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Jim Walsh, CTO, GlobalLogic, shares some best practices that product development companies can adopt to build products that not only meet with the expectations of customers, but also go on to become successful businesses.
What does it take to productise an idea? What are the challenges involved in the process and which best practices would you recommend to deal with them?
As a best practice, I would recommend the use of Agile product development methodology, which we also practice at GlobalLogic. The methodology is more of a process umbrella, or a model that helps the product development teams to eliminate the element of risk during product development.
The methodology radically changes the way you develop software. You can take the risk out of the process of product development. You can keep taking the results to the customer and by maintaining a constant dialogue with them, you can mitigate the risk involved at the earliest possible level which further results in de-risking the product as development continues.
Being a step-by-step process, Agile methodology allows product development teams to modify at every stage of product development, as per the customers' evolving requirements, to help build the best possible software product.
How important is it to keep the end-customer perspective in mind?
It is extremely important... it is, in fact, crucial for a producteer to assess what the customer would want, and whether the end user will pay for the product that is in the offing. When we are doing research, we need to ascertain that part.
Does the process of product development also involve a lot of mentoring, especially in cases where the entrepreneurs are enthusiastic about an idea but the product engineer feels otherwise?
Clients usually come up with an idea. We help them visualise it, expand it, and realise it. They may have the grandest vision, but the challenge lies in translating that vision into a successful product. Therefore, there is always a need to validate an idea from the customer, market, technology and financial perspectives.How different is it to build a product from scratch compared to tweaking an existing product that is not working well?
From an entrepreneur's point of view, tweaking an existing product is a much better scenario. At this stage, one has richer data. The entrepreneur understands what has worked and what hasn't worked in the product. It is important to note that entrepreneurs only undertake to tweak a product when they know that the product has the potential to do well. That is the sole reason that makes them continue with the product. There may be challenges but they can be overcome by effectively incorporating the customer feedback at this stage.
How much of the client involvement is advisable? What if they are too interfering, especially when the entrepreneur is technologically sound and understands the processes? Does that impede the product development process, or does it help?
However, at GlobalLogic, if we don't agree with a client's viewpoint, we recommend an alternative strategy.