Product planning is a process used to identify and develop new products. The purpose of planning is to make choices about which product ideas a company should invest in. Companies can approach product planning from a number of different perspectives. Having a system in place before planning begins is important as it helps to avoid wasted time and creates a framework for decision making. Consultants who specialize in marketing and corporate decision making can be involved in the development of a product planning system for a company, which will accommodate the company's approach to business while helping it avoid expensive dead ends.
At any given time, a company should have numerous ideas for new products and services circulating. These ideas come from customers, distributors, people within the company, and research conducted by the company. This research can include surveys, research on competitors, and study of the market to identify emerging needs. A company must be able to act quickly on time-sensitive product ideas while also stopping bad ideas in their tracks.
People responsible for product planning can come from diverse departments within a company. This is designed to ensure that many different perspectives are incorporated from the start. A group can describe a proposed product, explain why it would be valuable to start selling, and demonstrate what kinds of costs would be associated with development and production. Reports from individual product planning groups can be evaluated to single out candidates for further development.
This process can become extremely complicated. There may be cases in which executives push through their own pet products, for example, ignoring the problems with their proposals or the recommendations of people involved in product planning. Companies can also be too slow with their development, resulting is missing out on a potential new market. They can also act too fast and end up with an unsellable product. For companies involved in the manufacturing of products associated with rapidly evolving trends, being able to act quickly and efficiently is critical.
One important aspect of product planning involves recognizing that it may be necessary to abandon or temporarily halt development of a new product. Having checklists in place for various steps of the planning process allows companies to constantly review products in development. If a product appears to be falling short, the project can be stopped before the company loses any more money. Companies determined to bring every single product proposal all the way through development and onto the market can wind up with costly failures.