Product development is the entire journey of bringing a product from its conceptualization to release in the market and beyond. It involves transforming an idea or concept into a tangible and marketable product. This process typically involves stages such as ideation, design, prototyping, testing, and refinement, culminating in the creation of a final product ready for market launch.

Product development is a dynamic process that involves collaboration among various teams, including product managers, designers, engineers, marketers, and stakeholders. Through constant iteration, feedback, and refinement, product development aims to create solutions that address customer needs, fulfill market demands, and drive business growth.

The product development team

A solid product development team will be knowledgeable in three main spheres: business, technologies, and user experience.

These development teams play a pivotal role in creating and delivering new products to the market. Each team member contributes unique perspectives and competencies, including product managers, designers, engineers, marketers, and quality assurance specialists. Their collective efforts aim to align product development with customer needs, market demands, and business objectives, ensuring that the final product meets or exceeds expectations.

The product management lifecycle: 5 key phases

This article will outline the 5 most critical phases in the product management lifecycle process in terms of development. Each phase aims to achieve a more streamlined production process that plays an essential part in defining, designing, building, testing, and delivering the product so it can live its best life.

Phase one: idea generation

Sticky note with a drawing of a light bulb

The first phase is crucial in guiding the overall process of product development and in laying the foundations for all other phases. It involves brainstorming, fleshing out a concept, and sharing innovative ideas.

A product development manager should actively analyze current trends and identify opportunities to develop a new successful product or improve an existing one by adding necessary features. While building something fundamentally ‘new’ can be creatively fulfilling, many of the best ideas result from integrating an existing product.

For example, although the vacuum cleaner had already been invented by the time James Dyson was on the scene, the Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner, with a centrifugal force that drew dust into a clear canister and allowed for maximum suction, was revolutionary.

It was the newfound capabilities it provided that allowed the vacuum to take off as well as it did. James Dyson's new direction in branching off of an existing product brought the entire company great success, with Dyson’s work being a classic example of how to incorporate timeless innovation in collaboration with new technology.

Phase two: screening

The screening stage is designed to filter out the viable ideas from those originally generated. Discouraging and ultimately eliminating the pursuit of costly, unfeasible ideas and unnecessary variation in workloads and work processes, which lead to distractions and delays. Product managers play a crucial role in defining the long-term mission of a project and building a clear, realistic plan to reach the desired result at this stage.

Decisions made throughout the screening phase are greatly affected by external industry factors with analyzing competition, legislation, and changes in technology all having a major influence on the organization’s decision criteria.

Analyzing, testing and researching, and checking to see if someone doesn’t already have a patent on your exact product idea are all crucial to this process as a patent protects an idea for a specific invention for a certain period. If you were to spend the money to manufacture and sell a product without checking for an existing patent, it could lead to expensive conflicts.

Phase three: product concept development

Concept development involves the business conducting a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to a potential gap in the existing market.

SWOT Analysis

Undertaking research and finding out potential costs, revenues, and profits arising from the product all come under phase three. This phase is, arguably, the most critical stage of the entire development process. After all, keeping the target audience at the forefront throughout the entire process is crucial.

At this stage, the product manager needs to ensure that all team members work harmoniously to achieve the main goal by clearly communicating the requirements to the development team and organizing the development process in the most efficient yet effective way.

A focus group should have the opportunity to review a sample of the new product, proposed advertisements, and key product features and the thoughts and opinions of this target group should be taken into consideration with high regard, as having customers buy your products or services is the ultimate goal.

Truly, the importance of gaining feedback from a substantial and unbiased audience for product validation cannot be stressed enough. Posing questions to the focus group would be an insightful way of determining how likely it is that members are to buy the product.

Phase four: product development

logo pieces - building a product / product development

Phase four entails the actual design and building of the product. Product development commences with the building of a prototype, which facilitates market testing. In other words, bringing the product to life by creating an MVP to use as a sample for a successful launch.

The results of testing and prototyping will make it clear whether the idea should be pursued further and whether large-scale production will be necessary. Unfortunately, it is unlikely you’ll produce a finished product in a single attempt—prototyping usually involves experimenting with several versions of your product, slowly eliminating options, and making improvements until you feel satisfied with a final sample.

