The Ultimate Product Development Checklist

Komal Ahuja
April 4, 2023
min read
December 4, 2023
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Streamline product development with a 7-step checklist. Learn how to bring your product to market efficiently.
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What if we told you most product development teams waste 3.4 hours per week locating, accessing, and communicating the correct CAD information to the stakeholders? Yes! 

According to Onshape’s State of Product Development and Hardware Design, product development teams are inefficient in collaborating with external suppliers and internal stakeholders. This results in delays in the product development processes and even failure to execute critical steps. 

Solution: Create a product development checklist with tools like Scribe to organize your functions and keep you on track. 

In this article, we'll discuss the 7-step checklist you must follow to bring your product to life. 

What is a product development checklist?

A product development checklist outlines your product development process. A product manager often uses and creates it to lead the entire development process. 

Using a product development checklist streamlines your operations in the early stage with detailed information, documents and FAQs — distribute them among your team members and stakeholders.

For example, you can use Scribe to create a quick process document that can help your product team be informed about each step in the product development process. 

Your product development checklist

Use this product development to-do list template while developing the product from concept to market:

  • Ideation.
  • Idea screening.
  • Product definition.
  • Prototyping.
  • Validation and testing.
  • Commercialization.

Ready to uncover the different stages of product development in detail? Keep reading.

Stage 1: Ideation

This is the initial phase of the product development process, where you generate ideas. Develop innovative and unfiltered product concepts based on customer pain points, concept testing and market research.

While brainstorming product concepts, consider the following factors:

  • Target audience: Identify your consumer persona in the initial product ideation phase to build your product concept and target the right market from the beginning.
  • Existing product: Evaluate your existing products to come up with a better and improved version of the existing one by considering point points, competitor analysis, market share analysis, and your product differentiation for market capture.
  • Functionality: Have a rough idea of the functions your initial concept will serve. Consider how the product will look and feel and why your target audience would be interested in your product. 
  • SWOT analysis: Analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats at the initial stage. This will help you understand whether to proceed with the idea. 
  • SCAMPER method: Use the SCAMPER methodology to refine your concept-substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate, and reverse your product concept. 

This will help you solidify your ideation to move to the next stage.

Stage 2: Idea screening

After brainstorming the product ideas, you need to conduct an in-depth research on your initial concept and validate them. Here a few ways to get you started:

  • Use crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to see whether people are ready to pay for your idea or not.
  • Ask for people’s opinions on the Reddit and Slack communities. Explore niche subreddits and communities relevant to your product idea and target audience.
  • Use Google Trends to discover what questions your target audience is looking for. Find out what your product can do for them by studying these questions.

During this stage, you can also conduct a competitor analysis to identify what other players are doing and how they market their products. For this, you can sign up for their email list or take a product demo and evaluate how they communicate with their audience and position themselves and their products.

Once the research is done, do some analysis for yourself and consider if there’s a demand for your product in the market. If so, consider if you have enough differentiating factors to take market share from your competitors and capture users.

Stage 3: Product definition

After you’ve validated your product idea, it’s time to define the product: business analysis, value proposition, success metrics, and marketing strategy.

Business analysis

Here, the goal is to start building a clearly defined product roadmap.

Here’s a checklist you can follow:

  • Proposed price: What price do you want to sell your product at?
  • Competitor prices: Are your competitors selling a similar product? If so, what’s their price point?
  • Break-even point: How many product units do you need to sell to cover your business costs?
  • Sales volume: Based on your research, how many products do you expect to sell?
  • Return on investment: How long will it take to see a return on investment?
  • Product relevance: Will the product fall off-trend or out of season?

These factors will help you get a bigger picture of your product and dive deeper into the operational and financial aspects of creating a product to determine anticipated profitability.

🎓 Related Resource: How to Write an Operations Manual

Value proposition

The value proposition emphasizes what problem the product is solving. Consider how it differs from other products in the market. For example, 3veta, an appointment scheduling solution, offers one roof to their customers for all their appointment needs: booking pages, video calls, and payments.

Their value proposition: Providing a 'one-roof' solution for multiple products.

This will help you understand how to position your product and create a Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy to help you acquire the right set of users.

