Defining a new product development process

Developing a new product for your business needn’t be a painstaking exercise. If you’ve got an exciting and potentially profitable product idea, the last thing you want is to be constrained by an outdated product development process that stunt the speed of getting the product to market.

For new product development i.e. a process of creating a new product that’s never been developed by your team before, there will undoubtedly be a string of uncertainties and hurdles to overcome along the way. In order to combat those challenges, a structured roadmap is needed to give you and your team a clear route to market.

Let’s take a look at some of the key aspects of any new product development process:

Idea generation & conceptualisation

The development of a new product starts with idea brainstorming and conceptualisation. As a business you will source inspiration and ideas from all manner of sources: customers, competitors, journals, suppliers etc. Start-ups and smaller businesses will naturally be more limited in terms of technical research. At the British Library’s Business & IP Centre, we offer up-to-date information for researching key industries – hand-picked by our experts – absolutely free.

Alternatively, we offer a range of paid services that enable you to enlist the help of our experts to conduct research on product development and new business ideas.

Idea screening

After an effective idea generation session which involves creating a vast pool of ideas, the next stage is to narrow these down to those considered the most realistic pursuits, known as idea screening.

Arguably the most efficient way to narrow down your new product ideas is to have a checklist to use as a yardstick and highlight the most viable options. A checklist will enable you to rate or measure each idea based on a set of defined criteria for successful launch to market. These parameters may include: ease of marketing, potential ROI, affordability and consumer demand.

Conceptual development

The most appealing new product ideas should then be developed into a concept and tested. A new product concept can either be physical or symbolic, but it’s important that the concept is shared swiftly with a cross-section of your valued customer/client base in order to ensure they understand the concept and whether there is a need for it based on their feedback. Developing the concept also enables you and your team to begin to craft marketing messages based on its benefits and the problems it solves.

Outlining the business case

Once a product’s concept has been tested and refined, the business case needs to be outlined forecasting whether it will be profitable enough. The business analysis stage should feature a thorough marketing plan, pinpointing the target market, how the product will be positioned and the various marketing channels that would be used to gain exposure. In conclusion, the analysis will have to weigh up the overall costs incurred in creating the product, the competition and a likely break-even price point.

Prototyping the product

If the business case for the product has been approved at an executive level it can then be prototyped, allowing your team to carefully examine the necessary specifications and ways to improve the efficiency of manufacturing methods. At this stage you could also stage another focus group seeking the opinion of target customers on product packaging and the overall look and feel of the product.

Market testing

By introducing the prototype product along with the proposed marketing plan it’s possible for your team to validate the entire concept. At this stage it’s still early enough to make late refinements to all elements of the product: from the product itself to the key marketing messages.

Commercialisation and launch

As you approach product launch the last step is to finalise pricing and launch marketing plans. If you have a sales team or suppliers on stand-by, make sure they are briefed so that everything is ready for the day you press the ‘launch’ button. Ahead of launch day you’ll need a detailed framework of where you’re initially launching to reach the basis of your target demographic.

Following launch and to continue to refine the new product development process, a review of its performance is needed to measure the success of the project and pinpoint key learnings for the next product off the conveyor belt.

A structured approach to new product development really can be the difference between success and failure.


At the Business & IP Centre we’re here to give business owners, entrepreneurs and inventors the tools to make better informed decisions when developing new business ideas. With access to a comprehensive collection of business and intellectual property information sources, sign up to our ‘Introduction to the Business & IP Centre’ workshop to learn more about how our data can be applied to develop a profitable business niche.

See also

Plan to start your business

Plan to grow your business

Protecting your ideas