In our previous episode, we reviewed Scrum, a technique used for new product development. In this episode, we are going to review how an app development company approaches product planning from idea to launch. So, let’s dig in.
Designing and coding a product is merely 30% of product development. Product planning includes almost everything about a product, from idea initiation to tools selection and from marketing strategy to product’s launch. It helps devise an actionable, step by step process to develop a new product.
Idea initiation: Market Analysis/Resources analysis
In the mobile app development industry, a popular question people ask about an app is “what problem does it solve?” So, usually the first step of a new product development in mobile app development is a bit different from a physical product development process. Here, at Cygnis Media, we have worked with the world’s leading brands like Oreo, NFL, Emirates and Toyota. Most of the time when we start the first step (Idea Initiation), we look at what the objective of the application is, who will use it, and what kind of metrics we can shoot for in order for the app to be deemed a success.
Researching your target audience, is a vital step in the idea initiation phase. Another important aspect of this phase is to allocate time, resources and scheduling meetings for brainstorming sessions. Once a team has several ideas, they screen out ideas after discussing viability and validity through market analysis and resources analysis. Market analysis lets you gauge your idea’s worth, probable profitability, and feasibility of your idea in its respective industry. Resource analysis helps you understand whether you have enough technical prowess, expertise, and technology to successfully carry out the idea.
Funding: Bootstrap or Investors
As an app development company you have to decide whether you will execute your idea using your own resources, or seek outside assistance from an investor. A lot of things depend upon funding for your project. In both cases, you will have to set milestones, goals, and objectives for users, product, and set expectations of your investors (if any).
Consider this: if an investor invests $100,000 in your product, on many occasions, you will need to cater to their demands (or requirements). For example, “how many months after the initial investment will it take for the beta to be rolled out?” While having external investment is fantastic to have, it does come with its own set of pitfalls. When starting out small, it is usually advisable to bootstrap if you can so that you can call your own shots and not have to bend your timelines or project’s scope to someone else’s will.
Selecting a Methodology
There are different methods and techniques used by companies across the globe to approach product development. Earlier, there was the Waterfall method, a sequential design process where work flow like a stream (from top to bottom), hence the name Waterfall.
Then there is Agile, in which you focus mainly on developing the product’s features (stories) in collaboration with cross-functional teams. You solve problems as they arise through rapid and flexible response to change.
Then we have iteration, in which you start with specifying and implementing parts of your product, which are later reviewed in order to identify further requirements. This process is then repeated, producing a new version of your product with each cycle of the model.
Today, most app development companies use Scrum as a new product development framework. It is a beautiful mix of agile, iterative and incremental software development model. It is a flexible product development strategy where a team works as a unit to reach a common goal. You find a detailed overview of scrum in episode 1 of this series.
Identifying resource and tools to build your product
Next, you analyze your needs, requirements and then focus on selecting resources and tools that you may need to build your product. When it comes to mobile app development, there are a lot of tools available to build your product.
At Cygnis Media, we use a lot of different tools during product development. For example, we use Git as our primary repository system which offers all of the distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) functionality.
For project management, we use Basecamp to monitor, track and evaluate our product’s development. For internal communication within a product’s lifecycle, we use Slack as our main source of internal communication. Then there is Pivotal Tracker, which is a story-based project planning tool that works great with Scrum. It allows teams to collaborate and react instantly to real-world changes.
Marketing your product
Like David Packard said, “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” It is a make or break part for most products. Modern day marketing requires you to prepare for launch well before your product is ready to be launched.
A well written and well placed press release can introduce your product to its first users as well as garnering some attention from the Silicon Valley. A minimum viable product requires a series of press releases to introduce its newly launched features and functions.
Beta Testing with Landing Pages and Gathering Beta Users
Beta testing is an important part of product development where you test your product’s features and functionalities with a selected group of users. For getting a reliable set of beta users you can use landing pages which will serve two basic purposes:
- Keep your target audience updated about your product
- You can collect a mailing list for early birds.
Microsites are very popular for a product’s beta release and collecting emails of enthusiastic early adopters. A lot of companies apply A/B testing on the product’s multiple landing pages; this helps them develop a better user experience for their target audience, which in result provides them trusted and loyal beta users.
Product Release and Monitoring
Congratulations, you are here. A product release means you are about to throw your idea into the market, where your users will test it against their requirements and needs. However, your job is not finished with the product’s release. You will have to continuously monitor users’ feedback and suggestions for product improvement as well as for developing new features. You can use different analytical tools like Google Analytics, Flurry, and Apsalar to monitor your product’s performance with real time data.
In this post, we have seen how app development companies approach product planning, from idea initiation to its launch. In our next post, we will discuss how the minimum viable product approach has introduced new trends in product development. Until next time.