Software product development is a complex process that takes a considerable investment of time and resources. Such heavy investment makes project failure a disheartening prospect, especially since 28% of enterprise-grade projects fail to meet their objectives due to schedule overruns. That is why maximizing the speed of the product development process without sacrificing quality remains the holy grail of project management, but it is not impossible.
The key to accelerating the product development process lies in finding the delicate balance between speed and quality, and managing your development process properly will allow you to roll out your product faster, gain a competitive edge, and increase ROI—saving time for innovation and creativity.
How do you achieve such results?
Let’s analyze the key steps in the new product development process, define its most essential aspects, and discuss the best ways to increase development velocity while maintaining high software quality standards.
What are the 7 stages of the new product development process?
A typical product development process consists of several key stages that drive the product from concept to market launch. The number of steps in a product development process depends on the type of product you want to develop. In general, experts define 7 key steps in the new product development process:
1. Product discovery
The new product development process usually starts with discovery. During the discovery phase, the project team gathers all information regarding the future product, down to details. At this stage, you will cooperate closely with the team to specify requirements, document your acceptance criteria, set priorities, define core target audiences, assign roles and responsibilities, and generally map out the entire development process. There are four key reasons for running the discovery phase:
- BUILD product architecture according to specific business goals
- MAP OUT the development process with respect to the timeline and budget
- IDENTIFY and mitigate potential risks and dependencies
- DEFINE the acceptance criteria and the final product’s features
Investing the necessary time into product discovery will significantly improve the project results and save even more time throughout the software development lifecycle. It will give your team a higher level of understanding for the upcoming development stages.
2. Idea validation
This stage is a part and continuation of product discovery. Idea validation is critical for demonstrating the feasibility of your ideas. This process not only helps refine your concept but also aligns it with market demands and trends. It is an evidence-based stage that can be grounded in market research, a product prototype or proof of concept (PoC), or even a visual demo. Shaping your idea based on real-world data and feedback increases the probability of crafting a software solution that resonates with end-users and delivers value to your business.
This stage of the product development process sometimes comes as a part of the ideation phase as it is the definitive way to validate an idea. During this stage, your development team will build a prototype also known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that represents the simplified version of the final product. The good news here is that MVP can be built within just a couple of sprints and it will set a great starting point for the entire project.
Building an MVP is not mandatory but it can be a valuable step for building your future product. Through MVP, you can get a rough idea of what your future product is going to be like, make adjustments, test it with audiences, and improve upon initial ideas. More so, it will reinforce developers’ vision of the final product making the road ahead much clearer and faster.
With an MVP, you can introduce your product to live audiences, gather feedback, test demand, and check usability. Most importantly, MVP will give your team a headstart on the next phase as they will have a solid foundation for building the product. Additionally, gathering feedback from an MVP will help the team adjust certain features of the product to better tailor the product to the users’ demands.
4. Product development
Development or coding is a phase where the team divides the project into modules and turns your product requirements into code. This is the stage everybody thinks of when they speak about the product development process as a whole. In fact, this is just one of the phases.
Before releasing the software product for deployment in the production environment, it is essential to ensure that the quality assurance team conducts validation testing. It will confirm the product’s proper functionality and alignment with its intended purpose. This testing phase is also instrumental in pinpointing significant user experience and security issues that might be present.
The following categories of testing are recommended during this phase:
- Performance testing: evaluates the software's speed and scalability across various scenarios and conditions.
- Functional testing: validates that the software adheres to specified requirements and performs as expected.
- Security testing: aims to identify potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses within the software's security framework.
- Unit testing: involves testing individual units or components of the software in isolation to ensure their correctness.
- Usability testing: assesses the software's user interface and overall user experience to enhance its user-friendliness.
- Acceptance testing: also referred to as end-user testing, beta testing, application testing, or field testing, this final testing stage determines whether the product lives up to its promises and meets end-user expectations.
6. Market launch
Finally, we get to the most anticipated market launch. If you aim to introduce the product across multiple platforms, meticulous planning is crucial. This ensures a synchronized go-live on all platforms simultaneously. Equally vital is the formulation of your marketing strategy for the launch.
However, the journey doesn't conclude with the market launch. Continuous collection of feedback and assessment of your product's performance becomes imperative. Integrating in-product tools for users to share their perspectives is paramount, as it facilitates an ongoing stream of feedback and improvement.
7. Support and maintenance
The SDLC extends beyond the product's market launch. Developers transition into a maintenance phase, engaging in necessary activities to address concerns raised by end-users. Additionally, developers bear the responsibility of incorporating any necessary modifications that the software may require post-deployment.
