20 Product Development FAQs to Note in 2023
Creating a digital product is a huge undertaking. So it's no wonder that there are so many questions about product development, the process, and the best ways to approach it. To help those searching for all the must-knows in one place, we've compiled a list of the 20 most frequently asked product development questions and provided simple and easy-to-comprehend answers to them. Without further ado, let's dive into the subject.
1. What Is Product Development?
First things first, what does product development mean? Giving the product development definition, it is the process of coming up with a concept or product idea and bringing it to life. As a rule, it involves going through multiple stages, from idea initiation to research, design, development, and launch. It may imply building something new from scratch or upgrading an existing solution by creating new features and releasing improved product versions.
2. What Is the Purpose of Product Development?
The purpose of product development is to build a new product or enhance an existing one with the aim of boosting customer satisfaction, increasing profits, and getting a competitive market edge. To achieve this, the team must go through thorough research to discover the customers' needs and pain points so that the product would bring the desired results. You have to carefully plan the work ahead, work on the design, and then develop, test, and launch the product. Certainly, this process is complex and usually requires a deal of time.
3. Why Is Product Development Important in Business?
Product development is a central business activity for many reasons. Here are several notable ones:
- it allows for creating or improving products that are capable of living up to user expectations, which, in turn, can lead to increased sales and profits as you take steps toward finding product-market fit;
- if the product manages to deliver value and convenience, it gives the company a chance to stay competitive in the constantly iterating market;
- it makes it possible to stand out among the competitors if the provided features and experiences are unique and solve real customer problems;
- the process helps companies stay relevant, and being up-to-date with the latest business trends as the changing customer preferences is crucial for modern businesses.
4. What Is a Product Development Life Cycle?
Every product goes through a sequence. Which key elements does the product development life cycle consist of?
The exact number may vary, yet the fundamental phases of the product development life cycle include:
- Introduction (creating a new product and launching it on the market);
- Growth (seeing the product get first clients and grow in demand);
- Maturity (analyzing the product as it grows and matures);
- Decline (improving and iterating the product to enlarge the life cycle).
5. What Are the 5 Stages of Product Development?
Overall, the process is made up of the stages that a business takes as it develops a product. Nonetheless, the specific number of stages can differ from project to project.
So, what are the key steps for product development? If we were to shortlist the five most important ones, they'd be the following:
- idea initiation and research (finding a product idea and evaluating whether it should be created and how to best approach development);
- project planning (taking the idea and converting it into a detailed plan involves setting goals and objectives, shortlisting the features, noting the project stages and timeline, determining the resources, assigning roles and responsibilities, etc.);
- prototyping and design (creating wireframes and prototypes to envision the future product and test it);
- development and testing (coding the solution according to the designs and then going through QA testing to ensure there are no bugs);
- release and post-launch work (be it small MVP launch or rolling out a full-scale product, there's a lot of work after the solution is introduced to the market and shown to the public, including handling after MVP tweaks, fixes, feedback analysis, etc.).
6. What Is the Product Development Process Like? What Is the First Step?
The product development process is comprised of multiple phases. Yet, what is the first major stage in new product development? Idea initiation and discovery can be grouped as one large step.
It begins by brainstorming what the product could be. You may browse various SaaS ideas or come up with a service-based product, then shortlist and pick the top idea to focus on. Once you've finalized what you want to build, it is important to assess the idea viability and study the market. Going through proof of concept is integral at this point as it gives the opportunity to find out whether a new product development process is worth it.
7. How Do You Prepare for Product Development?
Planning ahed is one of the best ways to avoid common product development pitfalls. By going through the discovery process, which can take approximately two weeks, you get to:
- work on feature prioritization;
- line out the goals and deliverables;
- break down the scope of work into tangible milestones;
- set up a project timeline.
Ideally, this step should be handled by various specialists like a designer, QA engineer, and tech lead, who can all make a valuable contribution based on previous experience and expertise. This allows for more precise planning and estimation.
8. Why Is Product Development Research Important?
Product development and research go hand in hand. This is a vital step that shouldn't be omitted as it allows for making discoveries that can save money and prevent a business from losing investment. After all, funds aren't elastic, especially if we're mentioning a startup budget, so wasting resources on sure-to-fail hypotheses has to be out of the question when building products.
For instance, research lets you:
- find out whether there is a market need for the product or service;
- determine the target audience (their pain points, habits, preferences, expectations, and undermet needs);
- identify the competition (this can help design product that'll stand out and perform better than other alternatives);
- allocate possible issues or potential stumbling blocks before development begins;
- make more accurate project estimations (time, required human resources, money, etc.).
9. When Should You Not Proceed to Product Development?
There are cases when it doesn't make sense to develop a product. That is, if you haven't researched the market, moving on to MVP design and development is a very risky undertaking as you'll be betting the project's success on a guess.
On the contrary, if your research phase led you to discover that there's a lack of demand or customer need, developing a product isn't reasonable. Other reasons include lacking the required funds, product development budget and resources, expertise, or a precise vision of which purpose the product should serve and how it should solve specific problems.
10. What Is MVP in Product Development?
According to the MVP definition, this acronym stands for minimum viable product. It implies creating and releasing a simplified small version of the product prior to proceeding to full-fledged development.
Deciding to build an MVP first is considered a reasonable move and one of the product development best practices as you gradually create the product and get the flexibility to amend it on the go. This approach makes it possible to cut costs, reduce risks, and hit the market faster than if you'd work on the large-scale feature-rich product version.
11. What Is Product Development Strategy Creation?
Unlike project planning which revolves around the project details and the realistic ways to reach the desired outcome, a product development strategy highlights the product's long-term mission and vision.
