Optimal Product Process™ 3.0 Phase Three: Develop

This post describes the third phase in the Optimal Product Process: Develop. Download the entire Optimal Product Process E-Book 3.0: CLICK HERE

Using a great plan (whether an Agile backlog with sprint priorities assigned or a more formal plan) the agreed upon product is then developed. Feature and schedule tradeoffs are made. Technical feasibility may be assessed – if certain critical features are not possible the product may be delayed or cancelled altogether. In either case, the team moves forward with creating a product that will be “above the bar” in terms of what must be delivered to customers in order to succeed and achieve the company’s profitability and/or strategic goals.

Unlocking the secrets of the product development trade-off triangle

Product development features a well-known concept called the development trade-off triangle. The idea is that you can aim for two vertices of the triangle, but three is usually unattainable. If you want more features and you want to keep the schedule fixed, you need to lower quality. If you want more features, and want to keep quality fixed, you have to increase the amount of time for development and slip your schedule. And if you want to shrink the schedule, you have to give up scope or quality.

The bottom line in terms of the triangle is that no set formula exists for making these trade-offs. Making a decision on what to give up is highly dependent on your product’s situation. You as the product manager have to constantly monitor the team’s progress, get feedback from your testers and the competitive environment, field pressure from your management, and account for other factors; and make the most informed choice you can.

Best practices and tips to keep you as effective as possible during this phase

Make sure you’re easily accessible and available to your team

Often, decisions need to be made rapidly; if the team members can’t ask your opinion, they may proceed with whatever they think is best.

Continue to monitor the market, competition, and other factors

Communicate what’s going on with customers and the overall market to your team so that they view you as the de facto expert and are able to make the best product decisions. Update your strategy and plans accordingly.

Whenever possible, use data in all your decisions and communications

Engineers love data and logical decisions, so make sure they understand where your decisions and opinions are coming from.

Resist the temptation to cry wolf

Save your requests for times when changes are mission-critical. Give thorough explanations to your team if changes need to be made so that team members know that when you ask, it really matters.

Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to get the product out at all costs

It may be tempting as you near the end of development and everyone on the team is tired, but don’t do it. If your product isn’t good enough, you may cause irreparable harm to your product and brand reputation.

Overview of the Develop Phase

Key Tasks

Solidify any development plans that remain uncertain. Develop a final feature list, finish the beta testing plan, adjust plan as issues arise in development to make sure that a valuable, customer-oriented product is the outcome.

Key Deliverables

Product Manager: beta plan. Engineering, quality assurance, support, service, operations, marketing and many other departments have a long list of deliverables that are provided to the rest of the company so that everyone is ready to support and sell the product at launch.

Core Skills

Working with engineering, influencing other groups, team leadership, negotiation

Decision at The Gate

Agree that the product is ready for beta testing with real customers

Download The Optimal Product Process E-Book 3.0

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This book describes the seven phases of the Optimal Product Process: Conceive, Plan, Develop, Qualify, Launch, Maximize and Retire. It also covers the roles, responsibilities, tasks and documents associated with each phase. The Optimal Product Process is built on the worldwide-standard Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM) seven-phase framework. The seven-phase framework defines the Product Lifecycle’s seven phases and corresponding tasks that every product or service encounters from conceive to end-of-life.

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