Software Product Development: The Ultimate Guideline

Software Product development is the entire process of bringing a product to the market. And a sound product development strategy will help you set the main objective, plans, and features of a product. Depending on your requirements, you can select what components to include based on what you want to emphasize– the strategic aspects, the resources, the features, etc.

If you want to build a proper product development strategy, follow these 5 steps below: 

1. Clearly define the product development goal 

Many businesses don't define the purpose of the product and service when planning a product strategy. But, it’s great to know what you’re building, what key features are, who your target audience is, etc. Without an idea about the “why” and “what”, your strategy could fail. 

Having shared objectives and a common vision keeps consistency in what will be provided. And, if you do not know how to define the purpose, these questions can help understand what you want to achieve with your product and prepare a suitable strategy.

  • Why do you want to develop this product?
  • What are the benefits of developing this product at this time?
  • Why is developing this product will help users?
  • Why are you building the product?
  • What pain points are you trying to solve?
  • Who is your target audience? 

2. Establish mile-stones and OKR

Key results are the metrics that determine the objectives and the journey to gain these goals. And numerous enterprises apply OKRs as a method to determine and set their goals. 

Why are OKRs important in product management? For managers, ORKs help them trace a strategy to align their work and their goals with the corporate vision. And for employee positions, clarity is an effective alignment because they can know what the objective is and define the steps according to a particular timeline. 

The key results should be measurable and able to support the evaluation of the outcomes when compared with the specified objectives. And this alignment of efforts helps them understand if they have or have not gained these goals. 

Here is a simple example to understand this more in-depth:

– Objective: Improve the website’s User Experience.

– Key result #1: Decrease new user registration time to Y%.

– Key result #2: Improve task success rate from X% to Y%.

– Key result #3: Increase System Usability scale from X to Y. 


3. Hire and Assemble Your Product Development Team

Defining what members of the organization need to be part of your team is an important step to build a product development roadmap. The successful software development team for your roadmap should include all the key people that can help define the features and aspects that will work for the product and a specific audience. 

There are four primary audiences to keep in mind when proposing and discussing the key features the product will have:

Leadership: The board member has a responsibility to ensure the product will align with the company’s primary purpose and vision and have the ability to make strategic and visionary decisions and convince others to follow those decisions. When discussing the product roadmap, make sure to avoid using technical terms or overcomplicated explanations. 

The tech team or the software development team’s duties is to find a method to make clients’ ideas into reality. The answers such as what, why, and when will help define the timeline and understand exactly what other clients expect from the product.  

The marketing team is responsible for planning strategies to promote brand awareness and drive sales of an organization's products or services. Marketing teams include several individuals with varying skills and responsibilities who work together to achieve mutual marketing goals. They may create and implement digital marketing, brand management, public relation, and customer outreach strategies through research, data analysis, and industry knowledge.

Sales: Sales managers are responsible for leading sales to reach sales targets. 

Having meetings with them will help everyone be on the same page regarding the key features and the surprise element your product will have that makes it different from others.

4. Product-Market Fit Research & MVP Development

After you've assembled your team and developed a coherent vision for the building of your product, it's time to determine the critical features that will best advance your strategy. This stage is more challenging than the others and will cost you more time since you ought to investigate and contemplate alternative areas to succeed with your product. To reach your goal, answer the questions below:

How is the market doing right now?

What makes your product effective?

What is the rivalry doing?

How do the new and similar products work?

You can begin defining and prioritizing the noteworthy features of your product after responding to these questions. Avoid developing a product with so many functionalities since it is very treacherous to test and build. Limit your focus on a minimal number of outstanding characteristics to support you stand out from the crowd. Thereafter, you should begin testing your product to observe how it will affect people’s lives. There are various ways and strategies to do this, such as:

Focus groups: This is a research method used to gather information through group discussion. A moderator provides the topic, and a group of people who have been carefully chosen will analyze and discuss it. This method is employed by investigators to gain a deeper understanding of attitudes and the motivations behind people's actions under particular conditions. Regarding product development roadmap, focus groups assist teams in identifying crucial elements in a product and in developing a more objective understanding of the product they are making, based on potential users. Considering how the epidemic has altered things, it could make sense to conduct focus groups virtually rather than in person. To accomplish this, you'll need to acquire a webinar platform that will allow you to host the necessary number of focus group participants and enable viewer interaction to clarify any concerns you might have.

Design thinking: represents a method that focuses on identifying solutions based on user behaviors in some challenging situations. Working alongside a possible client while keeping an eye on how they act and behave in particular circumstances is how design thinking is applied in a product development roadmap. Teams can learn which features provide more value to a product and which ones are superfluous by monitoring and talking with these potential customers.

After you have identified the most necessary attributes, The next step is to build your prototype (You may build one or several, depending on your strategy and product.). Constructing prototypes is extremely vital in any circumstance since failure during the prototype phase is always better and safer than failure after the product has already been released.

5. Software Testing QA & Release

Epic failures throughout history have occurred as a result of skipping this phase. Companies frequently develop things they believe must be well-liked, but consumers fail to find any value.

The critical goal of this step is to determine which parts in the prototype work, and which don't because you don't want to start developing your product only to find out it was a catastrophic and utter failure. You want to produce something that customers will desire and be willing to pay for.

Once you have determined your core characteristics and conducted various kinds of market research, you can begin developing and testing your final product version. It's time to initiate the testing process when you have completed your market analysis and tested several prototypes and features.

Here is where you construct a mockup of your product that includes its key characteristics. This stage can differ based on your product (hardware vs. software), but it generally involves assessing the people's reaction to your product among a minor group of customers.

Let's imagine the example of mobile application development that links people who want to learn a new language with the teachers seeking students. You assemble a group of individuals who make up your target market (they may be the same individuals you selected for the focus group) and provide them the opportunity to experience the product; and then you take back your product, implement changes considering their feedback, and retest it. For instance, someone can claim that having a map feature would be useful to know where teachers arrange their courses and what languages they can teach. Another person can complain that the user interface is challenging to use. All of these comments will assist you to improve your product.

You are currently prepared for the beta release, which is the last round of testing before a product is made available to more mass audiences. At this place, a vast number of people can test out your pre-release applications in real-world environments. Some businesses explicitly specify in the app stores that their applications are in beta release status, letting customers know that the software is still being tested. It will be the same if you are developing a website. Check various features, whether all buttons redirect to the correct page and how quickly the website responds; there are a bunch of free online tools to help you verify the speed, like the Website Speed Checker.

Following the beta release, you can collect all the user feedback and produce your finished product. To assure the success of the product, many team areas (engineering, customer service, sales, marketing, etc.) will have to work on their final release strategy.