Technology Development Processes

Whilst it is possible to develop new technology as part of a new product development process, it is usually better to separate out the two, because they are not quite the same thing.

The problem with developing new technology is the uncertainty of the outcome. It is difficult to predict the cost and the timescale, or even whether it will work at all. However for a successful product introduction you need a high level of certainty. Purchasing need to know what to buy and when, manufacturing need to know when to start building the new product, marketing need to know when to start the advertising campaign, sales need to know when to start calling customers etc.

Therefore it is usually a good idea to have a separate project to develop the technology up to a point that it is usable and then to introduce it into a product. Some people who have studied Japanese practices call this ‘Shelf Engineering’, i.e. preparing something then putting it on the shelf when it is ready, for the next product program to pick up and use.

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

The issue is deciding when it is ‘ready’.

To help with this various organisations use a scale of Technology Readiness levels (TRL). To find out more, go here.

Technology Development

Technology development is subtly different to product development and so it is better if it has a slightly different gated process. See here for more info.


Technology roadmaps show what technology is going to be needed to meet the business strategy and provide the products of the future. For more info see here.

Disruptive Technology

Disruptive technology is a technology that disrupts the status quo in an industry, often being brought into the market by new players. For more info see here.

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your technology development process, then contact us.