Something my business partner and I always talk about is the importance of doing research and investing in creating and refining a strategy throughout the lifecycle of a software development project.
It’s a famous quote that “failure to plan is planning for failure”, yet unfortunately we come across too many cases of individuals and businesses going into a software project without proper planning and research, or they create an original strategy in the discovery stage but never refine it after that, and therefore ultimately fail.
A recent experience with a client gave me another example of this.
A client reached out with an idea for a software product addressing a specific issue in their industry. They wanted us to build a development team and manage the development and launch of their product.
At the initial meeting they provided us with a full outline of the software product they wanted to create.They had even gone as far as investing in creating wireframes and other requirement resources for our review.
But it became evident to us very quickly that while they had done a considerable amount of requirement definition into how to develop the solution, they had not done proper market research, did not have a clear USP, and therefore were missing the key points that would determine the products success.
We advised them to take a step back and do the research to answer these questions clearly before developing a line of code.
And in fact, once we went through the market discovery process to answer these questions, we realized that the current solution they had wanted to develop didn’t have a great trajectory for success because it failed to really solve a problem in a unique way for any target user base.
All that the product would do is offer another way to solve a variety of people’s problems, but it wouldn’t solve the problem better. Nor would it cater to solving the problem for a specific target user, thereby creating a product that was geared towards simplifying the process for this target user.
The business goal was to create a better, simpler solution. But the software requirements gathered were not going to accomplish that.
We then worked with the product owner to define new product requirements based on the user and market research we had compiled.
The result was a software product that was very targeted, thereby cutting the cost of development by hundreds of thousands of dollars, and more importantly, was now a product that had a market of target users with a strong need for it, thereby increasing the chances that the market would adopt this solution, ultimately cutting the expected marketing costs drastically.
We were happy we were able to come in do proper research and planning for this client and steer the product onto a more successful path early on, before too much time and money had been wasted.
But it showed me what happens when software projects rush into developing without having done proper requirements gathering, i.e. requirements gathering based on the business plans and goals, and not just technically creating a list of requirements that needs to be developed.
Which reminds me of a different client. One that wasn’t as lucky.
This client had an older, successful business and had created a software product to augment his current business. He came to us for help going to market.
We saw very quickly that their was not enough planning done on this project, and therefore their were quite a few large, costly mistakes that had been made.
I’ll just to give you an example of one so you can get the picture.
They had developed the app as a native app for both IOS and Android. After working with them for a few weeks on how to best launch their product we started wondering why they hadn’t built a progressive app, and thereby cutting their cost and time of development in half (or more).
So we asked them.
They didn’t have an answer.
Turns out they just didn’t invest enough time into research and strategy, identifying cleary what the business wanted to achieve with this software app and creating product requirements based on that, before jumping straight into development.
The results were that they had spent a few hours less planning, and thereby doubled the time spent developing…..
This showed me once again how vital it is to do proper strategic planning, and to have a system in place to constantly refine the requirements based on the strategy.
If you need more help using software to grow your business I’d be happy to help!
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