Intermediate Product Development

Every year, over 30,000 products hit the market. However, according to Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School, 95% of these products will fail. Beating the odds doesn’t depend on luck. When you understand product development, you learn why so many products fail, and most importantly, how to create one of the 5% of products that succeed.

To recap, successful product development strategies involve non-linear steps that incorporate interaction from your whole team. They need frequent testing and tweaks and ample market research. Now that you know the basic steps, we’ll show you:

  • A breakdown of common product development frameworks
  • How product development strategy helps you avoid failure
  • What you need to build a successful product development team
  • And intelligent ways to set product development goals

Common Project Development Frameworks

If you work in software, you’ve likely heard of product development methods such as scrum or lean. These methods fall under the larger umbrella of agile product development frameworks. All of these methods embody the same principles, but they have different ways of acting on them. The differences in these frameworks let you choose a technique that amplifies your team’s strengths and makes efficient use of your resources.

Here, we will cover the basics of Kanban, Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Feature Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Crystal, and Lean.

Kanban

Kanban is a framework that visually breaks down projects into individual steps. To do this, teams use a chart divided into three columns called a kanban board. The columns, marked to-do, doing, and done, categorize the team’s tasks within the project. Kanban tends to be more fluid and less structured than other methods like scrum, which allows greater flexibility for projects where the requirements frequently change.

Scrum

Scrum follows a similar method to Kanban, relying on a visual form of tracking tasks. It also uses a grid broken into columns and groups to show the team’s progress. However, one main difference between kanban and scrum is that scrum only focuses on one piece of the project at a time, referred to as a “sprint.” These sprints channel more focus into each part of a task and grant teams more control over their requirements and deadlines.

In addition, scrum teams include two unique roles. These roles are the scrum master, who directs the team’s overall efforts, and a product owner, who maximizes the team’s potential. These two rules help guide scrum teams through each sprint to the eventual completion of the project.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming is a close relative to scrum but includes extra features that help software companies produce higher quality software with more considerations for the wellbeing of their development team. XP uses intervals and sprints like scrum, as well as visual breakdowns found in kanban.

A unique feature of XP is its 12 processes that are specific to software development teams, which make it uniquely advantageous to tech teams. These  processes, according to the Agile Alliance, are:

  • The Planning Game
  • Small Releases
  • Metaphor
  • Simple Design
  • Testing
  • Refactoring
  • Pair Programming
  • Collective Ownership
  • Continuous Integration
  • 40-hour week
  • On-site Customer
  • Coding Standard

Feature Driven Development (FDD)

Feature-driven development is another framework specifically made for software design. Every two weeks, the team creates a software model and a plan to develop the features. When you compare FDD with extreme programming, the main difference is FDD’s unique ability to accommodate larger teams and more complex features.

In contrast to extreme programming, FDD breaks down its processing into five groups. First, the team develops the overall idea of the project. After this is done, they outline a feature list. When that’s finished, the team breaks the required features into actionable steps. The team then designs the component and finally builds them.

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

DSDM is a software development framework that focuses mainly on speed. It shares many similarities with other agile frameworks for software teams but allows for even more frequent reworks. The idea behind this is that reversible steps make it easier to align the project with a later goal than a rigid, complex framework.

Ideally, a flexible team will have a higher probability of success than one that rigidly sticks to its structure. Its principles, according to AgileKRC, are to:

  • Focus on the business need
  • Deliver on time
  • Collaborate
  • Never compromise quality
  • Build incrementally from firm foundations
  • Develop iteratively
  • Communicate continuously and clearly
  • And demonstrate control

Crystal

Crystal isn’t one framework so much as a grouping of similar approaches. Crystal frameworks include options such as Crystal Clear, Yellow, Orange, Orange Web. These let teams select a framework that matches their level of urgency, type of project, and team size. Some of the methods, such as Sapphire and Diamond, include delicate steps that suit projects involving safety risks and sensitive information.

Lean

Lean is one of the most commonly used project management frameworks. It channels the focus on communicating with all team members throughout the design process and standardizing steps to repeat successful outcomes. Lean takes extra steps to eliminate waste and keep efforts focused on the end goal. Additionally, it considers human nature, so it becomes a benefit to the process rather than a hindrance or afterthought.

Avoiding Failures with Agile Product Development

If the teams that launched over 28,500 failed products a year knew how to avoid those failures, we can assume they would. This is why it’s essential to understand why your team is creating a product in the first place and who it serves. Ultimately, the goal of any product development project is to provide value to the customer. Most failures can be avoided by learning what your customers are looking for before investing efforts in the development

This is not to say that your team can avoid every possible failure during the development process. However, agile product development methods make it easier to learn from these mistakes and avoid them in the future. If something works, repeating it can save time. If it doesn’t, knowing what led you there will prevent further complications. Good documentation and well-tested project processes reduce the effort needed to create a functional, successful product.

