What is New Product Development?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

For a person coming up with an idea for a product on his or her own, the development may be guided by instinct and availability of input from family and friends. In the business world, however, each business that creates products usually has a specific approach to new product development (NPD). When the company has a Chief Technology Officer (CTO), this may well be his or her realm, and he or she may bring a personal approach or use a somewhat standard new product development process.

A business often conducts a viability study to determine the potential profit that may exist in a new business idea or product.
A business often conducts a viability study to determine the potential profit that may exist in a new business idea or product.

There are several more or less standard models for new product development consisting of a set of steps that many companies use or vary to suit their needs. In one generic version of product development, the basic steps in this product can be described as generating ideas; evaluating or screening the ideas; developing, testing, and refining concepts; performing a business analysis; doing the product and marketing mix development; market testing; and commercializing the product.

In the medical industry, product development systems conduct guided experimentation geared toward finding new drugs or treatments.
In the medical industry, product development systems conduct guided experimentation geared toward finding new drugs or treatments.

The Stage-Gate® model is a different approach to new product development with a claim to being used by around three-quarters or more of the leading companies in the United States, according to independent research. In the Stage-Gate® model, management gatekeeping follows every one of the five stages in the development process. The entire process is preceded by a generalized Discovery Stage, and the five stages proper are called Scoping, Build Business Case, Development, Testing and Validation, and Launch. There is also a Post Launch Review that is not identified as a stage or a gate.

A more recent set of approaches are referred to as Ultra-Low-Cost Product Development (ULCPD) processes. One such approach is the Flexible Product Development Process, which creates a self-acknowledged contrast with the two methods presented thus far. The philosophy behind Flexible Product Design is that the gates, milestones, and reviews are inefficient and both slowdown and cost to the development process. This process emphasizes cross-functional engineering reviews before the design is frozen and is aimed at maintaining extremely low costs while meeting aggressive deadlines.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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