· 5 min read ·
What is Product Development
It’s great to see a product being used and appreciated by users. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what goes on in taking an idea or product feedback and making it a part of the product. You might have a great idea but if you don’t have the right team and processes to deliver it then you will not succeed. In this blog we will learn about product development.
Product Development is the collaborative process of taking an idea from conception to reality. It encompasses a wide range of activities across a lot of different teams. Product Development doesn’t always mean working on cool new features. Besides new products it includes new features, improvements to existing features and bug fixes.
A common misconception is thinking that product development is engineering or product management. It’s neither of the two. Both engineering and product management plays a major role in product development. But neither of them owns the complete product development process. It’s a collaborative effort where a lot of different teams play specific roles.
Let’s look at each team’s role
The Engineering team works towards converting the product requirements into working software. It goes through various rounds of testing being made available to customers.
The Design team defines the interaction that the user will have with the product. Their focus is to create seamless interactions for the users as they navigate through the product.
They are responsible for defining “What” needs to be built, “Why” it needs to be built and “When” it needs to be built. They work closely with users and all the stakeholders to build the Product Roadmap
The sales team works directly with users. Leads/Prospects help them identify the gaps that exist in the product. Existing customers provide feedback on how users would like the product to evolve in the future.
The marketing team is responsible for the top of the funnel activities. They focus on generating demand for the product by communicating the unique value proposition of the product to them.
They play a critical role in B2B product development. They provide the training and ongoing support to new customers during onboarding. In addition they manage the customer communities that are designed to foster knowledge and collaboration among users.
They act as the bridge between customers and the product and engineering teams. Issues arising with the product are raised to the support team. They try to troubleshoot the issues and escalate if needed to the product and developmen team.
To be honest everyone in your organization plays a role in product development. The size of their contribution may vary and might be either direct or indirect. For example when we talk about product development we don’t really think about the finance team, do we? But it does play an important role. Let’s look at how:
So your product development isn’t really possible unless you have the right headcount. And that’s not possible unless you have the right budget. And the finance team plays an important role in that.
Product Development is not just writing code. You will often hear the terms product development, engineering or coding used interchangeably . That’s a very myopic view of a very broad process. Let’s look at the different activities that come under the umbrella of Product Development:
Before you start building out the product you need to find if there is a market for what you are trying to do. Learning about the industry and analyzing data helps you understand how big the market is for your product.
Doing a deep dive to see what exists today is an important step in product development. Knowing the leaders, innovators, challengers and niche players in the market helps you figure where to position your product. It also helps you figure out the key differentiators for your product.
You do not want to build your product in a silo. Regular feedback from users, prospects and customers helps you avoid getting into that trap. It also leads to happy customers in the end. Some helpful blogs on feedback:
You can’t really “DO” product development if you don’t have a set of clear requirements. Product Managers are responsible for creating user stories with clearly spec’d out requirements. It specifies what is expected from a user’s perspective and a clear understanding of what “DONE” means.
Building the Product
The engineering team works to make incremental updates to the product. Scrum and Kanban are the two major frameworks that are used by companies to organize their work. You can check out the resources below to learn on how to use them.
Testing the Product
The product that is developed needs to undergo various types of testing. Depending on your company the product will undergo some or all of the following:
Launching the Product
A product launch is accompanied with a number of marketing activities. They help in getting the attention of users and nudge them to try out the product. It enables you to get early feedback on the market response for the product. That drives the future product roadmap for the product
Working on Improvements
Product Development is a continuous and iterative process. You have to keep working to improve the customer experience. The product roadmap defines how much time you will be spending in each area of your product.
The product manager plays an important role in making sure that the right things are being developed. They spend a lot of time talking to customers, getting feedback and measuring its potential impact. It gives them a 360 degree view on which projects are competing for the development team’s resources. They prioritize work based on impact to customers, size of the opportunity and fit. There are a number of frameworks that product managers use for prioritization. Check them out below:
You can build the product alone. It might take you longer. And you might be ok with that. But you will most certainly build a better product when working together in a team. Atleast that’s what my experience has been. It does create its own set of challenges. Not everyone will always be on the same page. Co-ordinating across team will often push you to your limits. But the pros far outweigh some of the challenges you might face along the way.