How to Improve Communication During Product Development

How to Improve Communication During Product Development

The process of creating a new product can be a long one, as going to market with an item that’s not 100 per cent ready could result in failure and a significant loss of money for your company.

Product development strategies will vary, depending on your business sector, the type of product you are creating and the many different legal restrictions that your particular goods may be subject to. In most projects, however, the process will involve:

  •       Recognising a market need
  •       Envisioning a product that meets the need
  •       Carrying out extensive research and development
  •       Considering quality and cost
  •       Product design – building a prototype
  •       Product testing
  •       Process design
  •       Marketing, sales and distribution

At the core of every successful product development project is the need to get the new product right the first time around. Mistakes could be costly and rarely are there second chances if the first version fails to live up to expectations.

It is, therefore, essential to have your lines of communication wide open throughout the product development process, ensuring that all parties involved – designers, PR companies, research teams, manufacturers and the like – are all aware of what’s going on and able to provide advice whenever it’s needed.

So how do you maintain strong communication throughout a product development project, especially when stakeholders may be located in different offices around the city or on the other side of the globe? Read on for our top tips:

product development meeting
photo credit: Tucano _ Tech & Style, Milano via photopin cc

Create detailed and specific briefs

From the very beginning of a product development project, laying out clear objectives and plans can be incredibly beneficial to everyone involved.

This is certainly true when it comes to the more abstract parts of the project. One common pitfall is for creatives – such as product designers, graphic designers and marketing professionals – the have vague guidelines without enough information.

While these experts will appreciate a bit of freedom when it comes to creative decisions, if you have an idea in mind it’s essential to communicate this with them. Otherwise, you may end up with a result that’s entirely on brief, but completely different from what you were expecting – and this could lead to delays or extra expense.

Plan regular meetings

Depending on the scope of the development and where you are in the project timeline, meetings may need to be held on a daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly basis.

While face-to-face meetings can be useful, they aren’t always a viable option, with team members working from various locations. In these situations, using technology to bring people together can be a great solution. For example, you could make use of reliable conference call services available from companies like Buzz Conferencing.

Use various communication tools

Email is a favourite option for keeping in touch due to its simplicity and ease of access. It’s not, however, always the best option as typing out long explanations can sometimes lead to confusion and it’s easy to forget about an email you don’t want to deal with – only to find it weeks later at the bottom of your inbox.

Before you fire one off, ask yourself it’s really the best option. If it’s something that’s routine or not time sensitive, then email might be a good choice – plus, they have the added benefit of including attachments or links as necessary.

But, for a quick answer or a very short conversation, an instant message might be the better option.

Meanwhile, more complicated conversations are probably best held over the phone, or as part of a conference call with multiple people taking part. By using the right communication tool, you’ll be able to ensure that your message gets across quickly, accurately and with little fuss.

SMB Authors

This article is one of the excellent contributions from small business owners, decision makers and professionals.