As cloud based software get “smarter” and more complex, the more complicated the process required to build them. Connected and always available SaaS model has also changed the expectations from users. To stay on top of the development phase it becomes essential to have a sound Product Development strategy and process. The process can include identifying a product concept, seeking market feedback about the idea, creating a prototype, preparing marketing and sales campaigns, building the product and releasing it to customers, and making adjustments based on market feedback.
Creating your Product Development Strategy
The product management team plays a crucial role in product development – playing a key role in the process. Product development is a much broader process that involves the coordinated effort of many teams across a company, including:
- Product management
- Design (UX/UI)
- Development (or manufacturing)
- Testing and QA
- Shipping or distribution
What is a Product Development Strategy?
To achieve market success with its product, an organization must first map out a methodology. It should be a step-by-step plan that will guide the team to move forward at each stage along with the product journey from concept to actual launch.
A product development strategy is crucial for following reasons:
1. Aligns the cross-functional team:
This will help the team make better-informed decisions with better understanding of the big-picture goals and priorities.
2. Provides feedback and guidance:
While following agile, the product team can receive honest user feedback at very early stages and throughout the product development journey at every step. This allows product teams to be in a better position to adapt to expected changes or pivot and prioritize user requested features first.
3. More efficient development.
A clearly defined product development strategy, simply allows product team to allocate their efforts and resources more efficiently. In an agile development organization, this will also help clarify which task-level initiatives take priority at any given time, and which ones to include in an upcoming sprint.
Building a Product Development Strategy Around Design Thinking
Product development strategies differ by company, industry, and other factors. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that works under all circumstances. There are common elements to many successful product development strategies.
Few teams also build a product development strategy around the design thinking approach—a framework for creating products based on looking at the world from your user’s perspective.
The Design Thinking Approach:
- Empathize with users
- Define the problem
- Brainstorm potential solutions
- Build a prototype
- Test your solution
Applying a Product Development Strategy to The Design Thinking Approach:
Step 1: Empathize with users.
User personas and user-interviews are a good start to bring the user’s perspective and pain points in front of your product team. It helps them understand the problem statement better and prioritize features and functionalities as per the target audience.
Step 2: Define the problem
Now that you’ve been able to view how your users view the world, you can think through some of the challenges they face. Where have you noticed them throwing a vacuum-cleaner cord over their shoulders?
For every step in your product development strategy, you will want to create a structure, a plan.
You might organize your work into the following 3 steps:
1. Write down every user pain point you’ve identified.
2. Distill these into a shortlist, just a handful of pain points. You can narrow the list to only the most severe pain points you’ve found, or according to pain points that you believe your team could most quickly and easily develop a solution. Or a combination of both.
3. Run the list by your product team for additional input, and to arrive at a list the team agrees is worth pursuing.
Step 3: Brainstorm potential solutions
Again, in a product development strategy, you’ll need structure at every step – build a process around it. For example:
1. Share with the team the user findings from user research. It will help the team better understand the approach to different types of solutions.
2. Establish go/no-go criteria for each suggestion.
3. After you’ve narrowed your list of product concepts down to a manageable number, conduct a rough calculation of time, budget, and resources needed to develop a minimum viable product.
Step 4: Build a prototype
Here you will coordinate with your designers and your development team to build an MVP or a working version of your concept that you can put in real users’ hands or to showcase to the stakeholders.
Step 5: Test the solution
In the design thinking approach, this final stage refers not to internal QA testing but to allowing your user personas to try your product and tell you what they like and don’t like about it.
So we’ve discussed product development strategies only in terms of creating a new product. But product teams can also apply this step-by-step framework to a wide range of other strategic plans such as while enhancing an existing product or building a new product spin-off based on existing product.
Source: This article first appeared on ProductPlan