The Path to Success: 4 Ways to Maximize Your Product Development Process

So you’re ready to start developing a new product or service idea? That’s great, but how can you ensure that you actually will achieve the outcome you’re hoping for? Here are four key steps that will help guide you in developing a process that will maximize your chances for success.

1. First create diagrams

Before you get too deep into development, you want to start with some simple ways to reality-check the validity of your approach. Have your domain and technical experts start by presenting the design of your product or service. Solicit input in-house—and from potential customers, either directly or by analyzing their behavior. Models and diagrams are easy to present to different audiences—and the least expensive to change if you need to tweak or pivot.

2. The right product at the right time

Once you’ve confirmed the validity of your idea, it’s time to figure out how you will deliver and message it in today’s market. Positioning, packaging, and pitch are as important to success as quality. So while you’re busy developing your product or service, be sure to simultaneously have your sales and marketing team focusing on how to best sell your new product or service when the time comes.

Timing is important. How pertinent is your product in the current market? You must consider not just how quickly you can get your product to market, but also what the market is ready for. How would Twitter or LinkedIn have been received when people were just getting used to Geocities and Altavista?

Not all that long ago, I created a cloud-based model for Business Intelligence as a Service (BIaaS). I ran the fledged-out design by consultants at a leading IT analyst company and received the feedback that businesses were not ready for my model. Fast forward nine months and “cloud” was suddenly all everyone talked about in the industry.

In other words, while you shouldn’t waste your time if you can’t launch in time, you shouldn’t  scrap an idea whose time is yet to come. Just be sure to check whether the market is ready for your innovation before you release.

3. Plan with the release date in mind

Once you know when you need to launch by, you need to work backwards to construct a reasonable project management timeline. To do this, you must understand how all the cogs fit into your supply chain, regardless of whether that supply chain is physical or virtual. Is there enough wheat warehoused to make your flour? Do you have access to the backend servers you need—or can you spin them up in the cloud when you need them?

If your target delivery date is in August, then some of the milestones need to be reached in March—or even sooner.

Other important considerations for building a timeline include:

  • How many people do you need? Have they been hired? If not, how long will it take to bring them on board and train them?
  • Are there regulatory or compliance requirements you need to consider?
  • If you will require outside vendors for any part of the process, are they ready to commit to your needs and timeline?
  • Do you have funds to survive until the release date of your product?

4. Be obsessed with quality

A high-quality launch is one of the best ways to ensure success, whereas when you start with a poor product, you’ll be dead in the water. Pay attention to detail at every step of the process to be sure you offer your customers the best product or service you can. And be sure to thoroughly test out your offerings before going to market.

By taking the time to perfect your initial product, you may fear you won’t be first to market with a product or service. Relax—this is not as important as it may seem. In fact, while companies who are first on the market may grab significant market share, they may pave the way for market acceptance. It’s much better to become the Facebook of your industry than to be like Friendster or MySpace who led the way but then faltered. Your competitors may make it much easier for you to bring your product or service to market at just the right time.

Once you’ve created a product that’s good enough to launch, you are ready for the next steps: Developing a profitable pricing model, finding the right clients, and creating effective sales and marketing materials.

Guest blogger Lawrence I Lerner is a corporate entrepreneur with a keen eye for market relevance who envisions and builds digital products and services across the globe. An early interest in taking apart complex problems honed his multi-disciplined solution approach. He’s launched more than a dozen $10MM+ corporate products across industries (Retail, High-tech, Media and Entertainment, and IT services). With a passion for growth and transformation, his expertise is in Payment Solutions, Strategy, Enterprise Architecture, Big Data, Mobile/Social Media, IT security and Product Marketing. While successfully creating businesses on three continents, Lawrence served as a change leader as an executive and on public/private boards. He has created $100MM business lines and launched a new product/service for some of the world’s top brands (Motorola, Catalina Marketing, Macrovision, DHL, Debenhams). Over the past 20 years, he’s helped launch eight early stage companies.

Learn more about Lawrence I Lerner or follow him on twitter @RevInnovator.