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What is an efficient product development process?


Launching a successful digital product requires a lot of ingredients, but what's even more important is the recipe. The product development process is the blueprint for transforming ideas into products and is generally broken up into these main stages:

  • Ideation
  • Consumer Research
  • Strategy
  • Product Development
  • Marketing / Commercialization

In order to have an efficient product development process, it’s important to know what a strong one looks like. In this article, we’ll explore the qualities of an efficient product development process so that you launch the most successful product possible.

What is product development?

Product development (also called product management) is the method of taking a product from vision to market. For a startup, their initial product development is for the creation of a minimum viable product (MVP), the baseline product required to have a customer.

The primary stages of product development

The product development process plays a key role in transforming ideas into products, and is generally broken up into these main stages:

  1. Ideation
    The ideation stage is focused on the problem you want to solve. Throughout the ideation stage, you’ll specify a general audience, source ideas regarding a new product.
  2. Consumer Research
    The consumer research stage is meant to build prototypes for customer segments and customer decision-making processes.  The purpose of consumer research is to evaluate the psychology of your audience and understand their buying patterns. These patterns are the attributes that help brands to sell their products and boost sales, like preferred packaging, goals and motivations, and income, to name a few.
  3. Strategy
    In the strategy phase, a business conducts research to evaluate the product market and existing competitors. These evaluations can be conducted through a SWOT analysis, which identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the existing market.
  4. Product Development
    The initial prototype for a product occurs in the product development stage. Here, you’ll build the actual design and manufacture of the product for users. Factors like budget, team experience, and timeline will strongly determine the productivity of this phase.
  5. Marketing / Commercialization
    The marketing and commercialization stage is to campaign for the new product, build brand awareness, and generate a user audience. Throughout this stage, it’s important to utilize all forms of marketing strategies, including inbound and outbound strategies, digital advertising, and email.

Ways of managing the process

Most organizations manage their product development using either the Kanban or Agile methodologies, with the latter becoming more popular.

Kanban is a popular framework used to track progress by visually representing work items on a kanban board, which allows team members to see (and update) the state of every piece of work at any time. While Agile is a combination of methodologies based on iterative development and collaboration between cross-functional teams to provide better responsiveness to changing product needs. At Tragic, we used Kanban when we primarily focused on web development and e-commerce projects. As we moved into more advanced software development, we moved to a loose Agile process that we tightened and refined over time. Regardless of methodology, we encourage our clients to pursue a strategy driven product development process to avoid a software tragedy.

Pitfalls of the process

Each stage of the product development process is riddled with potential pitfalls. Whether it’s lacking specificity for consumer research, making poor choices during development, or having an inefficient go-to-market strategy, there are plenty of opportunities for chaos if you’re not careful.

To minimize setbacks, work with experienced teams led by technical experts and establish a clear roadmap of guidelines for success that all team members are familiar with.

When you run into issues, listen to your experts, re-evaluate, and leverage user feedback often.

Setbacks are okay, but, when in doubt, listen to your experts and have frequent evaluation processes in place so that inefficiencies are spotted sooner than later.

Tips for success

Product development isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Each business must remember that the process will depend on the research, talent, timing, budget, and constraints unique to your organization. With that in mind, here are a few key tips for success.

Do your research.
Make sure you conduct effective research with a diverse mix of your ideal customers. Though your customers may have similar behavior patterns, consider different demographics, including age range, race, gender, and geography.

Focus on priorities.
Not every feature or solution can be part of the initial launch. You must define the core requirements needed to make your product successful. These priorities are non-negotiable features that solve your customers’ problems directly. Once those have been included, you can fit in the secondary and tertiary features as the budget and timeline allow.

Get feedback early.
Create multiple pathways to gather feedback from your early research participants or find others interested in your product and get their feedback. As your product grows, continue to gain and leverage your users’ feedback to lay the future direction of your product roadmap.

Launch small.
Grandiose launches are a thing of the past. Instead, launch small, test, and then get feedback. Once user feedback has been received and it’s confirmed that you have a killer product ready to scale, then you take your rocket to hyperspace.

Iterate often.
If you use priorities effectively at launch, you should have the next 3-6 months of your product roadmap mapped out. As soon as possible, start iterating and growing your new product to keep your customers happy.


In the end, the success of your product development process will depend heavily on the unique goals of your product crossed with your team talent, research, organization, and ability to iterate. Even the most organized product roadmaps won’t be seamless or resemble a straight line when looking back, but instead, look more like hills and mountains.

Developing a product requires technical expertise, diligence, and commitment, but with an iterative culture and an efficient product development process in place, your product is on the pathway to greatness.