We’re almost there! Companies that fail to innovate fast today – die out tomorrow. But how can we create products at a remarkable speed without compromising the quality? The answer is – continuous improvement, both of your product and business as a whole.
Did you know that Amazon releases a new change to its services every 11 seconds? This is 8000 changes per day. Amazon is already miles ahead of the competitors, way before they finish their morning coffee.
Amazon knows that the secret to success is not found in some “giant-leap-for-a-mankind” projects. Rather, it’s the small human steps that bring all great companies to the stars. Manageable, incremental, consistent actions.
Below, we have identified the 3 fundamental steps towards fast, high-quality product development. Please note that all of them are vital and have to be done simultaneously and regularly to ensure the best result.
1) Iterate Fearlessly
First of all, we have to understand that no product has ever been rolled out perfect the first time it hit the market. This liberates us to deploy faster, of course, but it also helps focus on the core MVP (minimum viable product) and iterate confidently.
Iterating basically means improving gradually. Providing the essential features (MVP) at first, and adding new ones later when it makes sense.
This is, of course, the basic idea behind Lean startups, and continuous improvement overall. Lean approach is extremely popular nowadays, especially in the software development (remember Agile/SCRUM?), and there are good reasons for this.
The benefits of such a rapid yet balanced product development include:
- Quicker results (if you fail, you fail early and lose less);
- Less initial resources required;
- Faster return on investment;
- Safer scaling (thanks to the early user feedback).
The truth is, no-one can give you a better feedback about your product than the customers. Therefore, make sure you reach them quicker and spend as little as possible until you are confident that the core assumptions work.
Minimize the Time To Market, launch small, get feedback fast, and then improve madly. Follow the same cycle to deploy new features for your existing products – this will enable you to scale at the right pace.
2) Plan Properly
Continuous improvement methodologies and Agile in particular are far from an unstructured mess. In fact, no improvement is even possible without planning. Therefore, highly flexible systems also require an overarching plan to stay productive.
Product development strategy often can be improved in the process, when the new marketing insights are gathered. That’s why you always have to keep in mind the following basic questions:
A. What is your market?
It goes without saying that before starting any product development you should have an idea of your target customer. But what if you’re wrong about who your business should target? Plus, the world keeps on spinning, and, maybe, you’ll have to change your marketing focus with time.
Ask yourself more often:
- What are the needs of our target market?
- What are the benefits of our product?
- Does it fit in the current market?
- What are the features users find lacking?
B. What is the time frame?
Deadlines help us stay put and keep our production rate intact with demand. That’s why it is absolutely necessary to properly define and mind the time frames. Remember that your success heavily depends on how quickly you respond to market changes.
C. What are your methods?
In the software industry, we use various different approaches to prototype, develop, and test the products. Most of our choices depend on the project scope, then the rest follows. Our own checklist looks the following way:
- Product Development Specifications
Here we note the details about requirements, whether it is a native app or web service, has something to do with eCommerce or not, etc. Here we include information about the budget, design features, technical functions, marketing specifications.
- Wireframes Or Functional Prototyping
The complexity of the project defines the depth of the concept development. Sometimes it’s more efficient to simply go with wireframes, agree on the concept and get right to the development stage.
- Development Team
The right choice of people on the team is crucial. For example, we have people with various expertise and technical skills, so for each project, we have to peak the developers carefully. Too many companies try to do everything at once, but it’s simply not possible. We understand that every developer has his strengths and weaknesses.
- Testing Strategy
The product development team chooses the optimal testing method according to the nature of the project. Some products require test automation, which we cover either with our own solutions or frameworks like Selenium. We make sure that testing stage is both fast and effective.
3) Document Everything
By everything, I mean all of the information regarding the product development strategy and history. It doesn’t have to be a truck-sized book, but it has to include the key points and data.
Given that documentation is clear and concise, it can significantly speed up the development process. It also saves a lot of headaches when something breaks, because you have both the grand plan and the history of changes. This way, you also simplify maintenance and boost the overall quality.
Documentation is intended for everyone involved in a project. In software development, for example, it benefits designers, marketers, developers, testers, users, and, of course, clients. Therefore, we usually form the following types of documentation:
- Technical Documentation
Includes information about the architecture and functionality of the software. Extremely important, especially for large projects. Contains a detailed description of different functional parts, APIs, and discussions on the code itself.
- Design Documentation
Explains and shows the final look of the product. Can include both narrative and graphics on how the software should feel like, look like, and behave. Simplifies building stage, help visualize the result before the product is finished.
- User Documentation
Explains how the code works. Depending on the complexing of the product and the target audience, the depth of explanation can vary. As a rule of a thumb, when creating documents for general users, – aim for a clarity and briefness. Use a clean, easy-to-scan layout.
- Marketing Documentation
Everything regarding marketing strategy, brand development, and analytics are included here. Very important, as all of the decisions invoke a certain market response, which can be researched beforehand. Marketing data is power when it’s in the right hands.
Deploying high-quality products quickly and improving rapidly is possible. However, it requires adopting a constructive yet flexible development framework that will support consistent improvement.
To succeed in today’s quickly changing market conditions, companies must concentrate on product development speed, not just quality. Time To Market has to be reduced to a minimum to receive customer feedback and improve faster. Higher quality can be achieved through Lean methodology (like Agile), parallel testing, and proper documentation.
Finally, finding the right partner for your business can make your business improvement process ever easier. Whether you’re up for creating a new product or supporting the existing one, we’re ready to help you!
Boost Solutions has both business experts and software developers to help your company succeed. Contact us today to find out more about our custom solutions.