Product Development Process for Software Products
Product Development is a process used to bring products to market and perfect business models. It is used for many types of businesses, but in this post, we will go deeper into this process applied to software development. Stay a little longer and find out everything.
Product Development as a process
“It is a group of steps that together fulfill the goal of conceptualizing, developing, and launching a new or rebranded product on the market based on the customers’ demand. “
It is kind of similar to the Cobuild Process we use to accelerate ideas, turn them into minimum viable products and profitable businesses.
The Product Development Process is composed for the next phases (Overview)
Before starting this section, we must tell you that there are different frameworks for this development methodology and each framework has specific steps. But in general, this process has four phases that have to be accomplished no matter which framework you have chosen. And these are: 1) Concept phase, 2) Engineering phase, 3) Manufacturing Phase, 4) Marketing and commercialization Phase.
Phase 1: Concept
This generic phase is divided into three subpoints because the treatment given to the idea from the beginning is quite complicated. Start from the generation of all the senses, the review made, and the final conceptualization that will be the foundation of the business model and the product that will be presented as a solution.
- Idea Generation
In this first phase what you’re going to feed on is as many ideas as possible. Business ideas, products, and everything you would like to incorporate into your project. There is no limit, or they do not have to be coherent with each other. It’s just a list of ideas that you’re going to place in no order specific order.
You can base yourself on what some competitors do, on magazines, on what potential customers talk about or want, on a need you have or have detected in a market, or simply on your creativity. Anything goes at this stage. Even choose some technique for generating ideas such as brainstorming, group activities, surveys, etc..
This phase is fundamental because it is from this phase that the project will be built and the software or product will be developed.
- Review of ideas
At this point, it is necessary to organize all the ideas from the previous phase, and then make a selection of the most viable, those that you consider most valuable and important to include in your development process.
If you see that many of the things you thought disappear at this point, because after analyzing them you saw that they are unfeasible for many reasons (economic, legal, or any) don’t worry, it’s normal. Sometimes less is more, and effectiveness and efficiency start from being as concrete and simple as possible.
Focus a lot on the market, on people’s needs, on the solution you offer, and on how much it will cost you, how much you will have to invest. Keep only the essentials.
It is at this stage that ideas are really shaped. The necessary aspects are analyzed in greater depth, and all actions are aimed at bringing them to life in a plan.
In this phase, it is common to perform practices such as SWOT analysis that translates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your ideas.
In this image, you can clearly see this practice which is almost like a religious practice that is done to a business model that is just being formulated.
It is also common at this stage to clearly define the investment you must make, how much it will cost you to start and develop the project, how much profit you can achieve, you can think about the segmentation of your target audience and what strategy you will use to reach them, and even visualize marketing strategies.
Quantitative market research is an activity that usually is part of this phase on the Product Development Process. Actually, it is necessary making it for this step and during the whole process if it is possible, even when the product is finished and launched.
This is the analysis phase of concept, of conceiving the action plan.
Phase 2: Engineering
In this phase, the goal of designing and starting to develop the first versions of the product is fulfilled. This is why we speak of Minimum Viable Product or Prototypes. All this, before the massification, in case of physical products or full versions of software products. It is a kind of soft launch.
- Software Development
In the Software Development, should be contemplated steps as the product design, the selection of the technology you are going to use, the human team, the development of the project as such, be it software or not. If it is in your plans, making a Prototype or a Minimum Viable Product, it can be included market tests, product testing, and other complex steps like these.
And as we said before, it is also propitious to carry out quantitative and qualitative market and product research because this way you can evaluate how good or bad are the strategies, the actions, the processes that you are carrying out.
At this point, it is where what you previously conceptualized is executed, where the magic happens.
Phase 3: Manufacturing
At this stage, all tests and validations are done. What remains is to massify the product if it is a mass consumer product.
In case your product is software, this phase is for making the acceleration of the product and the company, and complete a launch.
Here you make quality controls, you develop a logistic of sell and commercialization, and in general line, you accelerate your business.
Phase 4: Marketing and Commercialization
This point sometimes goes unnoticed. At least at the beginning of the project, and when the project is on track people notice the huge importance of this aspect for the product or service that is being developed.
But this won’t be your case, for sure. Especially if you are following the Product Development Process, because in this type of projects the tasks of marketing and commercialization begin to be considered from the earliest stages, even from the conception of ideas.
In this phase are always involved actions such as market research and analysis, ad campaigns, planning and implementation of social media strategies, video marketing, the process you’re going to use to market it, and so on.
The goal of this stage is to cultivate, maintain and increase a brand’s market.
And if, when we refer to maintaining or increasing the market for the software product. Also to those that want applying to rebrand or change them in some way.
This is the overview of the whole process, but as we said, each one of these phases generally has many specifics steps or tasks on detail.
These phases are an overview. But they are more specific and complex depending on the framework of Product Development used. Below there are several emphasized in Software Product Development.
