Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Legal aspects in Product Requirements Identification

New Product development starts with a basic product idea (see: Developing New Product Ideas). The next step is to identify all the product requirements. Product requirements should also include legislation requirements set by various governments and also regulations set by trade organizations. Identifying these sets of regulations and legislation's that impact the product is a vital step in defining product requirements.

As the regulations and legal mandates changes with each country, one needs to identify the markets where the product will be sold, and then incorporate those regulations/legislation requirements as part of product requirement.


Governments all over the world have specific statutory requirements for various products. For example, in case of cars, each country has specific emission standards, for Electronic goods - there are various rules such as RoHS, Electro Magnetic Radiation levels, etc. In addition to meeting those specific requirements, the end product will have to be certified by proper authorities, and that can create additional requirements. Legal legislation will also specify the labeling and packaging of the products as well. All these legal requirements should be part of product requirements.


In addition to legal mandates, there are additional requirements in terms of regulations from trade organizations that has to be met, else the customer may not accept the product. For example ISO 14000, ISO9000 certifications, ITAR - for selling to US military, etc,
These regulations are not mandatory, but customers will not buy the product if it does not adhere to those regulations.

Closing Thoughts

For startups, these legislation and regulations add up to additional development costs and entry barriers to other markets. There are lot of costs, time and efforts needed to pass all the required legal and regulatory requirements. These requirements are not optional and must be fulfilled - else the product can't be sold, no matter how good or how beneficial it is. Often times, start-ups fail to identify the legal and regulatory requirements till the product development is complete and they try to sell the product. Realizing the regulatory and legal requirements after product development is complete is nothing short of a disaster. The product will have to be re-developed & re-tested. All this will mean delay in entering the market and wasted resources.

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