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Last updated: 25/3/2023
🚛 Let's simplify the product development process.
"Typical product development lifecycle" - what the world has taught us:
Remember the "Waterfall Model" from the good old days?
Since then product development lifecycle has evolved so much with the introduction of Agile and Design Thinking methodologies putting the user and their pain points first.
But let's be honest, we as first-time founders bootstrapping our business, do not have enough money, time and resources to go in the way of what is called "Enterprise-level" to build and launch our product.
We’re not going to lie - building a great product requires a balance of good ideas, hustle, a realistic approach paired with visionary thinking, a great team, and a little bit of luck.
Here is the LEAN version of the MVP Development process that addresses customers' problems and generates immediate value. You can also generate revenue for the alpha version to add all the bells and whistles (features) further down in your development process and offer a more mature and sophisticated solution to the identified problem.
Let's approach in a phased manner.
Phase-4: Learn to Iterate
The LEAN MVP Building process
Remember the goal again is to build a "Minimum Lovable Product"
*** Tools and resources to assist you to "get there" ***
Phase-1: Learn - WTF are we Building!
1. Know your customers and their problems
Start by scheduling interviews with your target customers. Ask them four fundamental questions:
1. What do they want?
2. What are their problems?
3. What are they currently doing to solve those problems?
4. How do they imagine their life improving with a better solution?
Customer Interview Script Generator - Customer Development Labs
Updated] July 18, 2018Here's an example: Use this template... As a starting point. Add & edit questions as necessary. As a place to store the notes from your interviews. To share with your teammates so you're all asking the same questions.
The Ultimate List of Customer Development Questions
I've had a few requests for this post. I've compiled all of my favorite customer development questions into one place! I'm sure I've missed some great questions. Please let me know your favorites in the comments sections and I'll continually update this post.
B2B Customer Discovery Interview Questions for B2B Entrepreneurs
For the writing of Lean B2B, I consolidated all the questions B2B entrepreneurs need to answer during the problem interview phase when doing early B2B customer discovery. It's important to have a plan and follow an interview script to gather consistent data points on all your prospects (you can read more on customer interview code of conduct here).
26 Resources to Help You Master Customer Development Interviews
I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want my team to just do your marketing for you, click here. "Get out of the building!" How many times have you heard lean startup evangelists say that? Steve Blank often comments "There are no facts inside your building."
2. Prioritise problems and map out different solutions
Set up principles driven by the identified problems. These principles will enable you to stay focused on your solution and not be dragged by the fancy stuff around.
Design Principles FTW
05 Jan 2021 Try out Random Design Principle! It's a site that gives you a random principle from our vast collection. It's a great way of exploring different principles and to get inspired to dig deeper. Try at randomdesignprinciple.com
Prioritise your features using the RICE framework. Feature prioritization is a crucial component as well as shedding light on what features your product team will prioritize in the MVP. Basically, the minimum viable product is what your early adopters will get and test.
RICE Prioritization Framework for Product Managers [+Examples]
Prioritization is a perennial challenge when building a product roadmap. How do you decide what to work on first? If you've put the effort into brainstorming new ideas, finding opportunities for improvement, and collecting feedback, you'll have a solid product roadmap full of good ideas.
Prioritization & Roadmapping Tool | airfocus
Stay updated with product development and launch activities all from one place. Integrate easily with planning tools like Jira, Trello, Microsoft Planner, Azure DevOps, GitHub, Clubhouse, Asana and so much more.
3. Define your MVP and set a milestone
Minimum viable product refers to the basic core features that create immediate value for your user with minimal costs on your end.
Start with a cupcake | Inside Intercom
The quicker you can get feedback on what you're thinking the better your idea will be. Usage is oxygen for ideas. The above drawing is adapted from a Peter Merholz presentation, and shows two ways to plan out baking a wedding cake.
How to really define an MVP
MVP is one of the terms that seems to generate a lot of traction during an Agile transformation. It seems people are happy about trying to do 'just enough' to accomplish a goal. But, for companies with a fixed mindset the term can get quickly abused.
Also, get the Business Model and pricing strategy done. This is put you in a great position before your start building. Determine your budget and don't forget to take the time considered to build into consideration. You as a founder are responsible for the financial health of your business. remember most products take between 6 - 24 weeks to build depending upon the complexity and the problem you are solving.