Frameworks of Software Product Development
1. Cobuild Process
This is the framework that we use, and we consider that it is the most successful to develop a software product.
This product development framework consists of transforming an idea into a sustainable and profitable business over time, following a series of validations, techniques, and activities for it.
The main value of the Cobuild Process is that it is designed to achieve Product-Market Fit with a minimal amount of activities and time.
At this point, you must analyze your idea, the market and your hypotheses of value and growth over time. These analyses are possible thanks to validation activities such as the Validation Board of Lean Entrepreneurship.
Don’t forget that every aspect must be validated, including technical and economic aspects.
We take advantage of this stage to improve the idea as much as possible, in fact, that’s why we catalog ourselves as an accelerator of ideas.
In this phase, we build the idea of using good practices, tools, and a multidisciplinary team. All this to develop a Prototype or a Minimum Viable Product that must be tested with software testing practices. Tests are made in each procedure and sub-procedure, unit tests, A/B testing, live tests and whatever is necessary to improve the quality and the compliance of the Software Product you’re developing.
In the plan step, you must already have a Minimum Product validated in the market, and now, what corresponds is to make identity to your brand, give it a personality, values and make many marketing and commercialization efforts like the website, social media account, strategies, etc.
At this phase, we figure out how we are going to get the first users, methodologies, strategies, and actions.
At this point, we have a sustainable and good business with strategies and a product validated. This is the time to accelerate your business and try to get short-term exponential growth. This is the last step.
2. Fuzzy Front End (FFE)
This is a framework that has a few particularities. Among them, the team who uses it knows all the stages that compose the process, which we will explain later, but the interesting thing is that they do not necessarily have to follow these steps in the exact order. The team itself decides in which order it is best to apply them for a particular product.
These are the five elements that make up the development of products in this framework:
- Identification of design criteria
This is where brainstorming, creative brainstorming, is applied to begin to shape the product idea and apply a more comprehensive idea conception strategy.
- Idea Analysis
The goal of this step is to determine the viability of the product we want to make. And of course, this can be determined with market studies, better conceptualizing the idea and studying well the environment, ie competition, users, etc..
- Concept Genesis
Which is basically to convert this idea or an opportunity that you saw on a real and concrete solution.
It is very common in software product development to the first prototype to test and validate the product.
“Prototyping in this front-end context means a “quick-and-dirty” model is created, rather than the refined product model that will be tested and marketed later on.”
- Product development
This is the last phase, which would mean that even the software prototype passed the test and can be marketed, in other words, launched on the market.
3. Design Thinking
This is a method for developing a software project, a business, and even a problem that you have to solve.
Its focus is the innovation in essence because it is a half point between feasibility, desirability, and most importantly, viability.
It is composed of the next steps:
Here you must learn about a specific problem, and look for different perspectives. But remember, at this time, it applies to software solutions.
Clarify the reach of the problem, search for its source, and delimited the nature of the problem that you would attack with your software solution.
Think and create as many ideas as you can. Have a brainstorming of solutions. It does not matter how crazy or simple it can look.
At the end of this step, you have to considerate to make a selection and choose only the best and more viable ideas that later you will incorporate in your software or business.
Build your software with the minimum required. Create a prototype taking into consideration all the information that you collected before and run it.
This prototype you have to test it. Take a group of people and invite them to use your solution, then they would make suggestions, share their experience, or just make a review.
With this data, you will be able to improve the prototype and make the best version of this minimum product.
Differences with the Cobuild Process
If it is necessary to choose a framework to put into practice to develop a Software Product, we bet for the Cobuild Process, and here we will show you a comparison between them:
- The phase of idea generation is not present at all, you begin from the idea conceptualization and the improvement of the main idea. We leave the complexity of generating the idea to a separated process
- The review and conceptualization phase are together in the Idea Validation step. This is a complex step where not only the idea is validated and improved, it is studied the market, the solution, the audience, and so on.
- The Software Development phase is equivalent to the Cobuild phase. That’s when software development happens. The team builds the idea and develop a minimum viable product, a prototype that is going to be validated again by the public, and this would be ready to launch the raw product to the market.
- All details about the Commercialization and Marketing phase we cover it in the planning stage, however, everything remains in a plan, which later must be executed in the soft launch and in the acceleration phase.
- As of the last phase of Cobuild, we find a step that is not within the macro process as is the acceleration where we are looking to develop exponentially and short term software product.
Software Product development process here, in Miami
If you did not know it, our team Cobuild Lab work with the Cobuild framework that is part of the macro Product Development Process we apply. So, you can contact us click here or just visit us in the Miami office.
For having more information like this, you also can subscribe to our newsletter. The goal is that you as an entrepreneur do not stay without developing your business idea.
After this tour of the Product Development Process, we shared this video with a particular example, so you can enjoy it and understand it better with images and voices. Enjoy it and dare to make it, you can get good results with it.