Part of course:
The Product Development Process
- Determining the product's future
The product development process is comprised of seven phases:
The first four steps in the process are pre-launch whereas the final three take place during and after launch. This article will walk you through each of the phases to help you become better oriented with the product development process, identify the stage your product is currently in, and help you plan subsequent stages.
Conception is the first phase of the product development process. While the conception phase certainly entails getting a team together to work on a product, the most important activity during the conception phase is deciding on what exactly it is that we want to build. In order to do so, we usually focus our efforts on two tasks:
Most of the ideas during the conception phase — for both the tasks above — usually come from within the team.
The planning phase entails the following:
Having made our roadmap and jotted down the list of features durring the planning phase, we now move on to the third phase — development. During this phase we work closely with the development team to bring our ideas to life in the form of a minimum viable product, or MVP, which can then be used to gather customer feedback on our solution. This step entails the following:
It is really important to carve out adequate time to work on each of these tasks because we have to stick to the plan until we start receiving user feedback on our MVP; changing the development plan mid-way is usually counterproductive and can lead to prolonged periods of blind development — periods during which actionable insights from the field are few and far between.
Having developed the MVP, we take it out to our target customer group and gather feedback. If you've ever tried a product alpha or beta, you've been exposed to products in their iteration phase. The activities undertaken during this phase are:
Once we are satisfied with the state of the product following various iterations and extensive testing, we can move on to planning its public launch.
The launch process involves the following:
This is the phase of the product that immediately follows the public launch of the product. During this phase we have to use all the feedback we have gathered to determine the future trajectory of product development — maintaining the current state or iterating through more versions of the product. If we come to the conclusion that the product requires more iterations, we have to:
If we are maintaining the steady-state, then we have to:
Having reached a steady-state in the development of the product, we have to determine whether to continue servicing the product. This question can be answered by thinking of the following questions:
Your answers to each of these questions can determine whether you want to continue supporting the product in the near future. If not, you should start thinking about your “sunset strategy” — messaging current users, allowing them to retrieve their data, etc.
These are the seven stages any product eventually goes through. The best product managers are able to master and shepherd products through these seven stages. Hopefully now you will be able to identify and understand what needs to be done at each of these seven stages.