Whether you’re developing an outward-facing product for consumers or an internal project for your employees, you undoubtedly know it’s a risky endeavor. The product development process is fraught with endless challenges, opportunities for failure and downright uncertainty.
But with the proper processes in place, these risks can be mitigated tremendously. In fact, we’d say many of the risks associated with product development are actually mistakes — ones that could have been prevented.
Some of the ones we see most often are:
- Using the wrong processes, resulting in major delays and increased costs
- Not understanding the requirements of the product and what users need from it
- Not giving enough attention to the product’s design
- Focusing too much on a single aspect of the product at the expense of other goals
In other instances, teams can be consumed with certain details and lose sight of the bigger objective. Or they may not have all the information they need about their customers or their target market to meet business objectives.
And while these are undoubtedly difficult challenges to overcome, even for the most seasoned product developers, the right strategies, processes and teams can address these challenges without turning them into mistakes.
1. The Risk of Major Delays and Increased Costs
Reigning in complicated projects is a struggle. Oftentimes, it can seem like the people managing the project never have enough time or resources to get the job done. And while they’re pushing these resources threadbare, the stakeholders are expecting more deliverables on tighter schedules. So, these managers push the projects even more.
Unfortunately, when this happens, the project suffers. A strategy that works for manufacturing or factory work simply doesn’t apply to more complicated product development efforts, especially when they involve producing complicated software products.
In manufacturing, most tasks are repetitive and fairly predictable. Software product development, on the other hand, is far more complicated. Many of these tasks are unique, and they don’t scale linearly. Furthermore, the project’s requirements change throughout the life of the project, so task output is never 100% predictable from one week to the next.
Appreciating these differences is critical. Doing so allows a change in processes that helps alleviate these challenges and makes product development move more smoothly and predictably.
A Fine-Tuned, Agile Development Process
Reducing the risks of delay and increased costs in product development means approaching the problem with an entirely different strategy. You need a process that accounts for the unpredictable nature of software — one that provides an iterative process of measuring and testing results and then scaling accordingly to align with business objectives.
At Net Solutions, our software development methodology provides the exact framework needed for software product development. Our process looks like this:
- 1. We understand the problem and business objectives by defining the product and empathizing with the target audience and users.
- 2. We explore options through ideation and prototyping of real-world solutions.
- 3. We materialize real solutions to real problems and test them with users.
We do this by employing a battle-hardened Agile development approach. This is an iterative approach to product development that helps deliver high-quality products more quickly and with fewer roadblocks. Real, working and fully testable products are delivered regularly rather than relying on one huge release.
In other words, we turn the unpredictability of product development into data that makes your product better, all while negating project delays and lowering costs.
2. The Risk of Ending Up with a Bad Product Design
The risks of bad design in product development are real. It can result in bad reviews, a loss of loyal customers and — of course — serious damage to the bottom line. A poorly designed product can mean the difference between unqualified success and absolute failure.
If you’ve ever downloaded an app that promised to solve a problem only to find that learning to use the thing was a bigger problem than the one it solved, you’ve been a victim of bad design. And this isn’t an isolated incident. In 2019, a whopping 25% of mobile apps were used only once. With the risk that one in four people could abandon your app after opening it just once, product development seems like a scary proposition.
But good design isn’t magic. It’s also not a secret. According to a report from the Design Management Institute, design-focused companies outperform other companies by 219% over a 10-year period.
Infuse Your Product with Design Thinking
At its core, design thinking is about understanding and empathizing with your target audience. By taking a deep dive into the needs, challenges and concerns of your customers, you can begin to understand how to mold and develop your project to best solve these problems.
At Net Solutions, we’re big on design thinking. We believe in creating products that delight, engage and guide a user toward their goals. Our strategies leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring every customer touch point aligns with your business’s vision and objective.
Using a mix of investigative and co-creative methods, we dive deep into customer desires, habits, needs and challenges. We strive to fully understand what your users are doing, how they’re using the product and how that product can perform better in their hands. With our approach, we take the mystery out of experience and digital design and infuse it into your product to deliver results.
3. The Risk of Not Meeting User Needs
While the design is undoubtedly a big part of any successful product development project, it’s simply decoration if it doesn’t meet the needs of your customers. And this is one of the biggest risks in product development. All too often, good products fail because users just don’t find them very useful. Even with thorough design thinking and a beautiful user experience, it’s not going to get off the ground if an app or website solves a problem no one cares about.
To alleviate this risk, businesses need to focus on outcomes and understanding and addressing a problem first is the right strategy. This should happen long before you set out to engineer solutions and design features. And the best way to do this is by talking to your customers.
Understand Your Customers First and Then Build Great Products
If you aren’t having conversations with your customers about their experiences and struggles, how do you know what problem you’re attempting to solve? While your customers may not be able to tell you exactly how to solve their problems — that’s where you come in — they can certainly tell you what those problems are.
Too many organizations seem to forget that having routine conversations with the people they serve can provide them with all the information they need to develop a great product.
At Net Solutions, we start with the customer in mind, and we keep them there through the entire process. Our initial process starts with an informative and interactive ideation workshop where we take a deep dive into what your customers need, the challenges of your business and the technology used. By applying design thinking, we strive to understand what the problem is from the customer’s perspective so we can help design and build a solution that matters to them.
With this knowledge in hand, we conceptualize and design with the user still firmly in mind. And through extensive user testing throughout the entire process, we ensure your digital product helps your customers solve their problems while meeting your business objectives.
Paving the Way to Great Product Development with Net Solutions
At Net Solutions, we’re passionate about using technology, design thinking and strategic processes to help companies build the best possible products. For us, it’s all about helping your customer achieve their goals by using a great product that aligns with your business objectives.
From developing and deploying a scalable solution to designing and strategizing a digital transformation, we deliver full-service product development covering the entire life cycle for any size business. Whether you’re a well-established organization looking to launch a new product or a growing start-up wanting to polish your new venture, our team delivers the solutions you need to help ensure your product development is successful. Get in touch today to find out more.
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