Why the Digital Product Development Process is Never Finished
The concept behind this article is a simple one. To convince you that the word FINISHED shouldn’t exist in the realms of developing digital products (or any product for that matter).
To be truly successful in planning, developing, designing and deploying a digital product, you must remove the word finished from your vocabulary altogether. Of course, this philosophy has been around for centuries (no exaggeration). But this quote from tennis legend Mats Wilander sums up the general sentiment here:
“Your game stalls when you assume you are the finished product.”
Thanks, Mats, for your insightfulness.
The initial takeaway is that a small change in perspective will put you ahead. Stop thinking about FINISHING and start thinking about EVOLVING.
Putting the process into the product development process.
By undertaking a project to develop a digital product, you must accept responsibility for its future. It’s a never-ending process.
Every digital product is different, but the first thing to consider remains universal - COST.
In reality, the reason so many products fail is due to poor budgeting and lack of vision. Before you can create a digital product that stands the test of time, you must acknowledge it’s not going to be cheap. Poor understanding of your investment will see your product failing to remain relevant and competitive. But by bearing this in mind from the get-go will help steer better decision making going forward.
Here are some other components in the initial phases of the product development process you may have considered already:
Planning your process.
Do you know where you will be in three weeks, three months and three years? Knowing your plan of attack is going to be the driving force behind the evolution of your product.
Who are your people?
By this, we mean the people who are there working on the ground, creating and designing your product. When the team have completed the product, do they continue to actively interact and have an impact on its future?
Designing and deploying the product.
After these ‘initial’ steps of creating the product, you may start to hear the word FINISHED flying around. True, the product may be nearing completion of its first version, but truthfully you’ve just crossed the start line.
Iterate to innovate.
So you’ve reached a crossroads here. You have a choice between the path of least resistance and the path of constantly challenging yourself, your product and your team to strive for the best possible product you can offer. We recommend the latter.
At this point, Iteration becomes central to your product’s journey. To keep growing and finding sustained success, you must learn from your mistakes and challenge the status quo.
Version 1 will never be the best and Version 2 probably won’t be much better either. But by V10… You see where this is going. Your product will make leaps and bounds just by consistently iterating. Essentially, through making the minor changes, you will see a major impact.
No one said this would be easy...
To make things more difficult, the next version will never be far behind. The reality of creating and maintaining digital products is that from the moment you release any new iterations, it will already be past its sell-by date.
So, what can you do?
Well, perhaps this isn’t a technical issue, so much as a commercial one. Remember when I mentioned budget and vision before?
One of the best ways to ensure the long-term success of your product is by investing in the right team. The team who initially designed the product will always be the best ones to carry on improving it; making sure your product is never truly FINISHED. In the end, it will be following a consistent evolutionary trajectory through learning and iteration.
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