’ we start developing and stress testing, but if the answer is ‘no,’ we walk away. Simply put, understand your core value, and then don’t deviate from it.

But wait, there’s more.

Check back in the coming weeks for the next three installments of this series. In part two, we’ll talk about the ‘conceiving and realizing’ phase of product development.