Hardware product development strategy: Achieving success from idea to launch

June 12, 2023

TABLE OF CONTENTS

From ideation to product launch, the key to creating a successful product development strategy is that each step in the process must be treated with as much importance as the last.

In this piece, we’ll explore these strategies and their benefits in detail, showing you how implementing them successfully can help your hardware engineering firm better meet customer needs — and drive growth.

What is a hardware product development strategy?

A hardware product development strategy is a well-defined plan that guides the entire process of bringing new hardware to market

Hardware product development strategies help you align your resources and identify potential target markets,  so you can build successful products. They help you conduct effective market research and incorporate the subsequent customer feedback that comes with it.

A well-thought-out hardware product development strategy also drives innovation as it helps determine your goals and directs the actions needed to create your eventual value proposition.

In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into how to create a solid strategy and what to include.

How to create a hardware product development strategy

Following a straightforward, systematic product development strategy may seem to work against freedom and creativity, but it actually does the opposite. Having product development mapped out gives hardware engineering teams more time to innovate.  

Here’s how to create a well-structured product development strategy: 

Define your vision

The first step on any roadmap for success is to have a clear and concise vision for the purpose of your hardware product. Your vision should inspire, motivate, and achieve its purpose in uniting all your resources and optimizing them to their fullest potential. It should also include objectives, constraints, opportunities for feedback, and collaboration to create something everyone can get behind.

Conduct in-depth market research

A primary factor driving growth and demand on a buyer’s journey is whether or not the product fits their needs. 

Before even attempting to build any new hardware idea, it’s best to check out if the market even needs it in the first place through market research. This can include current market trends, demographics, preferences, and even attitudes toward different pricing for your ideal buyer’s persona.

Collect data through different research methodologies and tools. Focus groups, social media outreach/analytics, and even customer feedback surveys can produce new understandings of your customer’s problems and help you innovate a solution for them.

You should also evaluate existing products and their success to learn from mistakes or find opportunities to reuse designs and components to speed up the process.

Set clear goals and objectives.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the pain points and needs of your target audience, you can begin to work on the solution. Start by setting SMART goals and objectives, defining your targets, and giving your team a sense of purpose and direction.

Specific goals for your product might be attaining a particular market share in your industry, expanding your product line, or enhancing overall customer satisfaction with another existing offering. Break each high-level goal into clear, easy-to-follow tasks for team members to address.

Use the right product development tools

Hardware product development can be a lengthy process.  Idea generation, project management, feedback collection, and validation are critical components of every product development process and strategy, and each of these takes time. It’s necessary to document information at each stage of development to keep everyone on the same page. 

Duro provides a PLM solution that streamlines workflows and facilitates innovation within hardware engineering teams, helping to accelerate your product development and ensure that it is both on time and successful.

Empower customers to be a part of the process

User experience is arguably one of the most essential steps in developing new hardware. Engineering teams can spend countless hours designing and creating a beautifully executed concept that the market didn’t need in the first place. 

You can create your initial solution from the information you gained during your initial market testing, but your ideal customers should also be part of any early iterations.  To aid your marketing efforts, you’ll want to find customers to champion your product, increase brand loyalty, and help ensure a smoother product launch. 

Customer feedback from your buyer’s persona, especially on user experience (UX) design principles, must meet their needs and the expectations you’ve laid out. Once you have an MVP, you’ve already won half the battle, but it’s not over yet.

Seek out and engage existing and potential customers on social media platforms and even form testing groups to understand your messaging better and gain a more genuine competitive advantage.

Follow the 7 stages of the product development process and fine-tune as you go

By following the seven steps of the hardware product development lifecycle, you can consistently refine your process and feel assured that you have developed a comprehensive business strategy to help you overcome challenges and increase the likelihood of launching a successful product.

