Where Product Development Goes Wrong

Michael Vizard

No matter what the industry, the failure rate of most new products is unacceptably high. The trouble is nobody is exactly sure why.

Obviously, to some degree, the people in charge of product development frequently are out of touch with their customers. The challenge is to figure out why and develop procedures for a more systematic approach to product development.

Of course, in some circles, systematic is code for slow. The real challenge, says Christine Crandell, senior vice president of marketing for Accept Software, is to bring order to the requirements chaos that makes up most new product-development efforts in a way that allows companies to maintain their flexibility.

Accept Software makes a software-as-a-service application called Accept 360 that brings a little structure to the process. Beyond just helping companies better manage their ideas through techniques such as crowdsourcing, Accept 360 includes tools to perform return-on-investment analysis on specific product features and the overall impact a product might have on the company's bottom line.

Unfortunately, most companies don't have a structured approach to product development. Instead, they hope that some brilliant insight from somewhere will magically lead to the next great product. That might work for Steve Jobs at Apple, but for everybody else, it's almost a certain path to failure.

Crandell says that Accept Software is also willing to put its money where its mouth is by helping companies assess their product-development processes both before and after deploying Accept 360.

Accept 360 might not be right for every corporate culture, but a little transparency into the product-development process might do wonders for the whole company. So if you get the sense that more than half your product launches are failing because of perhaps the undue influence of one individual or that nothing gets done in a timely manner, then maybe it's time to try a different approach.

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