What are the things that a developer needs to be aware of and develop within so that they can be free to create a fantastic product ?
I’ll keep this simple:
Q: What does a product developer need to consider during the development of a new product?
A: A lot…..The end!
Wow, that’s a bit scary, isn’t it ? But fear not.
A. We’ll break it down into bits (how do you eat an elephant?) and
B. A product developer does not need to know it all, they just need to know who to consult and bring into the team at the right time.
There are lots of ways to depict the key considerations, you can have them as a beautiful flower with the consumer experience in the centre or a golf course where you need to get to all the holes before you get to the prize… I decided to go for a house frame. It may be inflexible, but once sorted you are free to decorate the house as you like ! (Ok maybe parallels are not my strong point 😂)
Let’s explore each section:
The absolute foundation is of course food safety, legality and financial viability, for the last one I have assumed that you are developing for a food business and therefore if there is no profit, the product is not sustainable. Not much else to add here, other than that by safety you need to think microbes, toxins, contamination, allergies, foreign matter, product use etc. and by legal, think export markets, special dietary groups etc.
The pillars come next.
- Sustainability of materials – this is key and the responsible thing to do for the planet.
- Ethical sourcing – how are your materials produced ? This is often a procurement person’s responsibility, but it is worth you asking the question.
- Consistent Quality – this is a product developer’s “bread & butter”. Defining and setting quality parameters, checks etc is what we do. The trick here is to think the whole supply chain i.e. from having confidence that your materials are consistent at every delivery, to what happens during your manufacturing process, during transport, retailer handling of the product and even in the consumer’s environment. The product may have left your space of jurisdiction, but it is still your “baby”.
- Shelf life – This is another one of our “bread & butter” activities.
- Brand Alignment – the example here is designing a recipe with for example, artificial flavours when the brand is all about natural ingredients ⛔️.
- Waste Proofing – have a look at one of my previous posts Waste Not Want Not
- Carbon footprint – understanding a product’s footprint and then creating a plan to reduce it is important. We’ve got to do this if we are serious about moving the dial in the race to tackle climate change. Again, this is not the responsibility of the product developer, but you do need to know enough to ask the right questions.
If you stay on top of these questions and you structure your activities to take them into account as you progress through the stages of a project – it can be done, you can build processes and templates for this to happen – then you can avoid bad surprises and put your energy in creating a wonderful consumer experience and a great tasting product. You can focus on creating recipes that deliver on a claim or promise and deliver the brief.
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