  1. IdeationEvery hardware product starts as an idea. 
  2. Validating: You want to move quickly towards an MVP and not waste time on things the market doesn’t need. Validate your team’s ideas through competitor analysis, market research, and surveys.
  3. Prototyping: The team creates a rough model or prototype to test its functionality and design and gather feedback for improvements before moving forward.
  4. Testing: Before committing to a final design, testing functionality and ensuring it works is necessary. You can involve customer testing at this stage, but expectations should be that they only experiment with viability and not the product’s overall experience.
  5. Marketing: Develop a marketing strategy before your product launches. This helps to build brand loyalty and, more importantly, generate expectations and buzz.
  6. Building: Your initial prototype is now ready to be turned into a product the market will find compelling. Collaboration between engineers, designers, and manufacturers should be the prime focus, and continuous testing should be done for quality. At this point, a practical PLM system can also help your designers and engineers make better decisions.
  7. Launching: Launch the product by introducing it to the market. Communicate, monitor sales, and see what your customers say in the media. Your marketing strategy and the quality product should spark great interest if the steps are followed.

Tips for an effective hardware product development strategy

When every stage of product development is carefully planned and executed, we can observe numerous advantages throughout the entire product life cycle, including:

Aligning cross-functional departments from the start

Your business strategy works best when everyone is on the same page. 

To create a truly great product, having a cohesive team that works together across different areas of expertise is essential. Everyone involved in the development process should have a shared goal and align around it. 

Setting up a cross-functional development team can reduce friction and miscommunication, promote cross-training, and encourage the development of new ideas. 

Improving time-to-market efficiency

It’s important to generate and evaluate product ideas quickly to ensure success. This involves expanding on existing products, brainstorming new ideas, conducting focus groups, and ultimately creating a minimum viable product (MVP) that resonates with your intended audience.

It’s not always the best hardware that remains at the forefront, but also the best known. If you fear similar products have a distinct advantage over yours, speed and agile development can be a better catalyst to create a winning strategy than trying to add more features.

Remember that “quick” doesn’t necessarily mean “inaccurate.” Rushing through different stages and needing to redo steps will set you back just as much as over-attention to detail. A structured process with clear deadlines will improve time to market much more effectively than an unstructured one that results in errors and additional rework time.

Enhancing decision making

Decision-making during product development is critical for product management and maintaining (or expanding) your market share. 

The elements of a great product roadmap are far more than planning and execution — often, it is about making difficult choices and sticking to them.

Through your market research, focus groups, and other customer feedback, you can leverage all available data to make a decision. Be careful not to get stuck in “analysis paralysis” when looking at the numbers, as this does not always depict the entire situation. Involve your internal team and get their honest opinion on potential challenges and the overall market landscape.

By making well-thought-out choices, your hardware engineering firm can minimize risk and align the product with the present demand.

Identifying areas for iteration

The best growth strategy is always to improve, improve, and improve.  During your initial iterations of a product line, review all performance metrics and feedback from what your market (and team) is telling you.

Even if your team feels that they have a winning product already on the market, there always needs to be a constant review of the user experience and market demand.

Market testing should be an ongoing process, not a one-time thing when doing a new launch or improvement. Closely monitor each stage of development with your product team to gain valuable insights on areas you can improve.

Some common areas to explore include feedback, design, manufacturing, and marketing processes. Identify how an improvement might affect the customer journey and the overall dynamic between your team members. In doing so, you can deliver better products to your customers and ensure they are continuously satisfied.

Streamline your hardware product development strategy with Duro

Developing a successful product requires a well-defined process and sticking to the critical stages of the product development lifecycle. Defining your vision, conducting market research, setting clear goals, involving your customers in the process, and, ultimately, using the right tools will give your hardware engineering firm a competitive advantage.

Duro offers a cloud-native PLM solution that integrates hardware design, iteration, and essential collaboration features into one holistic platform. 

Accelerate your hardware product development process, and unlock your organization’s full potential today with Duro — request your demo today.

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