The Cost of Building MVP for Startups [from Scratch] | SpdLoad
Bringing your vision to life is the best thing that can happen to you. And when it comes to financial benefits, that is like a cherry on the cake. There are many of us who are unable to bring our ideas to life just because of some bad mistakes we made in the beginning.
Phase-2: Build - Let's lay the foundation for a great business!
4. Gather your team and understand their skillsets
Communicate your vision of solving this great problem or a job to be done by building your amazing startup.
Old but Gold:
5 Stages of Team Development
Business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs are often viewed as team leaders. If something fails, you may blame yourself. If it succeeds, you'll receive the praise. Whether you are leading your entire company or a smaller project group, you have a huge influence on team development and performance.
- Role expectations - clearly define roles and responsibilities
- Psychological safety - your team and you can achieve more
- Health check - check-in daily with your team and be their "big brother" or "supportive sister" not their boss
5. Brainstorm solutions with your team and finalise your build
Get all the documents and processes right;
- Usability testing
- Product requirements documents
- Roadmap for next 12-18 months
Round-Robin Brainstorming: Allowing Everyone to Contribute
Imagine that you've gathered your team together for a much-needed brainstorming session, focusing on the most effective way to market your organization's next product release. Bill, the most talkative and forceful member of your team, immediately asserts that TV and online media are the best platforms to use.
6. Onboarding Flows
Our friends at onboarding.study put together amazing resources to understand, analyse and implement how 200+ SaaS companies use onboarding to have better adoption and retention rates. Learn more 👇
220+ User Onboarding Examples - Onboarding Study
Do you want to optimize user onboarding processes for your SaaS business? Come up with new ideas that will drive user activation? Or learn how others do it? Browse through the best product onboarding examples and gather inspiration for your project.
And more on in-app onboarding tactics;
Learn user onboarding - Onboarding Study
Learn how each of the UI elements fits into the whole picture and discover tactics used by the best performing SaaS products out there. Understand the basics and build solid foundations for creating your own onboarding strategies. See what analyses you can carry out (and how) to define the key actions you want new users to take.
7. Get pilot partners / paying customers organised
Reach out to the people you interviewed during your customer and problem discovery. Ask them to try out your solution and set up your feedback loop.
How to Price Your Minimum Viable Product
Let's talk about how much you should charge customers for something when you're not totally sure what that thing is yet. A startup has to get its pricing right or the product will be dead at launch. The problem is, there aren't a lot of hard and fast rules for pricing a brand new product.
Customer Focused Sales - Table of Contents
We outline how salespeople can differentiate themselves and their offerings by directly appealing to customer needs, steering away from the delivery of one-way presentations and toward having mutual, goal-oriented discussions that lead to optimal solutions for the customer. Chapter 1 - What Is Customer-Focused Behavior?
Phase-3: Launch - It's the next level!
8. Define your delivery plan and success criteria
Three core qualifications for any product:
- The first value (measured through activation)
- Consistent value (measured through usage retention)
- Commercial value (measured through revenue)
The Definitive Guide to Project Success Criteria * Girl's Guide to Project Management
I get asked about project success criteria a lot - in fact, it's one of the most searched terms on this site. So I thought it was about time that I pooled all my resources into one definitive guide to project success criteria. Let's start with a definition of project success criteria.
How to create simple, powerful project plans | Team Central
What is a project plan? A project plan is the outcome of the project planning process, where a project manager decides, prioritizes, and assigns the tasks and resources necessary to complete a project. Project plans will name the members of a team, what tools and materials are needed, and what steps must be taken to achieve success.
9. Organise your workflow and go-to-market strategy
Since building products requires a lot of flexibility, fine-tuning and constant communication, it is incredibly important to find the right tools that will keep your workflow on the same page at all times.
Product Launch Checklist:
What is a good product launch checklist?
Feature definition: Ensure that engineering teams have all the prioritization, sizing, and documentation needed to start building. UX / UI design: Provide designers with the UX research, wireframes, and specifications needed to start crafting. Engineering: Build the key features, most likely in a series of sprints.
We recommend you have product planning software in place to track literally every step of your product and company building.
Product Roadmap Software | ProductPlan
ProductPlan is a roadmap platform that aligns your team so you can build what matters. Create custom roadmaps in just a few clicks. Share unlimited roadmaps to keep the team in sync. Empower your team to make the right strategic decisions. Prioritize initiatives that support your company's objectives.
