The global pandemic has completely disrupted how consumers interact with products. Their needs are changing, buying channels are shifting, and products that were once winners are now losing relevance in consumers’ minds.
Now, more than ever, product managers and innovators need to understand changing market attitudes, needs, and behaviour, so they can drive smart product experience strategies and tactics in the near and medium term.
To develop compelling products, you must go beyond simply collecting customer feedback. Product leaders, researchers, and marketers must become product experience experts, providing actionable, predictive recommendations that continually improve product experience and measurably impact the business.
Things to Consider Before Starting with Product Development:
- Putting humans at the centre of the strategy: If the idea does not meet a real human need, chances are is not such a good business after all.
- Building processes and setting milestones: Make sure you have at least a basic process in place and people agreeing to that.
- Being cruel with products: Ask as many people as possible to look at it and give feedback. Make use of diversity, ask technical people as well as uneducated ones, different ages, and walks of life. Ask the ones you think have no clue.
- Running a lot of home testing: Performing this activity helps an awful lot to cut corners during developing time. Additionally, it minimizes the risk of disappointing your clients and having to contact you to return their goods or services.
- Identifying bottlenecks and acting on them: Identify the ones that unlock most of the problems in a domino effect. Basically, go to the root of the problem and by fixing that, you fix many more.
- Analysing cost drivers: Keep track of the monetary aspect of your activities and try to find ways to keep cost reasonable.
- Risk analysis: Think of what could potentially endanger the success of your development. Ask yourself how probable the risk is and how much it would affect the whole product development process.
- The competitive advantage: Whether you are the only one selling that product or you are able to offer extra features through partnerships, it’s always good.
The Step-by-Step Product Development Process
For obvious reasons it is near impossible to guide anyone through all the steps involved in successful product development. The main reason is that every product and company can have very different steps.
First and foremost, the overall rule we suggest to keep in mind is to always put your customer needs and experience at the centre – online or physically.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important steps which apply to most products:
After the initial idea is laid down you will have to get designers on board. When briefing your designers, make sure you make your idea very visual using some draws or pictures.
Whether it is to highlight the lifestyle of the customers or simply the feeling the product should reflect, give them something practical to start with. Of course, make sure you are very clear about the customer needs.
A smart way to avoid miscommunication is to add a mood board with everything you want to take a distance from.
A very important step in the product development process is competitor analysis. Get all the information you can about features, prices, target audiences, etc.
And of course, make sure you continuously monitor them. Use a tool to help you keep track of it.
Cost vs Price
By now you have your cost drivers and, through the competitors ́analysis, an idea of the final price. This will help you build different scenarios based on whether or not you can knock down those cost drivers.
Once you have different scenarios, obviously, go for one and decide how long to stick to it. You need to take a decision, there.
Remember, in business particularly, even a non-decision is a decision and you can’t avoid consequences.
Budgeting requires a roadmap and vice versa, they are interconnected.
You can embark on a journey without having the financial resources to get to the end. However, if that’s the case, make sure that by the time you run out of money runs you achieved a big milestone. This way it will be simpler to proceed and gain more financial support as you proved that you can meet deadlines and reach targets.
You may need investors. A good tip is to take a step back and try and have as many letters of intent signed by future clients as possible.
A projection of a stream of income is better than nothing and it is a powerful tool to have people investing in your idea.
This is a world of its own and absolutely core to the success of any development. It helps to have a technical background to deal with professionals in this sector but, generally speaking, these are my main words of advice.
First of all, you might encounter some “resistance”. What helps in these cases is to listen to the naysayers as they usually are pointing at something relevant. They may just not have the flair to say it in a socially competent way.
Don’t get intimidated if they are more knowledgeable than you, that’s precisely their job to know more than you. Your job is to keep everything else together and drive forward.
Whether they supply services or materials, work hard to have a big base of them so you are not cornered by a single one on prices or time of delivery. Check that rules and regulations as well as a fair treatment is in place, no one needs to be told along the line that your products cost lives.
Be aware that sometimes it is better to produce locally at a higher price than far away without control over the operations. Ideally, partner with businesses that share the same values and when negotiating always put yourself in their shoes and think win-win solutions.
Don’t try to rip anyone off, that doesn’t bring long term growth.
Forecast vs Prices
Build solid relationships with a number of suppliers so you can make your calculations accordingly. One reason more to have a real relationship with them based on transparency and aiming at common growth.
This is possibly the most overlooked and underestimated tool for a good development process, but it directly affects results
Internal communication is a mix of right forums, tools, and processes. The availability and visibility of appropriate forums – e.g. for complaints, common information, troubleshooting – helps to avoid repetition and increase efficiency.
Clarity on what certain tools are there for – emails, signs, boards, meetings, digital platforms – helps with a smooth flow of communications and reduces friction.
Knowing that there are some processes in place brings people together.
Your co-workers and partners have the need and right to know what is going on to keep focused and motivated. In addition, they will become the natural ambassadors of the future product by being recognized as the most important people and the first to be in the know.
Last but not least, a solid internal communication system is the key to efficiency. Many studies show that one can dramatically increase sales simply by implementing a strong internal communication plan and routines.
Launching new products requires a different plan of action than the replacement of a previous line. An app requires different media than a handcrafted marble table.
The main reflection is that, compared to only 10 years ago, nowadays one needs to be digital, immediately. You can’t wait to have a finished product to communicate it, you need to create your narrative from the beginning, so that is traceable too.
Then, do not improvise. Have a SWOT professionally-led on the product and make sure everyone is on board on what strengths and opportunities you want to communicate. Poor content equals poor results, it doesn’t matter how many micro-influencers you pay to spread it.
Also, remember that humans are animals after all and behave accordingly to seasonality. Get acquainted when it is the best time of the year to launch something to sleep or something outdoors. Christmas/Winter festivities and summer holidays are special periods too.
Another tip, have a refresh on all media at the same time when you communicate something new and make sure the content is coherent all over. Simple, you may say, but to consistently implement the basics is not so simple after all.
Last, of course always put the customer needs and experience at the centre. You may be saying that your company is very reliable, but is much better to show testimonials. You may want to say your product is the result of years and years of research, but what’s in there for the customer? What is the benefit for me to buy it? How much better my life would be if I buy your product? That’s what I want to hear or read from you as a potential client.
Successful product development is not for the fainthearted but it is possible. If you are working with innovation, the prize is to be able to touch many people’s lives and make a difference, even a little one.
If you embrace product development to improve what you have already on offer, you are on the right path. We at AppleTech are adept at developing robust, scalable and secure software products. Reach out to us and see your concept turn into reality.