Modern product development in general, and software product development in particular, have adopted end-to-end development principles, in which the conceptualization, market analysis, requirements specification, design, building, testing, release, and post-release support and maintenance are managed as a single, well-documented, cross-functional project.
The first two stages—conceptualization and market analysis—are the most important, because together they define the scope of the solution and thus all of the subsequent steps. Perhaps even more important, they determine whether a project should be pursued at all.
Conceptualizing a Product
In an end-to-end development environment, the process of conceptualization starts with an idea.
The source of an idea is immaterial; the important thing is that it be fully understood by the product team. Once the idea is understood, the team can proceed with conceptualization, keeping a few key points in mind:
- What need will this product fill? This can be tricky. It’s easy to define the need when users are clamoring for a new product or features; less so when it’s a completely original idea. When Twitter first launched, many people rightfully asked who on Earth would need such a thing. And yet it’s become one of the most important communication channels in the world. Who knew?
- No design yet: At this point you are interested only in what the product needs to do—and only at a high level, with a general list of features and capabilities. Specific requirements come later, and the product design—the how—comes later still. Don’t get ahead of yourself.
- No price points or license models yet: Until the market analysis is done, you don’t know how much, if anything, people will pay for your product, or whether a free, open-source, paid, subscription, ad-supported, or “freemium” model is appropriate for the potential customer base.
- Keep it focused: This is also tricky. You want enough features to maximize the potential customer base, but not so many that you make the design and implementation too complex and time consuming. Keep all ideas on the table, but know that some of them will wait until version 2. Which ones stay and which ones wait will be determined in part by the market analysis.
“Remember that in many new products, up to 60% of features are never used,” says AndPlus Operations Director JD Roger. “Keeping focused and performing careful research will ensure that you’re only building what you need, and only spending money on things that matter.”
- J.D Roger
Operations Manager at AndPlus
- Document, document, document: All discussions regarding a product concept should be documented and available for later reference by all team members. The team should be able to trace all requirements and design decisions back to these concept documents. This limits the inevitable scope creep.
AndPlus and Product Conceptualization
While a product vision may be broad in scope, it is important to focus on the minimum viable product for your first release. This will allow you to get a piece of software into users hands, gain feedback on your product and then continue to develop features that are most important to your users. At AndPlus, we have extensive experience with the end-to-end development process. We understand what it takes to fully flesh out a product concept so that all team members understand the scope and the goals of the project. Bring us your ideas—together we can make them real.