Kodak invented the digital camera way back in 1975. But Kodak did not take this brilliant idea and launch it into the market because they worried about the impact of the digital camera on the film market. So focused was the management on driving the success of their film products that they missed the digital revolution – even after they had kicked it off. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.
The Kodak story is a great example of how missed opportunities or the failure to act on a great idea in a timely fashion can spell disaster. Of course, this is easy. Some have great ideas, identify an opportunity but are forced to take time to launch the idea into the market because they are time or resource-constrained. But why the need for speed?
Great ideas are a dime a dozen. What separates the successful ones from the rest is market acceptance and that, in turn, often depends on the ability to hit the customer before circumstances change. This is crucial especially in the technology space which has become democratic, dynamic, and more complex than ever before owing to a rising global market and changing customer demands.
Here are some points to address when you want to translate your product idea into a full-fledged product and launch a startup in the shortest possible time frame.
Do the groundwork
Usually, it takes time to transform a single line product idea into a full-fledged product by startups because matching ideas to a workable product vision and then into a workable product needs careful planning. It is essential to answer, “who is this product for?” and “what problem will it solve?” to create a granular product design.
Based on these answers, startups have to decide functionalities, features, and user journeys and then create an MVP model. Design sprints can help accelerate the process of MVP definition. Mapping user needs, needs for product scalability and the product evolution plan are essential to make the right technology choices that allow the MVP to GTM fast with the built-in ability to easily scale to a fully functional and robust product later.
Test fast and test often
Insufficient testing is one of the major reasons why products, and consequently, startups get delayed for launch. The later bugs are discovered in the development cycle, the greater the cost and the time taken to mitigate them. Testing is also often sacrificed to release a product fast. This is unwise. The world has no place for slow, bug-prone software products.
Instead of sacrificing testing, it makes more sense to integrate testing into the development process. It is imperative to have a robust test automation plan and complement it with manual testing to deliver a product to market faster. Baking protocols such as product license agreements, certificates of compliance with the top SANS 20 security controls, etc. into the testing suite increases the scope of testing but elevates product robustness without compromising time.
Get UX standards right
A sharp focus on UI and UX is unavoidable. However, it is essential to get the UX right the first time around to avoid delays to ensure that the startup can launch in the desired timeframe.
Getting a deep (and early) understanding of the UX standards, connecting the right UX standard with the product type, and comprehensively assessing user journeys add to the agility to the development process that accelerates the overall speed of development.
While UX has to account for the cosmetic element, it has to focus more deeply on aspects such as end-point security and user journeys. Having an early plan to get these elements in place helps in getting things right the first time around, avoids reworks, and essentially aids the go-to-market.
Being process-oriented and having a precise and well-defined plan is essential when you want to launch a startup fast. In the context of the product offering, this helps in the clear prioritization of features and functionalities and the resource and time requirements.
Having a well-defined process also means that you’ll not spend time taking one step forward and then two steps back. For example, knowing exactly how the functionalities should behave can help you make the right technology choices the first time around. You can decide which architecture serves you best instead of adopting one and then realizing later that it is the cause of all woes.
I believe in the philosophy that sometimes you need to slow down to move fast. Fine-tuning the development and delivery process to gain clarity increases the speed of development in the end.
Take advantage of expert technology partners
Launching a tech-startup can be challenging because you are always trying to do more with less – fewer workers and usually less knowledge. There are a variety of technology choices out there, but the shelf life of technology is also reducing drastically. You need access to skilled engineers and developers with the right technical dexterity and experience with technology to make the right technology choices and accelerate the speed of development. It is easy to see that there are contradictory forces at play.
Complementing the in-house team with external technology partners, or nearshoring certain parts of development (if not the entire product) can be greatly advantageous when you want to launch fast. By leveraging innovative models like Build-as-a-Service (BaaS), technology partners can also help you keep your technical debt under check -a sure time-saver in the long run. These resources can help create the right product design, map features and functionalities adroitly, and avoid code rot and spaghetti code that can impact product performance. Technology partners can give the product idea a clear structure to ensure that not only does the product launches fast, but that it sticks.
Technology partners can also expose startups to practices and methodologies like design thinking. This approach helps in making ground-breaking discoveries and help in redefining problems and coming up with creative, well-defined, and better solutions faster.
Software product development has reached an inflection point where it needs the ‘as a service’ shakeup. This means that whether you want to launch a product in the market in six weeks or six months, you have to adopt a holistic approach to product development and integrate people, processes, and technology seamlessly to develop cutting-edge technology solutions built with evolution in mind. Collaboration and communication have to take center stage in this world of work to drive better and timely outcomes.
This approach helps in developing products in time for launch and also ensures that these products are ready for evolution to meet the needs of a dynamic market. And all that could happen in as short a period as 6 weeks!