Designing a product that consumers want is filled with challenges. In the end, product development is not about what you want; it is about what the user wants. This is not always easy to figure out, which is why you must put in place an effective process for product management.

The only way to come up with a product design that will prove successful in the market is to get the various shareholders associated with it involved. Cooperation is the key to good product development. You will need to solicit, share, store, analyze, and act on information from engineers, marketing, retailers, and customers themselves. As a product designer, you will need to work with all of these people at various stages of development. And you will have to do a great deal of team building to get the best ideas and effort from everyone involved.

Transparency of ideas is essential to good teamwork. Each of the groups of individuals mentioned above will view the product from their perspective. The people who work in sales will think of the product design as an item that must be presented to distributors and retailers. The engineers will think of the technical possibilities and limitations of the design. If you have gathered together a coterie of consumers to help with the design, they will think of the ways in which the product may help them solve some particular problem they’re grappling with or enhance some aspect of their life.

No one’s opinion, idea, or feedback should be discounted. The best way to take ideas seriously is to track them using an advanced and interactive database. A number of software programs and service companies like Product Board and others now available that allow you to do just that.

Product development is done in phases. As you move through them, having the right product management tools will allow you to solicit ideas from your team. Everyone should have access to the ideas that come in. Each person should have an opportunity to comment on and analyze them. Using these tools will give you the ability to brainstorm as a group and to evaluate select ideas altogether. You will also be able to set criteria and agreed upon principles for what should go into the design and how it should be developed to perform certain functions. Ideas can be combined and fused in ways that meet these standards. You will be able to communicate and share in real-time in order to make decisions and meet deadlines.

When you have come up with a design that seems workable, you will need the ability to test it. This must first be done using computer-driven simulations. Running such software will provide you with critical information as to the possible flaws and failures in the design. It will also alert you to potential safety problems.

The protection of intellectual property is also important. If you come to a point in which you need to incorporate technology from different products that you already hold patents for or you have come up with a design that needs to be patented, you may need to restrict who gets to view certain features of the design.

All of these are tools that are required to run a successful product development project. They will enable you and your team to work through the highly challenging process of designing a solid consumer product. They will enable your design team and start-up firm to succeed in your chosen field.