Success metrics

Be informed on the critical success metrics you need to look at once the product is launched because it will help you create a roadmap that will bridge the gap between expectations and reality.

These success metrics can be:

  • Average order value (AOV).
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT).
  • Retention rate.
  • Churn rate.
  • Conversion rate.
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV).
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC).

Marketing strategy

Brainstorm how you’ll market your product even before launch. For example, think about which UX design company would offer the best user experience, or which marketing channels would offer the best leverage for your audience.

🔥 Scribe top tip: Start building your product publicly: share updates about your progress on social channels like Twitter and LinkedIn. This will help you market the product simultaneously, even before the product launch.

Stage 4: Prototyping

Once the product is defined, you can start building the minimum viable product (MVP) with initial prototyping. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a technique used to introduce a new product in the market with basic or minimal features. The development of MVP allows you to reduce risks and save time. This will help you:

  • Gauge the response from prospective consumers
  • Get feedback from the consumers
  • Better their final product into the market. 

Facebook developed its MVP in 2004 and was called Thefacebook. The product lacked several features it has today and served as a social network for Harvard students.

Here’s how the platform looked back then. 

During this stage, your product team will likely create a comprehensive business plan and construct the product. Here's how to do it:

  • Start with a hand-drawn sketch or a detailed computer render of the design to see how the final product will look, and help you identify risk areas before creating the final product.
  • Create a design brief outlining the product specifications, packaging, and key features.
  • Source materials and make an initial mock-up of your product, including packaging and branding.
  • Connect with project stakeholders to verify the initial design and share timely reports to get approval and stay on track.
  • Ask senior management and project stakeholders to review the plan for initial feedback and revise the plan.

Step 5: Validation & testing

In this stage, you’ll ensure that each part of the product,  from development to marketing, is working effectively before making it public. 

Use this Release Requirements Template to document your comprehensive product development process. To ensure the quality of the product, use this checklist: 

  • Concept development and testing: Developed the prototype successfully? Great. But there is a possibility that technical issues may arise while developing the concept. These issues could be software development or physical production of the initial prototype. So, test the functionality with the help of your technical team and beta testers. This ensures the quality of the development. 
🔥 Scribe top tip: Tweak your concept until you succeed, but discard the ideas that offer no value to consumers.
  • Front-end testing: Test the front-end functionality to verify the risks with development code or consumer-facing errors. For example, if you enter the first name and last name into the front end of the product, it should not accept numbers and special characters.
  • Test marketing: The goal is to test the product and its marketing strategy. This includes targeting, positioning, advertising, distribution, price, branding, packaging, and budget. 

Step 7: Commercialization

This is the final stage where you’ll introduce your product to the market. Here, you’ll work on product development and e-commerce implementation.

  • Product development: Once your prototype is validated with the MVP, you can start iterating, following the user feedback and issues, to produce the final product. Remember, product development is an ongoing process, and you’ll constantly have to reiterate to make it a better version with improved functionality.
  • E-commerce implementation: Now, your development team will shift the e-commerce products to a live state. This may require additional testing to bring the live product functions as they worked during the front-end testing phase.

Once your final product is live, you can start measuring the success metrics you defined in the initial stage and iterate on it to get a product your customers love. 

Benefits of using a product development checklist

Without a product development checklist, it’s easy for you to get lost and fall off track. But the product development checklist ensures you can care for everything and focus on the output more than the process. Here’s how:

  • Coordinates cross-functional efforts: With the product development checklist in place, all the tasks, minor and critical, are captured. This way, stakeholders from different departments can collaborate with the product team without missing the critical steps. 
  • Boost efficiency: Even if a new person is doing the task each time, having a product development template or process document will help you streamline the process and leaves no room for confusion and errors.

It’s time to reduce the friction!

Developing a product can be challenging, and a product development checklist is essential to ensure a streamlined and efficient process. 

By following the seven-step checklist outlined in this article, from ideation to commercialisation, product managers can better understand each stage and the critical aspects to consider. 

You can also use tools like Scribe to organize and distribute information to the team members and stakeholders, thereby minimising errors and delays. Ultimately, having a well-defined and structured product development process can increase the chances of success and reduce friction in the product development journey.

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