Process for Developing a Go-to-Market Strategy:
9 Steps to Build a Go To Market Strategy (Framework and Examples) | Planio
It's probably safe to say that every company wants to grow. Yet while growth can come from wildly different sources, they all share one quality: Without a solid strategy, you're going to spend a lot of time spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere. Nowhere is this more true than when you...
The Proven Process for Developing a Go-to-Market Strategy
When you're unveiling a new product, the last thing you want is to launch it without a proper go-to-market (GTM) strategy. Without proper planning, it's impossible to know if you're chasing the wrong audience, are too early or too late to a given market, or targeting a market that's too saturated with similar solutions - and you don't want to run the risk of wasting time and resources on launching an unprofitable product.
The moment! Look back at what you and your team have achieved. Build relationships with your first customers aka Early Adopters.
Kat Mañalac - How to Launch (Again and Again)
YC Partner Kat Mañalac presents on how startups should think about launching and why you should do it repeatedly.Transcript and lecture slides here: https://...
Building and launching, the indie way
Business Validation: How to Presell a Product
"Really ensure that you're not playing business. A lot of people, what they do is they read an article on Tim [Ferriss]'s site, and then they're like, 'Well, I put up a thing on Craigslist and I bought ads.' But what's your actual business?" How long should it take to get your first sale?
Note: Not recommended if you are building in stealth
This should give you a basic idea to get some traction. Obviously, have your magic touch!
Phase-4: Learn to Iterate - We are all eyes and ears!
11. Post-Launch Metrics Evaluation
Back to the board to learn what went well and where can your product improve. get all your post-launch analytics and key metrics organised.
Ensure product launch success by utilizing the post-launch stage
As product marketing managers (PMMs), I am sure when you hear the words "product launch", it automatically rings a bell. It reminds you of all the excitement and effort that accompanies you when trying to bring a product into the market.
Post Launch Analytics:
We as founders are always in iterative mode.
Build - Measure - Learn feedback Loop
The Build-Measure-Learn Feedback Loop: Creating Real Value by Testing Ideas
In a flash of inspiration, one of your team members has come up with a dazzling idea for a new customer service product. It's fun and innovative, and you know that it's got the potential to make your life easier. In your excitement, you feel certain that other people are going to love it just as much as you do.
3 common mistakes most founders fo when building their MVPs
1. Building an MVP without understanding your startup's Unique Value Proposition.
If the app you are building is 'another Uber' with no clear point of difference, it's going to be virtually impossible to convince the market to ditch Uber to use your app. Your UVP (unique value proposition) is the problem you are trying to solve. Your MVP is your proof that you can solve it. Your UVP will be your key marketing message to attract users to your app.
2. Spending too much time and money on building your MVP
Keep version 1.0 of your product simple. A mistake we see all the time is founders spending too much time, effort and money building lots of bells and whistles on their MVP. If the feature/ functionality is not a core part of your UVP it may be a good idea to cut it from your base model design. You should iterate your product based on customer feedback and data and not your own assumptions/bias.
3. Custom building everything
There is a lot of awesome third-party software out there ready to be leveraged by our founders. Don’t spend excess time, effort and money building your own payment gateways, calendar bookings and database management systems. Integrate your MVP with Stripe, Calendly, Airtable or whatever third-party software you can use to make your MVP a reality. You will save a lot of development time and money and will also provide your users with a more stable, bug-free experience.
- 🚛 Let's simplify the product development process.
- "Typical product development lifecycle" - what the world has taught us:
- The LEAN MVP Building process
- Phase-1: Learn - WTF are we Building!
- 1. Know your customers and their problems
- 2. Prioritise problems and map out different solutions
- 3. Define your MVP and set a milestone
- Phase-2: Build - Let's lay the foundation for a great business!
- 4. Gather your team and understand their skillsets
- 5. Brainstorm solutions with your team and finalise your build
- 6. Onboarding Flows
- 7. Get pilot partners / paying customers organised
- Phase-3: Launch - It's the next level!
- 8. Define your delivery plan and success criteria
- 9. Organise your workflow and go-to-market strategy
- 10. Launch!
- Building and launching, the indie way
- Phase-4: Learn to Iterate - We are all eyes and ears!
- 11. Post-Launch Metrics Evaluation
- 3 common mistakes most founders fo when building their MVPs
- 1. Building an MVP without understanding your startup's Unique Value Proposition.
- 2. Spending too much time and money on building your MVP
- 3. Custom building everything