New Product Development - The 7-Step Process Explained

Atlassian By Atlassian
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Delivering innovative products can help you gain a competitive advantage, but maintaining that advantage requires continuously delivering new products that keep pace with your customers' evolving needs. New product development is the key to building and keeping market share and customer loyalty.

What is new product development?

New product development is the end-to-end process of creating a product that has never been brought to market—from idea to concept, prototyping, developing, testing, and launch. It involves building a product strategy and roadmap to successfully guide cross-functional teams and stakeholders through the entire process.

Unlike product enhancements and upgrades that modify and improve existing products, new product development addresses the unique challenges of designing and delivering brand-new products. This article discusses the seven stages of new product development, some challenges Agile teams face along the way, and how you can succeed.

The 7 stages of new product development

Successful Agile software development takes careful planning and good project management practices. The seven stages of new product development guide you through the process by breaking the work into stages or steps.

1. Generating ideas

Every new product begins with a problem and ideas to solve it. Ideas may come from within the company, such as the customer service team, or from outside via customer and market research. In this phase, it's important to gather all ideas without discrimination. The more ideas you can brainstorm, the better.

Products such as Jira Product Discovery help product teams structure the chaos of prolific ideas. Ideas can be supported by data, customer feedback, sales input, support tickets, and more to help shape what the product team should focus on, creating ongoing feedback loops. Idea generation is most effective as a team activity with the outcome of developing the essential elements for a new product. 

To help you prioritize ideas, methods such as a SWOT or Competitive analysis take the guess-work out of the process. When generating ideas, having a clear understanding of where opportunities exist and knowing how the competition stacks up can lead to brainstorming disruptive and game-changing ideas.

2. Screening ideas

Agile teams can use Jira Product Discovery matrixes to view a large number of ideas, using criteria such as impact, effort, and confidence level before scoring and selecting which ideas to move into the next phase. Gathering and organizing product ideas in a centralized tool makes it easier for product teams to prioritize which ideas or features will drive the most impact.

Scoring ideas by product development effort versus the overall impact of the solution is an excellent way to focus on those with the most impact. The SWOT and competitive analysis templates from step 1 can provide the foundation for where to place priorities. 

You can also identify good ideas that are simply not right for this new product but may be suitable for future products and the goals of the team. Screening ideas can be difficult, but aligning each good idea to your goals and comparing its impact to other ideas will help identify the most impactful opportunities.

3. Creating a product strategy

After selecting ideas to develop into a new product, it's time to create your product strategy. This is a concise definition of the need that the new product meets. A good product strategy includes the vision, target market or user, position in the industry, features and benefits, and the value the new product brings to the business. This phase involves creating a clear definition of the requirements.

Confluence offers a strategic plan template that can help you refine your strategy messaging, remove ambiguity, and clearly communicate the goal. From here, the Confluence requirements template walks you through the process of outlining your objectives and success metrics, listing assumptions and options to address them, and adding supporting documentation. These efforts include prototyping and validating with customers, ensuring the product being built will be something that customers actually want.

4. Building a product roadmap

A product roadmap is an action plan. It outlines product functionality and release schedules and helps you manage new product development. Think of the roadmap as the core communication tool for short- and long-term efforts that align with your business goals. It's a shared source of truth for a product’s vision, direction, priorities, and progress over time. Creating a great product roadmap keeps your entire team working together and moving in the same direction (try our product roadmap template). They also make it easy to check in on the work at any time throughout the product development life cycle.

Product teams using Jira Product Discovery can then share their product strategy using always-up-to-date, custom roadmaps to present which ideas will be built, when, and why.

5. Prototyping

Time to market is critical for new product development, and your ability to rapidly prototype and develop products ensures viable solutions. Jira Product Discovery’s integration with software development tools like Jira makes it easy to seamlessly connect your entire software delivery lifecycle.

6. Testing

Defects and change requests are simply a fact of new product development, but concise tracking and issue management keep everyone on your team informed, organized, and on schedule. Testing can span both internal quality assurance (QA) teams as well as customers and end users engaged in alpha, beta, or user acceptance testing. Jira is the leading tool that Agile teams use for testing, in part because it optimizes the QA workflow by writing and managing test scripts, tracking test cases, and managing defects. 

The product roadmap template from the previous step, along with other Confluence project planning templates, also inform testing and help ensure you miss nothing.

7. Product launch

You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and launching a new product requires careful planning and delivery. Every step in the process is a building block to a successful launch. Confluence’s product launch template helps ensure a smooth launch.

