If you are reading this article, it is probably because you are thinking of how to plan your research and product development plan, how you can make this process more efficient, and some tools that could help you in improving your research and development process.
Let’s find out what you can do regarding the mentioned aspects.
Why would you need product research and development?
Research is crucial in product development. A lot of products have failed in the market because research has been poor or non-existent.
For instance, you may have heard about Stadia, one of Google’s bets on gaming. The guardian mentioned that this platform was really good, the games could be played on any screen just by using a game controller. However, the market is still not “interested” in this kind of gaming. Though some predictions talk about cloud gaming, this is maybe something for which our generation is still not ready.
The guardian said, “Cloud gaming is one of those ideas that’s great in theory, but has yet to find a practical application.”
This service was launched 2 years ago. Maybe in that moment Google should have predicted the poor response of the market to that gaming platform through a detailed research process, maybe they did it, but didn’t consider barriers like adaptation, or attachment of users to video consoles.
A good research process will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in product development, because the research can give you important data on how interesting your product is and if it fulfills the needs of your potential customers.
How to plan your research and product development plan?
The planning of your research depends on what you want to accomplish with your product, device or service:
- Do you plan to add a few modifications to the design?
- Are you going to add new features that affect your design?
- Will you add new features that won’t represent big changes in the design?
- Will you update the hardware?
- Will you update the firmware or software?
- Will you completely innovate your product?
Depending on the answers you get, you will know what research you need to carry out, and that also conditions your product development plan. Here are the steps of the development plan you can implement:
- The big why.
- Analyze your product and competitors.
- Do some market research.
- Build an MVP.
- Product upgrades (development life cycle).
Remember these steps can vary depending on where you are with your product, and the changes you want to make on it.
Let’s go back to some of the questions from above, and analyze the approach you may need to take.
Do you plan to add a few modifications to the design?
If you are thinking about modifying the design of the product, you should first gather some feedback from the market:
- What are your customers saying about the ergonomics of your product?
- Are they complaining about a specific aspect of the product?
- Would you enhance the product by making changes to the design?
Recommendation: Make surveys to know the positive and negative aspects of your product regarding its design. Remember that it is important to listen to your audience.
If you decide to make changes, get help from an industrial designer. They can help you with the design modifications, specially if you need IoT product design.
Are you going to add new features that affect your design?
Adding new features to your device may imply you have to change the hardware. In this case, you may need hardware design services.
The research here not only involves getting feedback from your market, you also need to analyze what are the trends in your industry, what chips, microcontrollers, and protocols are being used, and investigate how those advances can be incorporated into your product.
These new features must add value to your product, and not make it more complicated for the consumer. Of course, it will be necessary to test the new features first with focus groups, you can’t risk developing a new product without testing it; hardware performance, attractiveness of new features, consumer’s perception.
Will you update the firmware or software?
Some companies tend to update the firmware or software of their devices with more ease. For obvious reasons, this requires less investment in product development, however, this doesn’t mean there is no research process.
The company needs to address bugs that the device is currently presenting, and analyze how an update would improve the performance of the product, or make it more interesting to new consumers.
Will you completely innovate your product?
You can innovate if you have the idea of new products that can replace the current ones, or maybe, you just want to expand your portfolio.
Innovation must not be carried out without a research and product development analysis. It is really important to investigate how your new product may impact your market.
If your business is not prepared for testing, iterating and testing again, it’s better to wait and innovate on new products when you feel your company is ready, or maybe when you feel your product’s life cycle is reaching its last stages.
Recommendation: Look for outsourced product development companies that can get in charge of your new product idea. They have experience in designing and developing new products, and they will surely help you better understand the research process in this scenario, and how it may benefit your business.
What are the research and development stages?
Now that you have an idea on what kind of research you may need to consider depending on the changes of your product, we could also mention some stages that better explain the research process.
First, you need a product roadmap where you will outline all goals and tasks that need to be done for upgrading the product’s design, hardware, firmware or software.
Gather all the data you can regarding your product’s performance. In this stage, you have to be open to any kind of information you obtain:
- Brand awareness.
- Product’s performance.
- Complaints of the customers.
- Market trends.
- New technologies.
Once you start analyzing this information, you will find answers to what to do with your product development process. And this is where the next stage comes up.
Evaluate the results
All data you gather must guide your marketing or development team on what to do with the current products in the market. Maybe you realize your product has potential for new target groups, but with different characteristics, or you find out that your product is being used as an add-on for other hardware or software; and you can make your product even more compatible with that.
If you want to make a smart move, think of bringing the best benefits for your customers, they will feel heard, and as a result, they will stay loyal to your company.
Test and development
The research process in this stage requires you to start investing on new designs, and hardware and software developments.
This process consists of a proof of concept, where the idea is validated in a short time. Also, there will be a prototype that can be tested with new and current users. There has to be an analysis of the production costs and the potential price in the market.
Keep in mind that your customer will have the last word regarding the upgrades you perform on your product. If the focus groups that test your prototype don’t like it, or they feel like the new features are not necessary, you will have to go back to the research process and find out what went wrong.
What tools can you use for improving your research and development process?
Many clients that have come to us ask about the research and development cost for their products. This is something that changes a lot depending on the stage of the product, the features that will be added, the hardware upgrades, among other things.
All IoT and hardware projects we have developed are a different world, and it is hard to try setting specific research and development costs.
We could give you some recommendations on what tools or strategies to use if you are planning to do the research process on your own.
- Talk to your customers. You can get the most honest feedback from them.
- Carry out A/B tests. If you are not sure what version will be the best for the market, arrange a few meetings with users that can test both versions, and analyze their reactions, feedback, and user experience.
- Pre-order pages. Set up a website that maybe teases a new product, or ask your audience which features they may like to get.
- Paper prototypes. This is a cool way to play with new designs of your product or service, test it with your marketing team, customers, or anyone that can provide useful feedback.
- Surveys. You can use platforms such as Surveymonkey, Typeform, and even Google forms. They can be really useful to gather information in a short amount of time, and from anywhere in the world where your product or service is being sold.
- Use platforms like Notion to brainstorm ideas with your team or coworkers. There you can share data, videos, docs, and get results from that interaction.
We hope this guide is useful for your research process. Remember you need to consider many things for getting great results, it all depends on how willing you are to collect data, and to use the right strategies and tools.
If you still have questions, you could contact us by clicking below, you will get to know more about our expert engineering team. We would love to hear about your product or device.