How do you create a decent strategy? Well, this is one of the most difficult product development questions to ask. The thing is that creating this strategy also deals with user, competitor, and market research, and many points intersect in this respect (e.g., what this product is needed for, who'll use it, how it'll be developed, and which resources are necessary). However, the strategy also emphasizes what the product should grow to become in the future and the product development goals and objectives in the long run.
12. What Is a Product Development Roadmap?
A roadmap for product development is an essential document that captures the plan of how the product is developed. It usually summarizes all the main points and lists the features to be added, the required resources, releases ahead, areas of responsibility, the goals, and overall product vision. This outline also notes the projected timeline and where the project is headed with due explanations on why you're building the product and the stages ahead.
13. How Long Does Product Development Take?
This is one of the most frequent questions about product development. The timeline for every project is unique. On average, small products can take 1 to 3 months to develop, with several weeks for the discovery stage and up to three months for designing, building, and testing the minimum viable product. Frankly, the actual time for developing a product can range anywhere from a couple of weeks to several years for complex solutions. It depends on a multitude of factors, including the:
- number of features;
- design intricacy;
- feature complexity;
- selected tech stack;
- team size;
- number of necessary iterations;
- among others.
Which product development stage takes the most time? The actual development work is commonly the most resource-intensive and lengthy step of the process that may require team scaling to speed up delivery.
14. What Are the Product Development Challenges?
Surely, a business can face multiple obstacles when building a product. These are some of the major challenges in product development:
- identifying the pain points and problems customers face;
- determining whether there's demand and market need for the service or product;
- forming the right team to build the product and distributing the web development team roles properly;
- determining how the product will stand out and gain a competitive advantage;
- planning the work ahead and putting together a decent product roadmap;
- allocating the right amount of funding and distributing resources;
- managing the development process and sticking to deadlines;
- withstanding the competition;
- being able to iterate the plan or making a business pivot if changes are necessary.
15. What Are the Main Product Development Risks?
Without a doubt, there are many risks involved in product development. We'll list a few most notable ones to be aware of.
The main one is failing to build something worthwhile and losing investment as a result. Several major reasons for that are not managing to live up to user expectations, creating something no one needs, having a bad design, poor solution quality, an ineffective team, or bad launch time choice in general. This is why numerous companies choose the building in public path and share various insights with the users who see the product development process and how it grows.
Similarly, running out of funding too soon is another common risk that causes projects to fall flat. This has to do with lots of things, for instance, poor planning, hiring the wrong team, spending too much on marketing or other assets. Financial fails can also occur if you choose the wrong monetization strategy or can't be economically viable. Not to mention that the investment pitch process is usually very lengthy and tough with many other competitors seeking funding.
On another note, there's also a risk of seeing a competitor beat you with the product launch on the market, for instance, if you take too long to develop the product.
16. How Can You Tell Whether Product Development Is Effective?
Product development is efficient if there are visible benefits that outweigh the invested resources like time and money. Setting product development OKRs (objectives and key results) can help measure how well the team is progressing in fulfilling the plan and moving in accordance with the timeline, especially when you combine OKRs and KPIs.
Plus, monitoring product performance metrics (like engagement and user retention) allows for tracking success and how the product is doing on the whole. Looking into and analyzing feedback both from the team and users can also be a way to determine product development effectiveness.
17. How Can You Make Product Development More Effective?
Once again, having clear objectives and goals can help the team achieve better results when developing a product. Detailed planning, using time management and other MVP tools, falling back on feedback, and constant testing also facilitate the process.
Moreover, taking the time to improve the development processes can help the team focus on the goals. This is why teams often use popular software development models like Scrum, Agile, and Waterfall and turn to DevOps to make the work more robust.
18. What Are the Ways to Make Product Development Faster?
There are several things that can be done to accelerate product development without jeopardizing the quality of the result. For example, you can adopt an agile development methodology (say, build an agile minimum viable product) or apply tools that can help automate the workflow and streamline other vital processes. This can help get the process going faster without compromising product development quality. Surely, you can also speed up the process if you hire an additional workforce or delegate product development to a trustworthy third party.
19. How Do You Form a Product Development Team?
Getting a hold of the best talent to develop a product is a step to take responsibly. There are many employment options, but you need to put the product idea, strategy, and your goals in the spotlight regardless of the chosen hiring path. List the desired skills and experience when selecting candidates, keeping in mind the roles and responsibilities that have to be accounted for.
Mentioning the minimal set, you'll need a product manager, designer, several developers, and a QA engineer. Oftentimes, such teams also have a marketing specialist and data analyst onboard too.
However, because developer recruitment may be a challenging task to handle in-house that takes up a lot of time, many teams and companies consider cutting costs and omitting a large portion of the employment hassle by teaming up with tech vendors.
20. What Is Outsourced Product Development?
Outsourced software product development means passing the development portion of the project to a third party. For instance, you can turn to an MVP development company to facilitate the creation of the product. Is it reasonable to outsource product development? In many cases, yes. The reason for that is that by turning to such a partner, you get access to an entire pool of professionals (from software developers to designers and beyond). This allows you to augment the team according to your needs without the headache of issuing paid leaves, paying taxes, buying hardware and software, and many others.
Quick Summary on Popular Product Development Questions
Creating a product isn't easy. But we've done our best to give answers to many of the often-asked questions about product development.
A lot has to be taken into consideration to build a product that'll have the potential to scale and bring profit. So if you have more unanswered questions about how to develop a product that has what it takes to achieve your set goals, don't be shy to reach out to us.
Upsilon has helped many startups grow their products and achieve success, and we'll be glad to help you skyrocket your product too! We provide services for early-stage startups that are at the beginning of their journey and can assist you with staff augmentation services if you're planning to scale your product up.