Create your innovative software product from ideation to value with Trinetix
6 tips on how to speed up the product development process
Certain steps in the new product development process are fixed and can’t be sped up safely. However, it does not mean you can’t optimize the efficiency of development and ultimately reduce time to market.
Cutting the corners will definitely come to bite you in the back. In my practice, I’ve seen people who focus on coding too much and disregard discovery, planning, testing, and other integral aspects of the development process. Such projects often face problems down the pipeline and roll out later than they should have.
At Trinetix, we do not recommend cutting corners at the expense of quality, but we have the expertise to speed up the development through precise planning, attention to detail, automation, and sheer skill.
Do not ignore the discovery phase
Walk before you run. A common problem project managers encounter with their clients is disregard for the discovery stage and focus on the development stage itself. The problem with such an approach is that you can’t develop your product faster while stumbling upon unpredicted problems each sprint. A strategic discovery phase will help the team identify potential roadblocks early on, preventing scope creep, time-consuming and costly reworks, and ensuring predictable results.
Do not push speed over quality
Compromises with quality will lead to massive reworks and time loss. Trying to save time by ignoring seemingly trivial tasks will snowball into serious problems over time. Time constraints force people to haphazardly finish their tasks, often ignoring minor problems hoping they would just go unnoticed. People tend to make mistakes, forget details, and even ignore obvious problems under the pressure of tight deadlines. That is why you should not push the development team close to the limit of their capacity.
Automate as much as possible
Do not underestimate the heavy burden of monotonous tasks on your team. We strongly recommend automation as the best way to optimize monotonous labor and improve team efficiency. From workflow management to testing, automation of repetitive tasks saves time and effort. More so, automation will also free much time for innovative and creative endeavors as the developers will no longer be burdened with mind-numbing chores. The common areas for automation are:
- Testing: Manual testing, in its nature, is a monotonous and time-consuming process that has lots of room for human error. Automated testing solves this problem allowing the team to identify issues faster and with higher precision.
- Workflow automation: Using a variety of automation tools, project managers can streamline the product development process, from code reviews to issue tracking. This allows the team to roll out new features faster, limit work in progress, and be more productive while reducing errors.
- CI/CD pipeline: Applying continuous integration and continuous deployment pipeline can help automate and streamline the process of building, testing, and deploying changes to the code. This means that the team can release features faster and with greater confidence since each iteration gets tested automatically.
Maintain and grow the expertise
Work with a single team throughout the project. Speed and efficiency come with practice, and the more your team works on a particular product, the more they learn about it. The speed of delivery will snowball as your team gains more knowledge and experience with the project, and switching the gears at full speed will only hinder the delivery.
This will also help with scaling the team up. As you add new expertise, the existing developers will gain more and more knowledge while sharing their insights with the new team members.
Measure progress and make adjustments
As the team approaches new product development, project managers (PMs) will make estimates for each new sprint and then measure the team’s performance by the sprint’s end. That way, managers can set up an agile product development process to manipulate the team’s workload based on their performance during previous sprints.
By measuring the team’s performance, project managers can see how fast the team delivers results throughout increments. With that knowledge, the PMs will define an optimal load the product team can handle. If the team successfully finishes all the tasks with time to spare, it means you can increase the load for the following sprint. If the opposite happens, project managers will have to analyze the problems, eliminate blockers, and optimize performance accordingly.
Reuse the old and build the new
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time. If possible, start a new product development process with example of an already existing product. If your goal is to build, say, a logistics customer portal with unique features that tend to the peculiar needs of your audiences, there’s nothing wrong with taking pages from someone else’s book. Even when building a fully custom product, do not ignore the achievements of other products, use them to your advantage.
Alternatively, you may have a similar product of your own. Your development team could use it as a foundation for an entirely new solution that yields better results for your business. The ultimate goal is to create a product that stands out and differentiates you from the rest of the market.
Safely accelerate the new product development with Trinetix
The product development process is a multifaceted endeavor that demands strategic planning, efficient collaboration, and precise execution. By planning the process ahead, harnessing the power of automation, and prioritizing quality rather than speed, product development teams can significantly accelerate their workflows without compromising the quality of the end solution.
At Trinetix, we emphasize continuous testing, early feedback loops, and proactive problem-solving cultivating an environment of adaptability and continuous improvement. While every project comes with its unique challenges, the integration of these tips and practices empowers development teams to navigate complexities, deliver software more swiftly, and meet the evolving demands of the audiences.