Launching a new product or service is hard work. Or at least it should be hard work. Technically, you could launch a product without doing any research or testing or development, but you don’t have to be an expert to realize that is a really bad idea.
Last time we talked about launching a product, we had gotten through a lot of the testing and mental exercises. In this second part, we will explain how to take an idea and make it real. This is obviously a big step, so hold onto your butts.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
The product development phase means taking your idea and making it real. For products, this involves prototyping to ensure safety and function. For services, this could mean creating backend systems to prepare for customers or preparing your sales team. Every business is a little bit different, but every business can benefit from the methodical planning that comes from NPM. Adapt this general plan to help your products and services make it from idea to realization smoothly.
Once you have the prototype ready to go, give it a test. If it’s a physical product, make sure that it is safe and doesn’t have any unforeseen defects. Yes, even the most careful planning can fail to accommodate real-world problems.
Take, for instance, the Nokia ROKR. Never heard of it? There’s a reason for that! Back in 2005, two years before the iPhone, Nokia and Apple collaborated on a phone that would allow users to use iTunes on the go and call people. Unheard of at the time, the phone became an instant curiosity and tech journalists hyped up the device for years.
While we can’t be sure exactly what Apple and Nokia’s design processes are, we can assume that they are solid, as both companies have produced amazing products over the years. However, the ROKR E1 launched with a serious problem. Despite having up to 1 GB of storage, iTunes could only load 100 songs onto the device. Furthermore, the phone lacked high-speed USB, so transferring music to the device was painfully slow.
Suffice to say, after all that planning, these missing features and defects caused the E1 to become a flop. It just goes to show that even the biggest companies should always prototype and consider exactly how a product is going to perform in the real world.
Say you were about to launch the ROKR. You have sunk money into R&D, design, even a prototype. Yes, a company like Nokia (especially 2005 Nokia, which was the cellphone king) can launch a product and recoup some costs, but if you’re a new company and still developing your reputation, you have to balance whether or not you can take a hit like that. Sometimes it’s better to eat the costs of development than it is to tank your reputation.
There are still two more steps in the new product development process. Test marketing is like a dress rehearsal. You take your product and put it through its paces by creating advertising for it, maybe even letting some of the public to test it out. During the test marketing phase, you outline your entire rollout plan, get feedback from customers, and allow your marketing team to flex their muscles.
If everything still looks good, it’s time to head to the final step: launch. You start mass producing your product or formally rolling out your service. At this point, you are officially all-in on this product. The real expenses start coming in–and so does the profit!
Product management is a topic that has been talked to death. But it’s also where a lot of companies–both big and small–struggle. Finding the perfect product management solution is an ongoing process, particularly as the role of the project manager has expanded over the years. We’re not going to waste your time and tell you we’ve found the “perfect product management solution” because that doesn’t exist. What we will say is that, thanks to the power of Pega, product management has never been so intuitive and powerful. Perfect? Maybe for some, maybe not for others. At Hoverstate, we have helped clients develop product management solutions using Pega that make a lasting difference.
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