How did it happen that a few months after a product’s release on the market, its features did not match the needs of users? How does it feel when the whole business plan is only suitable for being put on the shelf next to seven volumes of “In Search of Lost Time”? An IT project is not only a complex process, but also a strategic game from which we will return on the shield if we are not well armed. Fortunately, the right weapon is at hand – Scrum.
Creating a product is very simple. We agree upon its properties, employ a team of programmers, set costs, and schedule deadlines. It’s as simple as that! My question is: do you want to create a product for its existence, or create it so that it can be used by users? That makes a huge difference! How to notice it? What is the best way to discover the path to success? Step by step, and there are 10 of them.
What does your project consist of?
When starting to create an application or other IT system, we have to break down the project into prime factors.
• Business – the entrepreneurial and financial part of the project. Market goals, analyses, concepts, strategy and, of course, budget are included here.
• Product – main goal, Holy Grail and philosophical stone of the project. All project activities must be coordinated so that they serve to develop a successful product.
• Product development team – developers and Scrum Master on the part of the programming agency and you as the originators and owners of the product, without whom there would be no project.
• Marketing – we have already written how important it is to implement a marketing strategy simultaneously with building the foundations of the application.
• Sales – increasingly linked to marketing strategy for generating revenue for your start-up.
• Future users – a target group that we have to keep in mind at all times when building an application. This is our customer and our product is to serve him/her.
• A changing market – the most important element that can beat us if we are not vigilant. The world is changing as quickly as if it were fed with steroids on an industrial scale. Products are transforming, technologies are evolving, and above all – the tastes and needs of users are changing.
It is a complicated system of connected vessels in which every smallest burst will entail changes in the other aspects of the design. Imagine what would happen if the entire project was rigidly designed in advance to the smallest detail.
10 steps that lead to product burnout
This is the moment when you need to activate your imagination. We are at the final stage of the project. What’s going on?
1. The works are finished and as a Product Owner you receive a product for testing.
2. It looks like the software house has done everything in accordance with the original assumptions and business requirements.
3. You carry out the first tests, during which it turns out that the original assumption or function can be improved to become more convenient for the user. You give feedback to developers, and they say that they will make changes, but they need a few weeks to do so.
4. At this time, you are making a false start by launching marketing and sales.
5. The business plan schedule needs not only to be updated, but to turn many organisational issues upside down.
6. The software house provides an improved product. You proudly bring it to the market.
7. Several months have passed since the product was launched and what turns out? That the prepared features do not match the actual needs of users.
8. Time for status and uncomfortable conclusions. You have invested a large budget, a lot of time and people’s work on many levels and instead of achieving the result at the estimated level of 75-100%, you reach only 35%.
9. You look at your carefully-prepared business plan and wonder what to do with it, because in this shape it no longer makes sense.
10. You have reached a place where you need to write a business plan again and find money for the agency to work on the project. It is possible that you will also have a difficult conversation with angel investor, if you have acquired one for the project.
Is it possible to anticipate all the situations that will get in your way and force you to make difficult decisions at the start of the project? Definitely not. Especially in a technological design, where the expectations of users or product owners are particularly susceptible to unexpected changes.
What is the alternative?
Scrum – 10 steps to product success
It’s time for a positive scenario and relief for your project. Let’s go back to the very beginning of work on the application.
1. As product owners, you know its assumptions and specifics perfectly.
2. All product features are equally important to you, because thanks to them the product is to generate profits.
3. You meet the development team before the start of works and talk about the product and its key features. You also signal the less important ones so that developers have a full picture of the product.
4. The development team learns the priorities and bases the work schedule on them for the next few weeks. Instead of extending the entire process to provide you with a fully ready application, developers are focusing on building at least one of the most important features.
5. Software house starts the sprints, fully understanding the most priority features and general assumptions of the product.
6. Code writing begins and most importantly – as product owners, you are not isolated from the workflow! Already at the programming stage, you can receive progress information every day, and even test individual items.
7. After a few weeks you get the MVP, which you can show to users. After all, the best version of the product is created for them.
8. This stage and the first signals from users are not only a great opportunity to build relationships with the customer and strengthen the brand, but also a great time to introduce changes in the product without turning everything upside down.
9. You return to the development team with specifics. Developers do not waste time getting to know the specifications, they just know what needs to be improved and how. What should be noted here: you already know at this stage what to look for when determining the next product features. In other words – you have a chance to improve the product before selling!
10. The project is gaining momentum. The development team is in constant contact with you, so you don’t miss the product for a moment. Developers are coding patches on an ongoing basis and simultaneously, you are planning sprints for next features together with the agency. Finally, users get what they’ve been waiting for!
Success = Scrum + commitment
The construction of an application or other technological systems is a winding path on which unpleasant surprises lurk most often. Fortunately, you can prepare yourself for it. What counts is not only Scrum as a survival school, but also 100% of your commitment in a product that you own.