It’s probably reassuring to know that almost every company has similar pain points when developing a new product. Yet, a new digital product seems to come out every few minutes. Ones that are better, flashier, shinier, with more bells and whistles, and that adds to the pressure of getting your product launched as soon as possible. However, faster is often a surefire way to ensure your product has more problems, but that doesn’t mean the pressure on you is any less.
According to a study from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and Gainsight, 81% of those interviewed agree that positive digital product experience impacts business growth, and 76% consider delivering an effective digital product experience an “extremely high” or “high” priority.
How can you master end-to-end product development to ensure your product stays on track and within budget while meeting stakeholder and customer demands?
Common Pain Points in Product Development
No matter where you are in the product development process, obstacles are bound to arise, because that is the nature of business. However, most companies don’t want to extend launch dates. A missed milestone can lead to a domino effect of pushed projects, extended timelines, and out-of-control budgets across the company. It can also create strife between internal teams and eventually lead to dissatisfied customers if a product is delayed or not as promised.
Issues inside the development process are not isolated to the size of a company. Enterprises face more challenges, with teams being pulled in different directions. In contrast, small businesses need more internal skills to execute their vision correctly. And all companies face similar challenges unique to product development that can throw a major wrench into your planning.
Common product development problems that put your product at risk:
- Overworked Staff: Lack of people or proper resources can cause your team to feel burdened, which makes them more likely to make mistakes.
- Lack of the Right Data: Quality data, informative research, comprehensive user testing, and proper analysis are vital for insight into product viability and practicality.
- Decision Fatigue: As a product moves through cycles and countless decisions, our ability to make decisions can dwindle, often causing critical decisions in later stages to become less strategic.
- Scope Creep: Everyone wants your product to be the best and demands stakeholders often expand features and functions beyond the original design resulting in higher costs and increased timelines.
- Inaccurate forecasting: It’s crucial you correctly forecast your milestones and release date in your roadmap; shifting dates can derail other departments (i.e., sales and marketing) and make leadership wary.
- Disorganized Product Management: Proper management of your product lessens chaotic workflow, costly mistakes, and missed deadlines.
Four Areas that can Elevate your Product Development Plans
While your digital products can be inventive, innovative, and inspiring, developing a product has precise guidelines to follow if you want to launch on time and within budget. All stages of product development are essential, but inside each cycle is an area that, if handled the right way, can help move your product along with fewer road bumps.
One : In-Depth Research
Your research is the foundation for your product roadmap and your product. You need quality data to inform your decisions. Without insight into critical information, like customer data and market research, it isn’t easy to move forward strategically or accurately. A good idea can turn mediocre if it doesn’t meet your customer base’s needs and wants.
Research starts in ideation with market research and validation and continues throughout the development lifecycles with customer analysis and user testing. It holds the keys to how to make your product a hit or miss. Having the correct information strengthens your roadmap and allows you to execute confidently.
Two : Strategic Product Roadmap
When you have an exciting idea, that can often outweigh the reality of putting that idea into motion. In order to create a product that works, you need it to illustrate your strategic vision to your stakeholders accurately. It is also the blueprint that includes the important business milestones and tactics over the development life (not to be confused with the backlog — the more detailed project plan.)
Your roadmap is just that, the map showing your product’s how, what, and why from inception to ideation to implementation. It gives your team and stakeholders the most pertinent information, allowing them to see your product’s value for end users and the business impact. Learn more about creating a strategic product roadmap.
Three : Skilled Product Management
Sometimes, the importance of expert product management is overlooked, but it is critical to the creation, execution, delivery, monitoring, and refining of your products. Managing your product isn’t just a matter of keeping things on track — it’s vital for the health of your product and company.
A report from the 280 Group found that a fully optimized product manager could increase company profits by 34.2%. In that same report, they found that 21% (1 out of 5 products ) fail to meet the customer needs, which makes an experienced product manager even more important. Alarmingly, 56% of report respondents stated their product manager’s skills as average or below average, stating that there is room for improvement. The right product manager really is a lynchpin to success.
Four : Experienced Team
Augmenting your team by working with an outside product development team can mitigate a lot of problems. Specialized product development teams can ensure products meet your stakeholder and customer expectation and keep critical components moving.
- Expertise: Internal teams are often spread thin, and their skills might not match the knowledge needed for detailed product development. Bringing in external know-how can lessen the burden and improve the outcomes.
- Information Gathering: There are copious amounts of data in the world, but quality data isn’t always easy to come by or decipher. Understanding the data you have and analyzing it and correctly analyzing it is indispensable for your product.
- Decision Making: Internal decisions can sometimes become more demanding due to politics and competing stakeholder interests. External teams can bridge the decision gap by offering opinions and knowledge that are based on what is best for your product and customer — versus personal opinions.
- Scope: Similar to decision making, an outside team can help keep your teams and stakeholders eye on the prize with professional input based on years of experience.
- Strategic Roadmap: There is no doubt that your roadmap is the foundation of your product. And as valuable as they are, they are not something you can just whip together. Companies that provide outsourced product development have often made numerous roadmaps for varying industries, allowing them to easily slide into your team and support your vision by helping to create the right roadmap for your product.
- Product Management: As seen in call-out three product management, having an experienced product manager ensures your product moves seamlessly through each cycle. Outsourcing a team that includes an accomplished product manager can make or break success.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your product development process — bringing in expertise will only enhance your product. If you are currently looking to plan, execute, or launch a digital product and need to hire a skilled team to help you build strategic product roadmaps or guide you in other product development services, reach out to our team to learn more about how Trackmind can help.