Products: A New Development…

by

lamp-432249_640

Throughout my career, I’ve had a number of opportunities to be involved with (or own) software product development. This includes shrink-wrapped (video games), frameworks (for enterprise development), enterprise COTs (supply chain) and CRM (customer integration, digital integration and vertically tailored solutions).

Recently I was working with a potential client, and they are looking to build out a product capability, which brought up a really great discussion on methodology for product development vs. regular software development. I thought it would be a good idea to spend a bit of time thinking about it and writing up some of the similarities, differences and generally good practices required to be successful at product development (many of which I learned by doing the opposite and living with the failed consequences).

Just a few of the thoughts that come to mind:

  • Methodology: Software development follows an SDLC (software development life-cycle) while product developments follows a PDLC (product development life-cycle). This is a pretty significant difference because the life of each is way different, this is primarily due to the fact that software is typically built once, deployed once and maintained once. Products are built to be sustained, deployed to many customers and maintained across various deployments. Just as there are many SDLCs, there are also many PDLCs. I think the single most critical part for SDLC is how requirements are a captured and implemented, and I think the single most critical part for PDLC is similar – making sure you really understand the core of what problem the product is being built to address. Especially with products, it’s easy to want to implement feature and feature. But if you don’t get the core right, it won’t be a success.
  • Requirements: Both product development and software development starts by having good requirements. And one of the most critical aspects to getting good requirements is by going directly to the users. One thing that does often distinguish product development is that you are solving a general problem instead of a specific one. This often leads to development teams “making up” requirements based on what they believe future customers will want. This is a huge mistake. (And one that can often occur building software too.) If a user hasn’t asked for it, don’t build it! If you think they might like it, ask them!
  • Financials: Both development efforts should take a business case oriented view. Financially, you are making an investment, and you need to make sure that the ROI is there. For product development, this should be much more extensive because the investments are typically higher, and you need to make sure you are really analyzing the marketplace and potential uses. A good PDLC puts this front and center, but it’s important to do this more than just at the start – you need to continually look at the market and make sure that you have a viable product. Of course, one really big challenge is when you are successful making sure that you continue to innovate.
  • Testing:  proper testing is important for SDLC, but, frankly, you have a bit more wiggle room. In PDLC, testing is critical not just to make sure your product is low on defects, but it’s also a continued validation of the value of the product you are building. Don’t think of testing as just quality assurance; treat it like market testing as part of the PDLC.

I know there are many other aspects to software development vs. product development that I haven’t brought up, but I think this is a good start to the conversation.

 

READ MORE

The Leadership Dog Years

The Leadership Dog Years

As a business leader, I feel like I’ve been living in dog years — so much has happened that this year feels more like seven. In the spring, our company — like many others — had to throw out our annual plans and quickly pivot to new ones. In the summer, we increased...

read more
Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

About a week ago, I completed the second live (virtual) training in the process of becoming a Certified Professional Coach through iPEC. Once again, my mind was blown! It reinforced for me that virtual workshops can, and do, work, and, in a lot of ways, I prefer them...

read more
Finding My Work-Life Balance

Finding My Work-Life Balance

In my previous post, I told the story of how I got back into consulting after becoming a mom. All of the diverse experiences I had during that journey have helped me to find my work-life balance by… Defining Boundaries “Go home,” my first boss said 12 years back —...

read more
How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

I Landed My Dream Job Throwback to 2014, I had completed my MBA, landed my dream job as a consultant, and was hoping that my new consulting career would exponentially ramp up my career growth for the next 5 years. This would position me to take on critical decision...

read more
Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

In August of this year, as part of our annual company meeting, our team at Thought Ensemble participated in the foundational session of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training led by Dr. Nika White, IOM, CDE (she/her/hers). One of the most meaningful moments...

read more
Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

It is often said that organizational culture is like a fog — it is all around us; it impacts our ability to see, to move quickly, and to deliver; but we cannot quite put our finger on it. Indeed, some organizations see their culture as a byproduct of operations,...

read more
We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

Why have we refreshed our brand, you ask? Well, as we have grown and matured as an organization, we felt that our previous brand elements no longer represented us as well as they could. You see, we founded Thought Ensemble back in 2008 to help companies better compete...

read more
Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

I recently wrote about how company purpose is being tested and inspired by all the events of 2020. This topic is very real for us at Thought Ensemble. We’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters as we’ve navigated the challenges of this year. While we’ve had...

read more