Additionally, sales and marketing, HR, and legal teams are already using your product strategy and roadmap to align messaging, identify opportunities, and ensure regulatory compliance. Using Jira, they can seamlessly connect their work with the product team’s. It provides a streamlined UI and integrations with the tools they use daily, such as Gantt charts and spreadsheets.

4 main types of product development

There are four types of product development, including:

  • New product development: These are products that haven’t been released in the market before, such as software applications that solve new or novel customer problems. 
  • New product categories: These products may not be new to the marketplace, but they are new to the company developing them. For example, a software company may expand their offering to include products within the category they currently develop, such as adding tax accounting to their portfolio of personal finance applications. 
  • Product line extensions: These expand the products offered within the organization’s existing range of products, such as adding new industries within a category. For example, a company may develop accounting software for the construction industry and decide to extend their accounting software to the airline industry.
  • Product enhancements: These are new features and capabilities within existing products. Companies generally design them to provide customers with new or added value. Enhancements respond to changes in the market, performance issues, or new competitive products. 

Example of new product development

Whether creating a new product that hasn’t been seen in the market before, or expanding an existing application to address new geographic locations, understanding the time it will take to develop is essential. 

Jira insights help teams make data-driven decisions based on their own historical progress. Insights can come from every aspect of the product development process and provide continuous improvement opportunities with each new product development project.  

3 challenges teams encounter in the new product development process

Great tools can help alleviate the challenges of new product development. Understanding these challenges and how to address them can keep your team on track for a successful launch.

1. Defining clear requirements

When speed is important, the requirements often become an ironclad set of instructions. While clear requirements are necessary, Agile teams must have a shared understanding of and empathy for the customer. Include various members of your team in requirements-gathering activities, such as customer interviews. When designers, developers, and QA share an understanding of user stories, they can produce results more quickly and accurately without maintaining rigid rules.

Confluence’s requirements template gives you the power to capture and update assumptions, use cases, UX design, and scope together.

2. Estimating the development effort

Working with realistic project timelines is essential for bringing new products to market and gaining a competitive advantage. However, product development tasks are notoriously difficult to estimate, and new product development can be even harder. Break work into smaller tasks for more accurate estimates. In addition to giving you more flexibility with resource assignments, smaller tasks minimize the impact on your overall project when something takes longer than expected.

Many Agile teams have switched from traditional estimates to story points—units that measure the effort teams require to fully implement a user story. A user story is an informed explanation of a feature from the user's perspective. With Jira, Agile teams track story points, reflect, and quickly recalibrate estimates.

3. Siloed tools

Collaboration is a critical component in your team's success and the success of their products. Development teams use a variety of specialized tools, such as visual design tools for creating mock-ups and instant messaging apps for hosting team discussions. No single tool can provide the specialized functionality for all the needs of the development team. Jira Product Discovery and Jira integrate with a wide range of specialized development tools to easily collect and incorporate important information.

How long does new product development take?

The time to develop a new product can vary widely based on the complexity of that product. For example, developing an application that securely processes credit card payments may take magnitudes longer than developing software to track exercise statistics. But a few tips can help reduce the time to market while maintaining quality. 

Expert tips from Atlassian for new product development

Understand the customer

Begin with the customer’s needs in mind. The time you spend early, interviewing customers and gathering input, helps create a clear product strategy. The entire team should understand the problem they are solving for the customer. It will keep the team on track when they make decisions during development. 

Foster team collaboration

When the team has the tools for seamless collaboration, generating ideas, prioritizing issues, and solving problems is much easier. Today’s product development teams include a wide range of cross-functional roles. The best way to prevent silos and keep the team working together is with collaboration, respect, and genuine appreciation for each other’s contributions. Centralized tools such as Jira Product Discovery and Jira help foster this.

Define the requirements

A good product specification outlines the purpose, what the client needs the product to do, the technical and functional requirements to achieve that, design mockups, and even release plans. This foundational document takes time to create, but it helps teams refine and clarify fuzzy requirements and align on the scope of the project. 

Optimize resource allocation

Resource allocation is among the hardest aspects of new product development, so the roadmap must be well-defined before you begin. Understand the tasks included in the project, their dependencies, and the resources required. Visual workflows can help teams identify when you underutilize or overcommit resources. They can also highlight bottlenecks and roadblocks to allow teams to quickly adjust and stay on track. 

Jira makes new product development easier

Jira provides success tools for new product development teams to collaborate on and manage work from idea to product launch. Agile teams have made Jira the leading solution for new product development.

Jira Product Discovery is a dedicated tool that aids teams in crucial stages of product development. It helps Agile teams gather and prioritize ideas and align everyone with product roadmaps. 

With Jira Product Discovery matrixes and criteria, you can easily select which ideas to move ahead with, enhancing the experience of product development.