With suitable documentation and reliable leadership, you empower your team to take on new projects and reach for consistently greater heights. Resilient teams persist despite their failures, and these teams are those that succeed over and over again. Instead of focusing on what was done right or wrong, focus on learning every step of the way.

What are the Components of an Agile Product Development Team?

Agile teams work because they think and operate differently. This means that each person on your team will possess traits that help them thrive within this framework. Your group can provide its members with training and resources that encourage them to develop these skills.

Here is are the components your team will need for successful product development:

  • Collaborative Planning: Instead of using a handoff type of system, lean and agile product design teams work together at nearly every stage of the process. This prevents miscommunications and encourages frequent feedback. If your team already embodies this in their projects, they will adapt quickly to an agile or lean framework.
  • Self-Motivated Style: Top-performing teams are comprised of people that prioritize their time well and work independently. Managers on these teams encourage others to develop their skills while trusting them to get the job done. Micromanaging is not compatible with this kind of dynamic, so if your team has already mastered self-motivation, each following step will be even smoother.
  • Learner’s Mindset: While prior knowledge of a subject is always helpful, the most important thing is that your team continues learning. Nobody will know everything right off the bat, but when people know where to find the knowledge they need, they will overcome challenges faster with better results.
  • Well-Documented Procedures: Well-developed processes will help you repeat your success and avoid future failures. Your team only has to learn a lesson once, and their experience can provide them insight on where to improve. If your team has a track record of keeping reliable logs of their efforts, implementing an agile framework is even easier. Make sure to use flow charts, physical diagrams, clear language that accurately describes the purpose in the process of each step, and detailed explanations of the requirements.

Special Considerations for Targeted Guidance

Your team may not inherently have the expertise to succeed on its first try. This is where you can bring in outside help to guide your team through the development process. A full-time option is not always necessary, especially when the goal is to teach your team how to handle the task independently the next time around. In these cases, a fractional Chief Operating Officer or fractional Chief Marketing Officer provides expert-level guidance to accomplish your goals.

A fractional COO with experience in your chosen framework has participated in many projects like your own. They bring the unique perspective of someone who has witnessed many companies’ successes and failures, translating into expert wisdom for your team. A fractional COO brings together the different members of your team to keep them focused on the end goal of your project.

A fractional CMO, like a fractional COO, also has experience working with multiple different teams. However, they also can involve your marketing and sales team and show them how they can position your product for success during the sales stages. Even the best products have faced difficulties because of a disconnect with their own sales and marketing teams. Overall, the right staff and goals will set you up for a smoother product development process.

What Do You Need to Set Realistic Goals?

When you’re ready to start your goal planning, you will have to break down and organize your goals no matter which method you choose. The most effective way to do this is by each step’s priority level and timeline. These six categories give you a solid working framework.

Priority Levels

Needed – Needed features are the basic requirements your product needs to solve the problem at hand. These goals are non-negotiable and form the foundation of your product’s functionality.

Wanted – Wanted features are what help your product stand out. Users will not choose the bare minimum when there’s another better option. Overall, this category affects how well your product will perform in the market.

Wished – Whished features are what make a good idea into an excellent product. This is where your product can shine. If you focus on at least one area where your product performs exceptionally well, your can lock down a unique selling point that increases its likelihood for outstanding sales. High-quality features make it easier for your marketing and sales teams to sell your product.

Timelines

Short – Short-term goals are goals that span from a few days to weeks. These should be somewhat rigid in their timelines and requirements, especially with needed and wanted tasks. This section can be more flexible with wished goals than the previous two but should still keep a tight timeline.

Medium – Medium-term goals can happen over a few weeks to a few months. Because of the additional allotted time, they have slightly more flexibility than short-term goals. However, as mentioned before, the higher the goal’s priority, the more rigidly your team should stick to their plan.Long – Long-term goals have the most overall flexibility. They can change to suit what you find in the earlier parts of your product development. As these get closer, their level of detail and priority level can change if you find a new way to do what you set out to achieve.

Closing Notes

A carefully chosen product development framework backed by a well-equipped team can help your business create one of the 5% of products that succeed every year. Now, you understand the most common product development methodologies, how a good strategy prevents failure, the elements of a functional product development team, and how to set your team’s goals.

Remember that product development is a constant learning process. As long as you set out to improve wherever possible, even your challenges will bear the fruit of future success. For extra tips on improving your product development strategy, see how a strategy consultant can help.

link to basics article

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