There are over 30,000 new products introduced every year, and 95 percent fail.— Clayton Christensen, Professor, Harvard Business Review
Software product development is a pain point for many non-tech companies: it is where ideas meet harsh reality. Technical limitations, along with time and budget constraints stand in the way of an utopian vision. Statistics show that only one in three software products wins the market, and the bigger the project, the higher the risks.
With so much at stake, selecting a proper product development strategy requires careful thought and a profound domain expertise of both: the key industry and the IT industry. Let’s find out what the product development process is really about.
Let us start with the definition of software product development.
Product development is a product’s journey from its initial concept through the market launch. Whether you develop a B2B or B2C application, your goal involves meeting customer’s expectations. To achieve that, you need to follow a highly organized product design and development process across well-orchestrated product development stages.
Luckily, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, as there are various product development methods to choose from. Each methodology connects tech teams, non-tech teams, and stakeholders to ensure the product development process is cost-efficient and aligns with user and business needs.
In the following sections, we’ll run through the product development process steps and give you an overview of the most popular product development methodologies.
While creating something fundamentally new can be very fulfilling, many of the best ideas result from iterating upon an existing product. Ideation takes place during discovery workshops in the form of strategic brainstorming by the project teams alongside an in-depth analysis of customer behavior, expectations, competitive analysis, transforming and adapting existing ideas into applicable solutions.
Product validation, also known as a proof of concept or a feasibility analysis, ensures you’re creating a product people will pay for. Being an intact stage of product architecture design, product validation starts with defining the objective criteria for success and collecting user or expert feedback. The process involves gathering product requirements for both technical and financial aspects of the project development plan, including time, task scope, human resources, and costs.
Planning or ideation step plays a crucial part in the successful product development lifecycle as it determines the project roadmap with accurate business analysis for meeting business goals and timeframes. Effective planning helps allocate resources wisely and avoids typical stumbling blocks during a new product development process. Among the many tools for project planning, project managers choose the best fitting for the purpose.
Armed with user data gathered through research from previous product development steps, designers develop user personas representing your targeted audience. By stepping into the customer’s shoes and walking in them through multiple use scenarios, designers ensure that every effort in a product development process brings value.
After defining usability logic, they proceed to the most important step — prototyping. Prototyping is the visual modeling of a future product that includes everything from functionality, to software and hardware components, to the visual hierarchy and appearance. Using lo-fi wireframes and hi-fi interactive prototypes, you can define product functionality and user flow prior to development, thus reducing redesign risks in a later stage.
Before the actual coding starts, you need to break a product down into features followed by user stories and detailed technical specifications. Once product documentation is ready, you should prioritize and rank product features by difficulty. This will help identify the rough estimates for delivering an MVP ( minimum viable product).
From now on, the product development process is up to the software development engineers. They will set up the environment for data storage and build the business logic in addition to the interface. It’s important to keep focused on the core features instead of diving into endless technical improvements. You don’t need the most advanced product, you just need a product that resonates with your customer and improves customer experience.
When an app takes extra seconds to load or spits out nasty errors, users become annoyed and distracted or even think about switching to a competitor. The quality assurance team should perform a series of manual and automated tests to ensure the quality of code and user experience, including functional, load, compatibility, performance, and security testing.
It’s time to move the newly built and tested product to a production environment where end-users can see and try it out. The CI/CD product development methodology helps increase delivery speed and security throughout the bug fixes and fine-tune ups. At this stage, you’re free to improve or add new product features and upgrade performance according to the customer’s feedback.
Choosing the right product development methodology depends upon your organization’s structure, team size, business model, its goals, and other factors. Let’s take a look at the most widespread approaches to software development.
→ More about Software Product Development Methodologies: Pros and Cons
Waterfall is considered an old-school product development method that requires plenty of documentation upfront. The product development process steps usually follow this sequence:
While Waterfall can work for projects with clear and simple requirements, it lacks flexibility, as the next stage starts only when the previous one is finished, leaving no room for mistakes or changes.
As a client-centered approach to product development, FDD focuses on delivering the working software in two-week iterations. The feature-driven product development methodology contains five steps:
Although FDD displays an efficient response to change, its two-week rule creates limitations to developing more complex features.
Lean product development enables building products faster with less waste. It improves the traditional workflow by eliminating the communication pit-falls that divide teams and departments. Lean development follows five basic principles:
By adopting the Lean principles, product development companies can shorten development cycles and lower development costs.
The Agile product development methodology is free of rigid frameworks, enabling changes and updates at any development stage. Agile divides the whole process into short time slots (sprints), promising a quick response to the client’s feedback.
Putting client satisfaction first, Agile promotes in-team collaboration for the continuous delivery of new features and improvements.
→ Explore SAFE: Digital Transformation with speed and scale
The future of every company relies on keeping pace with the market. The development of a new product involves a huge portion of optimism but it takes a thorough preparation, meticulous analysis, established processes and oftentimes, especially today, within a shared digital economy – a trusted partner specifically operating in a certain business category. A correct view of the individual project goal and its skilled implementation gets a fair chance to get a jump on the competition or even set a new industry standard. A well-organized product development process accelerates the product quality and pipeline, whether in businesses like financial services and pharmaceuticals, or more dynamic ones like IT. At Avenga, we can shape the most effective product development methods to fit your business objectives. From building POCs and MVPs to end-to-end outsourced software product development services, we are dedicated to making sure we deliver tangible business value to our clients.