What is product development? Stages and best practices

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Behind every great product is a great product development team. New product development transforms a simple idea into a finished product and puts it in the customer’s hands. However, not all product development teams are equal in terms of effectiveness.

To build an effective team, you must understand the stages of product development and implement the right strategies. This guide will break down these stages, best practices, and how you can use your resources to deliver the best products.

Try out the free product development template from Jira.

Definition of product development

Product development is a multi-step process that includes every aspect of developing a product, from when the idea is conceived to when it reaches the consumer. A good product development strategy helps you brainstorm and organize ideas to coordinate the launch of your product.

Stages of product development

Developing and delivering the best product starts with understanding the product development process. An effective product management plan can help you stay on track throughout the product development life cycle. We’ll break down the common stages of product development below.


Every good product starts with a great idea. During this stage, you’ll develop new product ideas using strategies like idea screening, concept development, and business analysis.

This product discovery stage is all about brainstorming, so don’t expect your first idea to be perfect. It takes time to develop refined product ideas, and you’ll have plenty of time to test and develop your product as you move through the process.

Idea screening

Idea screening is a crucial part of designing a new product. When feedback and ideas come at you from all angles, it can be tough to figure out what to focus on and how to use that information in the product development process.

Idea screening can help you stay organized and ensure you’re on the right path. Essentially, you want to evaluate each product idea to determine if it aligns with your business goals and customer needs. Ideas can play a crucial role in product analysis, but eliminating ideas that likely won’t be feasible or successful can help you focus on what’s most important.

Concept development and testing

Now that you’ve completed the early brainstorming, it’s time to bring your idea to life as a minimum viable product. This is the stage where you create the first version of your product to give target customers a more hands-on experience with it. Creating and testing a prototype helps you understand potential challenges your product may face so you can solve those problems before your product reaches your customer base.

Make sure you’re collecting detailed feedback from the customers who test your product. The more feedback you get, the more you can refine and optimize your product.

Business analysis

After you get your product in the hands of a few customers and receive feedback, it’s time for the business analysis stage. Even great products can’t succeed if the market isn’t right. Analyze the current demand for your product and how much people are willing to spend. You can also set up a focus group to get feedback about your product idea before you start the design and manufacturing stages.

If there’s no market for your idea or people simply aren’t willing to spend enough to make your concept feasible, you may need to return to the drawing board.

Product design

The design phase of product development often takes a while — but this is where you want to focus on getting things perfect. The product design stage starts with prototyping to get a general idea of what your product will look like. From there, you follow an iterative design process to test, analyze, and refine your product throughout the design stage.

Product roadmaps can help you better understand how you want to develop and evolve your product over its lifetime, which is an essential consideration in the design process.

Market testing

You’ve already let a handful of target customers try your product, but now it’s time to test it on a larger scale. You don’t have to launch your product all over the country or world during the market testing phase — even a limited release in a small area can help you gather feedback.

There are several ways to collect feedback from your customers. You can use surveys to collect easy-to-read feedback or work with a focus group. Use this feedback to refine your product.


The final stage of product development involves developing marketing strategies and preparing to launch your product. This is also when you need to scale production to meet the demand for your product.

How to create a product development plan

Whether you’re using product development software or developing your product the old-fashioned way, you can follow some basic steps to create an effective product development plan:

  • Define your product vision: Your product vision is a detailed outline of the future of your product, which may include its strengths and weaknesses, competitors, and the total market value for your product.
  • Create a product roadmap: Once you’ve detailed your product vision, you can use it to develop a product roadmap. Your roadmap should include both short—and long-term goals.
  • Implement the roadmap: Use your product roadmap to streamline the product development process. Everyone, from marketing and sales to engineering, should be aligned with it.

Examples of product development

Think about a major beverage brand like Coca-Cola. People buy Coca-Cola because they know and love the taste, but what about the new and seasonal flavors? 

When Coca-Cola or any other soft drink company develops a new flavor, they start with market research to determine what customers want. Testing begins once there’s a minimum viable product, ultimately leading to a more refined product. After countless hours of perfecting products based on customer feedback and expert taste testers, the new flavor is finally ready to launch.

Smaller brands use product development, too. From the innovative products you find on Amazon to some of the most popular Shark Tank items, every great product begins with a thorough product development plan. Household products like Scrub Daddy sponges wouldn’t be in stores today without countless hours of research, testing, and development.

Best practices for effective product development

Following best practices is crucial in product development. A good product development strategy starts with a customer-centric approach—that’s who you’re building the product for.

Agile methodologies help you break your product development strategy down into smaller chunks so you can stay aligned with your product roadmap. It’s also important to evaluate each project or stage to better understand how you can improve.

A good product specification can help with collaboration, but Jira can provide even more resources to help your team collaborate and succeed. Visualize and manage projects with Jira Boards and break those Boards down into more manageable chunks called Issues. Jira is even designed to integrate with other Atlassian products so your software and entire team can work together seamlessly.

Streamline product development with Jira

A solid product development plan leads to a great product—and our software can help. Project management tools like Jira help you visualize and organize your thoughts to stay on track during each stage of product development.

Jira is the leading project management tool for software development. It unlocks a new level of customizability, connectivity, and efficiency for every team involved in the product development lifecycle.

Product development is a team sport, and Jira is designed for collaboration. Use Jira with other Atlassian products like Confluence and Jira Work Management to keep your teams connected and organized. Get Started with Jira Scrum Boards to see how our software can help.

Product development: Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to have a product development plan?

A good product development plan helps you brainstorm and organize ideas to create a better-finished product. It also helps you stay aligned with your product roadmap and be more efficient, which saves you time and leads to a better product. Market research can also help you avoid fruitless product development endeavors

What is the difference between product development and product management?

Generally, product managers focus more on ideas, while product developers focus more on bringing ideas to life. Project management plays a key role in generating ideas for products and refining those ideas, but product development is where ideas become tangible products.

How long does the product development process usually take?

There’s no set time for product development—it’s all about the complexity of the product and the resources available. Small teams may spend several months developing a product, while major companies may finish it in a few weeks. Perfecting your product is more important than speeding through the development process.