If as a business founder, you don’t feel confident enough to take the leads of your tech product development strategy, we’ll change your mind right now!
Lack of knowledge is not an excuse to delegate such an essential part of your company’s planning and growth. Here’s why you should write your own strategy, and which components it must contain!
What a product development strategy really is
The product development strategy is simply putting together the relevant research that backs up your idea. You know everything there is to know about the market, the technical possibilities and the competition.
In short, it’s the explanation of your business vision, with an action plan to deliver the product your customers need! If it seems easier said than done, we are about to show it isn’t.
Find the Job To Be Done
Customers always have something that needs to be done, and the essence of the Jobs To Be Done Framework (JTBD) is creating a structure to understand what are those.
What the JTBD does is provide an overview of products and solutions in terms of the jobs people want to get done, and help to spot opportunities for innovation and critical aspects to be considered when coming up with a strategy.
Focus on customer experience
The whole point of going through this is explaining in the clearest possible way how your target audience will interact with your product or solution.
For that, you must put yourself in your customer’s shoes to figure out how they’ll behave and what they’ll expect from the application. Also, you might need to draw a couple of app screens – by hand, nothing fancy – to have clear examples of how it looks like and functions.
It’s with this simple step that you’ll start convincing people of how awesome your product is! You need to educate your audience, so they can make their own conclusions and judge for themselves.
Just saying so is not enough. It will be easier if other people share how your product makes them feel, makes their lives better and easier, working as brand advocates.
Trust yourself with your startup vision and idea
You don’t need an expert in every single task to build your startup! You are the most qualified person to develop your idea, since you are the owner, right?
We already stated that in order to tackle writing your product development strategy, you have to:
- Be able to explain clearly what your idea is about
- Be completely invested in your idea
- Have a deep understanding of the market, the value, and the competition
Now, let’s imagine you find someone creative with a deep understanding of your market, to whom you delegate the technical specifications and the tasks that follow.
This person might become the product manager much sooner than expected, and with the power to shape and change your project from the beginning.
The biggest risk in this scenario is losing the disruptive and unique aspects of the product, along with your vision of the project. And it can result in an over-polished concept, with nothing to make it stand out.
Keep your ideas yours
You are the secret ingredient for your company’s success! And by following these guidelines, you can put the best of you into your startup efficiently:
- Brainstorm your idea
- Draw your idea
- Ask someone with a technical background or experience, like a CTO, a developer or even MyCTOfriend!
- how easy it would be to build it
- Write down as much information as you can
Startups by definition are creating innovative products and offers, something new. So it means you won’t always know how it works. Start by keeping your feet on the ground and build a strong knowledge of your market.
7 Key components for a great product development strategy
Now, what are the key components of a great product development strategy? Having each of these elements well-defined will guide you through the hiring process, and it will be the blueprint for every member of the technical team. It’s essential to achieve your goals!
Defining your startup business strategy
Everyone should have a good understanding of your business mission, vision, product positioning, competitors, and target audience.
Why does the company exist?
Where does it want to go?
Who we are selling to? What are their needs?
Which are your competitors?
Why is our product different?
Your first homework is building consistent and detailed market analysis, with as much information as possible. Choose the framework you are most comfortable with, which could be a SWOT or Porter’s 5 forces, for example.
Unique selling proposition (USP)
It’s the product promise. This is the perfect sentence that describes what your product will do for the customers. Ideally, it should be something easy to understand and to remember, and very compelling.
That’s what is going to instigate people to know more about it and create a desire for your product.
For example, at MyCTOfriend, we use “MyCTOfriend is the tech Co-pilot that empower founders and CEOs at every stage of their company’s lifecycle!”
You cannot start your own business without a clear understanding of how it’s going to generate revenue, in a scalable way and in the long run. And, in case you’ll look for fundings, investors will want to know how your solution will generate profit.
The Business Model Canva it’s a great framework for that, applying a lean startup methodology and presenting a visual chart of infrastructure, offer, customers, partners, and finance. A must-read for successful entrepreneurs!
Startup planning and roadmap
As things rarely go as planned, especially when it comes to startups, one thing that’s not practical or realistic, is planning your idea to completion in an early-stage.
Life happens, business happens, developers come and go. You might even run into conflict with your co-founder, or even have to change your approach altogether to successfully achieve product-market fit.
We cannot stress enough how efficient the Roadmap is for your product development strategy! It will help you divide your idea process into small stages, and provide a general vision of what the next three to four will look like.
A balanced ecosystem in every stage should be a priority, even if you only have one feature. This will give you a clear overview of your goals and technology development, and a flexible framework to work with.
If you want to know in detail what this process looks like, watch the 9 steps to build a Startup from scratch!
A clearly specified next stage
One thing you should really focus on is having a very specific plan for the next version of your product.
“What’s next?” shouldn’t be an intimidating question with a vague answer, but instead a daily ritual that’s always followed by a detailed and goal-oriented plan.
To keep track of tasks execution and monitor the results, we suggest using the Objectives and Key Results framework (OKR). It will be easier to align objectives, keep the engagement to the goals and the focus!
A vision of the future
In the idea stage, there are infinite possibilities to build a solution, so you need to have a consistent description of the next stages, thinking about the long-term.
Where do you want to go with this product? What’s your vision? These answers will guide you in important tech decisions from the very start, regarding human abilities and business expectations.
For example, if you want Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in the future, you should start writing your solution in Python.
Or, if you want your solution to be huge, and used by millions and millions of users, certain databases will provide a better service at a larger scale, so you should consider changing.
These are some scenarios so you understand what we are talking about when we say the vision of the future, and how it impacts your product development strategy in the short-term.
The customer journey map
Basically, these are all the interactions customers will have with your product, app or solution.
Write down everything from discovery to purchase, and any other possible contact. Make sure to include how you want your customers to feel at every stage of your journey.
An Empathy Map will help you improve your business model canvas, and understand your persona behaviors in different scenarios.
If your customer was about to buy something but he or she didn’t, you might anticipate that he experienced doubt, or may have gotten distracted.
In that case, you can send an email on the next day, addressing those potential feelings and convincing them to continue with their intention.
These are the drawings of each screen. You don’t need to tackle every single possible screen for your app, nor work with costly software. The old pen and paper should do the job explaining what’s on your mind.
Designers and front-end developers will still have a job to do. You’re just making it easier for them to understand your vision, and controlling the process more closely along the way.
Plan and review, then plan again
Now you know all the essentials to build a perfect product development strategy. And though it seems difficult, we are sure with the right tools, instruction, and a positive mindset you can go through with it.
You, as a founder and idea owner, are the best option to write the product development strategy. What makes your product worthwhile is whether people are willing to pay for it, and no one will recognize your startup’s value better than you.
If you are in the process of developing your own startup and don’t know where to start or move on, we have the best news for you!
Our group coaching Prototyping and Specification module will take you through everything and more! Take your GPS Assessment now and find out what we can do to help you grow your business