Agile product discovery, development and deployment

Before starting an assignment of transitioning a large product team of a global product company, I wanted to know Why they are doing it?. Though they were hesitant initially, they obliged by my persuasion skills. Aby, this large team of engineers worked on a product for more than a year before they found out that there was no business potential. A transparent system which supports fast failures would have helped us to save millions.

Every product starts as an idea and at the same time, there are lots of uncertainties clouding around that idea. Is this solution the best to solve the problem?. Will the funds last till the completion?. What about the market acceptance of the product?. Will it generate enough money to survive?, Is this technically feasible?. Who will develop it?. How will I engage with the development team when I do not have sufficient clarity?> There are a myriad of questions passing through every product manager’s mind throughout product development.

All these uncertainties are product risks and must be managed as fast as possible, else the product will fall into the orphaned product category, which is very depressing. One must not rush to really developing the product, even if your instincts and surroundings push you to start development quickly. I strongly recommend your product idea to iterate through the three phases of successful product development.

The three phases of successful product development

  • Discovery – Are we building the right product?
  • Development – Are we building the product correctly?
  • Deployment – Are we deploying it correctly?

Product Discovery

All successful products have solved some valid problems or helped to leverage opportunities. As the product evolves, we gain more insights which triggers continuous discovery of the product till we hit the tipping point of market acceptability. In the worst scenario, you will realize that your product idea is not a viable one, before investing too much on to it. True agile teams celebrate fast failures as success. They learn from fast failures and bring that learning back to the product. Building the right product is a journey of discovery. For that matter, even writing an article like this is a journey. Very often, what I felt as good today, I rewrite tomorrow.

I do not dare to call product discovery as a phase, because there is no end point to it. During the discovery process, after some ups and downs either your product idea will sustain with more vigor, or it will pivot into something more viable, or it will get shelved.

All the three scenarios are good. The first two will make your product idea sustainable where as the third one will protect you from major loss of money and effort.

Product development

Which agile framework to use?

Should I go for agile in every project?. This question I have answered several times during my agile workshops. Any project where the requirements are evolving and the technology is also changing rapidly, agile is the best. Hence, agile methods are best suited for product development. Of all the agile methods, I strongly recommend Scrum for small and medium sized products. For huge products where hundreds of professionals are working from different locations, then Scaled Agile is the option.

Which tool to use?

If the team is co-located then I always prefer white boards and sticky notes. In the case of distributed teams, Jira is a safe bet.

How to mobilize the team quickly?

It depends on how you are planning to develop the product. If you already have a team in place, then that is the best, provided you are willing to invest on them for inculcating the agile mindset through proper training and mentoring . Even though it is expensive than outsourcing product development work to other locations, it has lot of benefits derived out of co-location.

The other option is to outsource the work to agile ready teams, bound by agile contracting. Working with a remote team has it’s own disadvantages and advantages. Lack of professional ethics, lack of transparency, lack of capability, frequent changes in scope, communication gaps, cultural differences, frequent travels are some of them. I will explain the key risks associated with agile product development and how to overcome these risks in another post.

If you are seriously considering to outsource your product development work to India, we will be able to guide you to the right team. We will connect you you to the right agile ready teams coached and mentored by us. We can even work as your proxy product manager / scrum master throughout the development phase. If you are considering it as a good option to outsource to India and still lack of familiarity is bothering you then Contact us

Product deployment

Many still think that product deployment happens after the complete development. The problem with this is the loss of opportunity to get market feedback, which is essential to make a good product into a great product. As soon as the minimum viable product (MVP) is ready, the deployments must start. The frequency of deployments can range from monthly deployments to continuous deployments or anything in between as decided by you the product owner and the development team.

The ten principles of building great products