So you’ve got an idea? Before it can even begin to enter into product development, you want to figure out whether it’s a good idea or a bad one. In the past, a lot of idea screening centered on random insights and brainstorming before entering into product development. Now, things are a bit more sophisticated and often involve a more rigorous process up front, befittingly called front end innovation.
Front end innovation is the process of identifying opportunities, then validating and prioritizing those opportunities before pushing them into development. It’s the first step towards generating a new product and can hold a lot of weight towards the success or failure of that product. Front end innovation came about through the inefficiencies in software development in conjunction with the “waterfall” approach. Today, it’s still applicable to software but has since been aligned with agile methodologies and many industries in the business of product innovation. When properly implemented, front end innovation can have a huge impact on the bottom line.
How to Implement
Surprisingly enough, a formal framework for front end innovation has yet to be adopted, hence it’s commonly referred to as the “Fuzzy Front End.” However, the process doesn’t have to be “fuzzy,” particularly when you can align it with your market research:
Front End Innovation in Agile
So why go through all this work for ideas that may or may not prove to be viable? Because 75% of new products that hit the market fail to succeed in their first year. Meaning, if you guide an untested product to fruition and it fails, you could be losing far more time and money: more than if you tested it through front end innovation. Whether your business is in software, consumer packaged goods, or food and drink, front end innovation provides critical benefits to product development by
- Reducing risk and uncertainty of new ideas
- Accelerating product development post front end innovation
- Focusing budget and company resources on only the most promising products
When used with agile methodologies, front end innovation can provide additional benefits. For example, it allows an idea to fail faster— preventing additional effort or resources to be wasted. The waterfall approach only provides structure when moving from one phase to the next like a typical product development timeline. An agile approach allows an idea to change through multiple iterations before developing into a full concept. It also allows greater flexibility when external factors arise like manufacturing limitations or leadership concerns. All in all, building in numerous user tests (no matter how small) and continual market validations can lead front end innovation into successful innovations.
To learn more about how GutCheck helped a brand conduct front end innovation through a Concept Prioritizer, check out the executive summary below.