Make Your Product Development Process Less Painful / by Matthew Cordasco

A great product development process is at the core of creating new, interesting and successful products. So, why is product development often such a painful process, rife with mistakes, product failures and other headaches?

Usually, it comes down to two key factors: lack of preparation and poor analysis. Luckily, it’s possible to make improvements to these processes that don’t require you or your team to invest a significant amount of time or effort into.

Implementing the three tips shared below are often very simple to do but provide big ROI when it comes to improving and fine-tuning your product development process.

1. Create a workflow—and stick to it!

What is a workflow? A workflow is a clear series of processes that leads to the completion of tasks. Oftentimes, leading a task to completion isn’t a straightforward A to B process. More likely than not, tasks have many layers that require the specific attention of several or more members of your team. The benefit to having a workflow is that these tasks—and the overall journey to completion—can be visualized and broken down easily.

While a workflow may not account for unforeseen circumstances or extra steps needed that are only realized at certain steps, it is a roadmap that ultimately leads to the completion of tasks. Problems will inevitably arise during your product development process—the key is to always adapt, push forward, and keep your eye on the map.

2. Always assess your new ideas—and don’t be afraid to let go of them.

The development process requires your team members to often consider new, innovative and creative ideas to realize into products. Along the way, however, ideas will come up that don’t necessarily meet the goals of the company or do not have a good product market fit. Unfortunately, many of these “lemons” make it through the product development process anyway and end up as product failures.

How can this be avoided?

As a project leader, don’t be afraid to question and interrogate every new idea that is coming through the product development pipeline. Consider if the idea, once developed, will meet your company’s revenue targets. Or if it appeals to your customer base. Or if there’s a significant enough market for it. If you have any doubts, don’t be afraid to scrap the idea and take on a new one.

3. Don’t settle for “finished”

When a member of your team says a certain task is “finished”, what does that actually mean? To quote Sami Linnanvuo’s post on Mind the Product:

“Definition of Done, or DoD, is the acceptance criteria that ensures that the tasks, once completed, are truly done, not only in terms of functionality but in terms of quality as well. Definition of Done is stated as a set of rules like:

Feature is implemented

Unit tests are passing

Documentation is up-to-date

Feature is reviewed by QA

Code is in master branch

Code is deployed to production”

The point of having a good DoD is that it compels you and your team to articulate the specific value you’re bringing to the process itself. It also acts as a way for each team member to consider what they have achieved, what they’re working on right now, and the next step forward.

Improving your product development process saves you time, money and energy. Don’t let that investment go to waste—before releasing a product to market, test it with MyCrowd QA.