Menlo Park Patents Blog:

What are the different stages of product development?

Scroll to
Learn More

Every new business idea requires a lot of planning and research to strategically build a company into a success. Knowing the different stages of product development can help you understand what needs to be done at each stage and how much to budget for. A lot ofinventors/ founders choose not to do research up front and end up paying thousands of dollars for development that they either did not need or could have been done more efficiently and cost effectively. Defining a detailed development strategy can help you avoid the common pitfalls and save you money. So, to help you better understand how a product is developed we utilize the traditional roadmap of product development which list the different stages of product development and what each stage signifies as you grow your company.

Idea Stage and Validation:
The idea stage is just as it sounds. The problem you noticed or the idea you hatched is just an idea that is formulated in your head. The next step is to put that idea onto paper and think of all the possibilities and variations of the features it can have. Writing the idea on paper and documenting it allows you to think of the product but also allows you to see if the idea really is a good idea. It also prepares you to file a patent or other form of intellectual property to protect the idea and can save you money by formalizing the idea.

At this stage in the product development cycle it is extremely important to do a lot of research upfront to see if there are competitors with the same idea, or in the industry. Using resources such as industry publications, crowdfunding platforms, online shipping outlets, SEO trends, web blogs or even news publications can be a great way to research the current state of the industry and can give you a insight if there are already a large number of competitors or if your idea really is innovative and needed. More importantly, start engaging with prospective customers sooner rather than later to help you better understand the problem they face and how well your idea fits with their complaints or concerns. Of course, do not let them know your idea but rather just speak with them to understand if your idea is a good fit or needs to adapt to what they are looking for. You cannot beat understanding your customers as it will help you plan how to design your product but also how you can market your product cost effectively to them. We highly recommend engaging customers and taking the necessary steps to validate your idea before spending larger amounts on development.

Design Stage
Now that you have determined that your idea is valuable and there is an opportunity for it, and you can now start designing your idea into a product. This stage requires even more research into the market to understand how the product is sold, where they are sold, if there are any regulations that need to be complied with and most importantly what the customers think of the idea. Designing in a vacuum while making assumptions about what your customers want can lead to spending unnecessarily, wasting time, and delaying the launch of your product. Design stage requires sketching the product, looking at the overall appearance and different components of the product, and developing sketches and illustrations.

Concept development AKA Proof-of-Concept
Concept development or developing a proof of concept is a crude proto-type of the product. Normally prototypes are not the completed product but show all the different features of it and demonstrate the functionality of it. It may not work completely perfect but it is important that it works when demonstrating it to a partner or investor.

Alpha Prototype
An alpha prototype is an initially designed and constructed first attempt at making a physical form from the design and gathered feedback from customers. The Alpha prototype may be assembled with 3D printed housing and components to evaluate the fit and performance. The first iteration is not the end but it can guide a product development team toward the next steps or direction the product may take. Testing of the Alpha prototype is essential in understanding the limitations of the product. This stage can take from months to years depending on the product you are developing and the industry.

The Beta Prototype
A beta prototype is the next stage in development and incorporates any refinements found in the Alpha and designs them to be ready for production. At this stage of the process it is also necessary to that your marketing plan has been implemented and you are ready to open for sales.

As you develop your product, keep in mind to always gain customer feedback at every stage until the product is ready for production.

Contact us today to tell us about your great idea!