The future of a company depends on its ability to provide a competitive edge and stand out of the crowd. Nowadays, it often means developing innovative products that meet business needs from A to Z. So, what makes a seamless product development process? That’s what we tried to find out from our VP Products, Gil Schmidt, – and here are all the answers.
Product Development Roadmap
Everything you need to know about product development starts with a roadmap. A roadmap is an in-depth, multi-layer outline that pans out the specific steps necessary to reach the desired outcome. At Webpals Group, we design roadmaps yearly and do quarterly reviews to re-evaluate and amend when necessary.
Many steps go into crafting a roadmap, but we make sure to keep it as clean (and code-free) as possible, so it’s easy to communicate the steps and product story with our clients. And, like everything in product development, we try to look at the big picture and make changes along the way to ensure smooth sailing.
Let’s Talk Agile Methodology
An Agile Methodology is an iterative approach to product management that is performed in a collaborative environment. The methodology is highly adaptable to meet stakeholders’ changing needs and responds to the unpredictability of constructing software (the developer’s dream). It allows product teams to prioritize features correctly and to concentrate on features that bring in more value, profits, and maximum ROI. It focuses on continuous improvement, scope flexibility, and ways to optimize for quality results.
With the Agile approach’s iterative planning and feedback, teams can ensure the product reflects the desired needs of the client. And thanks to its adaptability, the teams can easily measure and evaluate the status of a project, bringing transparency and accurate visibility to all parties involved.
Ongoing changes can also sometimes give both the client and product team more than they envisioned for the product – it’s a “win-win” situation for all.
Teamwork in Product Development
The Agile methodology calls for a handful of important team members to bring the product into fruition and, at Webpals Group, we believe that teamwork makes the dream work (and that’s why our internal tagline is ‘Be Ahead Together’). All requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing and cross-functional teams, all of which must be very motivated to get the job done.
Here, our product development team includes full-stack developers, SCRUM masters (responsible for agile ceremonies) and product managers – who oversee multiple projects, act as a liaison, update business and management teams regarding timelines and mitigate any delays. Our product managers also write high-level requirements for each product, making sure no one overlooks the big picture. But with so many team players, you may be wondering how one comes to a consensus when something is done and ready for the next stage (you’re not alone).
The “Definition of Done” in Product Development
Introducing the “Definition of Done” (DoD). The “Definition of Done” separates things from being “in progress” to being “done” and brings consistency into product delivery. It’s an agreement between the client and the development team and contains both technical and business quality requirements.
The DoD is usually led by the ScrumMaster and defines whether a User Story is done by going over a detailed checklist to ensure consistent quality and completeness for every sprint imaginable.
Wait, what’s a user story, and what’s a sprint?
Let’s break this down for you – think of a user story as a business product need. Sprint tasks are used by teams to decompose user stories. These tasks are used to break down stories even further (can you imagine?). Tasks can be created by function – such as design, code, test, document, or UX.
Once the Definition of Done is agreed upon, then we know a user story has been completed.
Here’s an example of the DoD checklist:
So, rather than asking the ambiguous question, “are you done with this feature?”, you can go right ahead and check the criteria listed above. Also, the concept of “user stories” helps identify the minimum viable product (MVP), which allows teams to collect the maximum amount of information with the least amount of effort – finally!
Product Development Process in Action
But the show doesn’t stop there. While all is going well and you’re checking off your boxes for the DoD, you can’t forget about other phases necessary to ensure a clean and successful product. That’s where product lifecycle comes into play.
So, how does it all start? Short answer? Expectations management.
It’s crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page prior to starting to develop your product. That’s why the first step our product managers advice to make is talking all the high-level requirements over with all relevant stakeholders, describing what we call “the story” of the product’s lifecycle.
What’s next? Detailed requirements and actual development
Our product development team likes to call it “the detailed requirements” stage. That’s the time to think about the end result and strategize how to avoid bugs, and – if they do occur – how to handle errors in a friendly manner.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for you, as a product manager, to get ready and gather all the troops you might need to develop a good product, in advance. After completing this step, you can move on to actual product development where the key is to communicate with all parties involved, exercising diligence every step of the way.
Development – check! Next comes the launch phase, which has its own perks.
What we like to do at this stage is to include user guides and conduct face-to-face interviews with stakeholders. This is an excellent example of keeping communication lines open to ensure a smoother ride and mend any gaps when it comes to questions or concerns.
Does everyone agree on everything? Is DoD completed? Awesome! It’s time to start drafting those PRDs for each product on the roadmap and move forward to the post-launch stage to analyze how the new product/feature is working, and see your vision come to life.
That’s it! A few handy product development tips can never hurt, right? Hopefully, you got a good behind-the-scenes look at how Webpals Group goes about its product development, and you can learn from our example. 😊 If you’re up for sharing your expertise in the field, you’re welcome to apply for one of our open positions.