James Dyson, for instance, is fanatical about product ideation and development, famously working on 5,127 prototypes before launching the first vacuum model (which is patented). In an interview by Fast Company in May 2007, Dyson asserted the importance of failure in one's life:

"I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one.”

This rigorous process not only made the product incredibly hard to copy but also shows in a much broader sense how even one of the greatest engineers of this generation battled failure many times.

Yet, today his work has become inspiring to many, something which is often sought after yet rarely achieved. Although many product developers seek to cultivate a culture of innovation to the grand level of James Dyson’s foundation, many often lose the ability to distance themselves from the financial side of making money from the product(s) that they are selling.

Despite its stressful and, at times, emotionally draining moments, product development should be an enjoyable process that nurtures creativity and encourages the next generation of PMs.

It’s only once the product manager has made the final decision on what the end product should be like that the entire process can move forward in its development and, ultimately, be launched.

Your go-to guide to product development
We break down the product development life cycle; from coming up with the initial idea all the way through to launch. Here’s the go-to guide.

Phase five: commercialization and rollout

The final phase of the new-product development process sometimes offers a price discount during a product launch, providing potential customers with the incentive to buy the product. If a product is sold at a reasonably discounted price, it is more likely to be spoken of by ‘word of mouth’ and engage focuses on commercializing the new product. This phase includes test marketing, launch, and evaluation.

This final phase is significant in the delivery of the overall project, with the market research conducted during the conception stage greatly influencing the timing and location of the product launch. It's common, in many cases, for a product development team to hand over the reins to the marketing team for a product launch, with a promotion campaign for the new product being a vital part of getting the product out there and into the world.

Test marketing

Product managers often collaborate with product marketing managers at this stage due to marketing being one of the major contributing factors to a product’s success. Marketing involves researching, observing current industry trends, collecting and analyzing customer feedback, defining pricing, and developing a marketing strategy.

The goal of test marketing is to improve the success of the product launch. The marketer will usually launch the marketing plan to a smaller subset of the market to quickly analyze how the plan can be improved and refined before being launched to the full market.

Test marketing provides a wonderful opportunity to get feedback from buyers in a realistic buying situation in which they experience the full marketing mix - but it’s a challenge to do it right.

Due to:

  • The expertise needed to conduct test markets.
  • Challenges when it comes to the duration of testing.
  • Selecting the test market.
  • Associated expenses of these trials.

Many large organizations employ independent marketing research agencies that specialize in test marketing.

Press strategies

Often companies issue press releases about new products to increase visibility through earned media. The press release can be sent to targeted press outlets, posted on the company website, sent as an information message to customers, and distributed to industry influencers.

The goal of the press strategy is to build broad visibility for the product, backed up by the credibility of the media outlet.

Price discounts and channel partner incentives

Companies sometimes offer a price discount during a product launch, providing potential customers with the incentive to buy the product. If a product is sold at a reasonably discounted price, it is more likely to be spoken of by ‘word of mouth’ and engage a larger community of people in the long run.

Similarly, if the company depends on a partner to sell or distribute the pricing, it might choose to offer pricing discounts and incentives to the distribution partner. However, a completely new product or concept can carry some risk, and an incentive at launch can encourage channel partners that might be reluctant to sell it aggressively.


Although product evaluation should be a recurring activity that should be undertaken by the product manager throughout the entire process from as early as the idea-screening stage, objective evaluation of the product at every stage leads to better investment decisions and better products.

The difference in this final stage of the process is that the marketer has the benefit of significant market data for the evaluation, which can help improve the marketing plan going forward. It is only at this stage - after the product launch - that the product manager can see which buyers purchase the product, how competitors respond, and, in some cases, how the new product interacts with other internal and competitor products in the marketplace.

The ultimate objective

The ultimate objective of these five critical stages in product development is to provide a way of cultivating, maintaining, and increasing a company’s market share by satisfying consumer demand.

Product managers should create or develop products of the best possible quality. Aiming to provide maximum satisfaction to users should go hand in hand with this to achieve a sense of stability in an ever-evolving global market.