One of the most important things that any software development company must remember is that getting the product “right” is the key to success. Success for the client as well as success for their software development partner. A successful product launch is more than just a “job well done” – it is the foundation for every move a company will make in the future. While it’s true that product development is every bit as much an art as it is a science, there are still a few rules that you can follow today to help make things easier and ultimately better for both client and partner for the present as well as all future projects.
DO: Define “Success” in Terms of Your Current Project or Client
As a custom software development partner, there are two key components to success that should be kept at the top of any product development strategy. It isn’t enough to just deliver a product that is technically functional in that it does what the requirements have directed the software to do. It also needs to operate in a way that actually accomplishes the unique goals that the client had in the first place, and in situations where this may be a first project for the partnership, it should even exceed expectations of the client.
From some client’s perspective, success may be a product that was delivered on time, with the functionality that was specified and under or at the budget that was specified. But how does a client define “success”? They don’t just need a finished product – they need a product that will truly satisfy and sometimes expand on the goals of the of their product strategy.
As a result, the first step of successful software product development is and always will be defining what “success” actually means in the context of the partnership that has been created. This will require the constant input of not only partner team but the client’s to help set unique goals and set realistic expectations.
DON’T: Incorporate Features for added Feature’s Sake
Far too many software development companies lose themselves in the break-neck pace at which technology continues to advance. Innovation for the sake of including innovative ideas does not always equate to real value, and it doesn’t even come close to equaling success.
Gone are the days of the “kitchen sink” approach to software development projects, where a product had to do hundreds of different things in order to stand out. In the new app-centric world in which we now live, the most successful products tend to do have less features, but they do them incredibly well with the high performance ratings. Adding new functionality is great – provided that it all services the end goal which usually is a very happy user experience.
Clients tend to think that adding features will make a better product. But, adding features for the sake of expounding on what is “new” only serves to distract from what the software product should do really well and also may reduce the positive end-user experience a software product was trying to create in the first place. What good is a product that does “X, Y and Z” if it doesn’t perform those functions well, especially the original specified requirement features in the Statement of work. It is imperative for the software development partner to communicate the benefits of not expanding on the requirements before the original features are performing at satisfactory levels.
DO: The MVP – Minimum Viable Product
Another important concept to understand with a software development partnership is that the immediate goal isn’t to design the perfect product – it is to design the minimum viable product that you will then continue to refine and improve moving forward. This may sound like a bad strategy, but with satisfying the basic requirements of a product and then improving on it, it will allow for users of client teams to interact with the product quicker to give feedback that will be needed to improve the requirements that were in the original requirements document.
By starting with the bare framework of the product, which can then be released for user testing it ensures that there is “by-in” by the stakeholders. This feedback which includes their likes, their dislikes is then actionable data that client and partner can use to adjust and change the product in subsequent revisions, thus allowing you a better chance of not only releasing a product that does what you said it would, but that also does it in a way that is actually enjoyable to use because it wasn’t developed in a vacuum.
In a Nut-shell
These are just a few of the rules for successful software product development that need to keep in mind when developing a software development product strategy. Every project will represent its own unique challenges with its own unique definition of “success.” By having a clear understanding of exactly what it is that the project needs to accomplish as early as possible, places client and partner in a much better position to actually reach that destination at project completion.