How to win at product development and not waste your money

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You have a great idea, plan, and strategy for a new product. Or maybe you’d like to add some features to an existing one? It’s time to make the sketches come true, and you feel it’s time to hire a software house? Make sure you follow these rules not to backfire before you start.

1. Make sure you and your partner software house speak the same language

Before you make a final decision – choose a few potential partners, set up 1:1 meetings, and discuss your product or problem for a while. You won’t find the final solution during a 10 minutes call, but you can determine two factors crucial for your future cooperation:
Check if your partners do understand the language you speak. Move the conversation toward the market and problem, rather than the product specification itself. Finding common ground during this conversation ensures that you will avoid communication level misunderstandings during the planning and development process. Pay attention if the potential partner is really interested in the project if they ask questions and follow your thought process.

Determine their command of business phrases, and you will get an overview of the partner company’s market understanding – avoid cooperation with those who blink at ROI or KPI’s. This point assures that you are going to build the right product in the right way.

Important notice: Don’t expect a web development company to understand all the aspects of your niche and market characteristics immediately. Keep your eye on their understanding of general business values and processes, not the specific terminology of your product. Feel free to talk about more universal topics such as process efficiency, current dilemmas, KPI’s or sale goals.

 

2. Show extended view of your product

Make sure your partner understands the market, organization values, customers’ needs, and business goals of your project. As mentioned before, this is your first significant step to establish a symbiotic relationship and design the right product in the right way. In this phase, your job is to provide as much information as possible, try to draw a complex and detailed picture of the whole project. Don’t hesitate to dedicate one or (if necessary) two meetings to make sure both sides understand each other perfectly.

How we do this:
In Inwedo, the development process is usually preceded by two meetings. These contacts are dedicated to the introduction of the clients’ company, customers, the project itself, etc. At this stage, we mostly ask questions and trying to immerse ourselves in the Clients’ situation. It gives us a general overview and the base to design a second phase agenda. The gained information is essential to fully understand the partner and make sure that the product we build will be useful for final users.

You can design your own formula of introduction. Just don’t sell this phase short, think about it the same way as new employee onboarding process. Proper introduction investment pays back with plenty of profits. Just to name a few: more natural communication, improved work efficiency, reduced risk of building useless products.
It is hard to evaluate these benefits highly enough, right?

Apply it now:
Check our product agenda to create the right product in the efficient way.

 

3. Discuss problems and solutions, then move to technology.

We are not trying to underestimate the importance of programming languages, servers, and frameworks. In the end – technology is what we breathe with. However, in order to make sure your technology partner will build what you intend to achieve, we have to discuss business first. Then translate it to technology. If you want the product to hit your targets, during this phase, you and your partner should focus on a solution rather than the code itself.

At this stage (let’s call it pre-development) – it’s a mutual job of you and technology partner to translate the business needs into functionalities of a future product. And in this case, the mutual is a keyword. Desirably this phase should have a formula of workshops or discussion panels rather than one side lecture. After the properly done introduction, you have a lot of space for discussions about final customer problems, KPIs, functionalities, etc. And at this point, you are just one step to start the development phase without delays, misunderstandings, and unnecessary features.

How we do this
Discovery Workshops – because of its complexity, we differentiate it as a separate service. During this session, we cover all the most important aspects of a particular project. We work hand in hand with the client to dig into the core problem and end up with a business and product solution draft.

The workshops’ output includes:
– complete user personas
– defined user journey and user stories
– set business goals and success criteria
– detailed product specification
– product roadmap with a specified timeline
– first UX wireframes and mockups
– project estimation

It’s a solid groundwork for the further development phase. With this set in hand, you can kickoff the development process the very next day. Starting from the right point and moving towards the essential functionalities to deliver real business value from the first iteration. Not enough? You will save tons of money, as every hour of development is used in the most efficient way.

The bonus profit: Assuming that you followed our introduction tips, and the company you are working with thinks business, now you are on the best way to benefit from their market experience. Remember that software development companies hire a number of Accounts Managers, Strategists, Product Owners, etc. Feel free to gain from their experience and knowledge, as you are the partners now. The fresh perspective is always invaluable, and the output can be a significant improvement to the overall result. If you want to find some examples of beyond the code collaborations, check our success stories.
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Communication takeaway:

Instead:
“We need to add “Add to favorites” button to our shop functionality.”

Try with:
“We have decreasing user engagement rate, how can we solve it?”
“We have an enormous number of clients browsing product pages, but users don’t add products to cart and tend to forget about it.”

Last notes:

The process of creating a new product in cooperation with an external company may seem to be quite risky and challenging. That’s why it is important to ground the cooperation on the solid foundation of mutual understanding. In fact – it lets us create a partnership relationship rather than a body lease model.
We not going to lie – the first days are time-consuming, but the return on investment is high. As the job is done once – will pay off for years. From our own experience – software house often becomes a technological partner, and the parties maintain good relations for years after the single project release.
The good news is that you can significantly decrease risk and save yourself tons of headache by keeping our advice in mind.

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