How to develop new products


  1. Generate ideas for new and modified products: for example, from customer feedback, employee suggestions and technical developments.
  2. Assess how these ideas fit with your strategy, market position and skills; confirm that you have the resources to devote to development.
  3. Research the market, assessing customer requirements and sales potential; identify key risks and plan your marketing strategy.
  4. Research the competition and potential competition; learn from competitors’ successes and failures.
  5. Form a project team covering all the key skills (eg marketing, design, production, purchasing and finance) and led by a product champion.
  6. Plan the critical path, identifying which activities must be undertaken first and which can happen in parallel.
  7. Set budgets, objectives and timescales; regularly assess progress during the product development project and, if necessary, modify plans.
  8. Assess other risks to the project such as technical hurdles and whether your intellectual property can be protected.
  9. Define the basic product specification and translate specific features into product requirements; identify your key selling points.
  10. Estimate the likely selling price and set target production costs; assess likely actual costs of development and production, allowing for contingencies.
  11. Design the product, taking into account marketing, production and purchasing requirements.
  12. Develop a prototype : iron out technical and production issues and to test market reaction; make any necessary changes.
  13. Gear up for full-scale production and launch the product.
  14. Continue to monitor the product's success and look for opportunities to further develop it.

Cardinal rules


  1. use customer wants and needs to drive product development
  2. investigate competitors’ plans and products
  3. assess and control risks
  4. involve a full project team from the outset
  5. plan the critical path
  6. expect setbacks, and be prepared to modify your plans
  7. conduct trials before committing to full-scale production


  1. develop new ideas without adequate market research
  2. overlook the threat of new competition
  3. attempt over-ambitious projects
  4. let your existing products become stale