Crash Course in Product Development Part 2

| By:
Linda Brotherton

Conceive & Realize

Welcome to part two of product development! In part one, we talked about what key areas R&D should identify. But today, we’ll talk about the next step: conceiving and realizing.

So you’ve done your research. The market can sustain your product. It solves a big need your customers have, and you think you can solve it in a unique way that will save customers time. Awesome! Now, it’s time to make it real.

And to successfully create your product, you need requirements.

Your high-level product requirements should include:

Careful analysis.

In phase one, you identified what problem you’re solving. But this defines how you’re going to solve that problem. You’re essentially building a high-level features and functionality roadmap.

Profitability forecasts.

Document how much it costs to make each unit. Determine how much your audience can/will pay. And then note what your anticipated profit will be on each unit sold. If you find you’re not making money, tweak the variables and try again.

Business case studies.

In an ideal scenario, what benefits will your customer receive? Why should they care? The more closely you can tie these benefits to productivity or revenue, the better.

Build, buy, or partner.

It doesn’t always make sense to take on everything related to creating your new product. Many times, doing that will either delay your launch and/or lead to a poorer end product. Focus on your core mission, and bring together the best solutions.

Here at ConnectWise, we’re all about adding new functionality that improves partner success. But sometimes it makes more sense for us to partner, then build complementary solutions like quote and proposal automation, remote monitoring and management, and visual documentation solutions.

That’s why we invest in and partner with companies who offer outstanding complementary solutions—Quosal, LabTech, and BizDox. It’s a win-win. We don’t have to learn a whole new focus area, and they enjoy a new base of customers.

Once you’ve got that down, it’s time to define requirement specs, such as:

Functional requirements.

These should define what your system is supposed to accomplish. This can include calculations, technical details, data manipulation, and processing.

Detailed use cases.

This is essentially your user guide. It should provide a list of steps to achieve a specified goal. A carefully developed guide will equip the end user to answer most of their own questions, cutting down on frivolous tech support calls, and saving your support team precious time.

Usability expectations.

This refers to the user experience customers can expect to receive from your product. By creating a platform with an intuitive and consistent user experience, you’ll help customers more efficiently navigate tasks within your system.

Change control.

What if you went to the Google search engine and the search bar was nowhere to be found? You’d freak out, right? The same is true of your customers when you overhaul their interface. Change will be necessary, but create a process that includes rigorous testing and a method for communicating the impending change to customers.

That’s it for the ‘conceive and realize’ phase. In part three, we’ll talk about designing and building. Check back soon for this next installment. Or, subscribe to the ConnectWise Blog, so you’ll be notified when it’s posted.