Product planning is a process of discussing and defining features of a product before its development. There are a number of phases to product planning, including gathering input, refining ideas, approving and designating projects and tasks, refining market requirements and beginning product development. Product planning is important for a number of reasons.
Get Everyone's Input
One of the earliest stages of product planning is gathering input about a new product idea. This step is important because it allows you to step back and look at ideas from a number of different groups of people, including your developers, sales team, customer support team, shareholders, management and your customers. All perspectives are important, but pay close attention to customer feedback. You can conduct a survey to ask existing customers about features they want and price they would pay, as well as any other details specific to your product. This also gives everyone involved a chance to weigh in so no one feels like their idea was not acknowledged.
Evaluate and Refine Ideas
Most of the time, there are a lot of ideas about a new product. Some are conflicting, some are unrealistic and some just miss the mark, so you will need to evaluate and sort through all ideas to find the best. Document and discuss each idea with your product marketing team. If one or more ideas for the product pop up multiple times, chances are that is an idea worth pursuing. It is important to acknowledge all ideas and evaluate which ones are the best, then refine those ideas to include specific details about a product, such as features. These refined ideas are the initial plan or design for the product.
Analyze the Market
Another part of product planning is analyzing the market. Specifically, you must look at the latest consumer trends and behavior in your particular industry or market. Pay attention to what similar products are selling best, what features or product details consumers are attracted to, and what they are spending on other similar products. Make note of features or functionality that are missing from similar products but are wanted or needed by your target customers. This information is important because it allows you to make changes to the product before production begins, as well as helping you begin to think about how to successfully market the product to drive sales.
Establish Time Line
Product planning also helps you establish a time line for the cycle of a new product, from conception to design and production. A time line is important to give you a target launch date. However, be cautious when establishing deadlines; do not be too aggressive, or else you might set your team up for failure.
Chris Newton has worked as a professional writer since 2001. He spent two years writing software specifications then spent three years as a technical writer for Microsoft before turning to copywriting for software and e-commerce companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado.