In my last post, I introduced you to the concepts of product management, product development and software development. In this post, I want to bring it all together and explain what it means to a non-technical person starting on their app development journey. This all might seem a little daunting, so for now, here’s what you need to know:
“Ideation” and “Analyse” are the most important parts of product development. In these phases, you need to be able to come up with an idea and see if it’s worth building:
There are lots of different ways to come up with ideas for an app - but most usually come from personal experience - either at work or outside of work. Look for problems in your day-to-day life that might need solving. Maybe it's something in your industry or something in your job role. Maybe it's something at home, while travelling, parenting - the possibilities are endless!
After you have an idea, you want to make sure it's the right one to pursue. What makes you the right person to build this app? Where might you need help? How big is the market? What's the competitions like? There are lots of ways to evaluate your idea. If you don’t validate your idea, then the rest of the process is really irrelevant. Validating an idea is about making sure you don’t want to waste your time and money on building an app that doesn’t allow you to achieve your goals.
The product development process has natural “gates” that give you permission to stop what you’re doing and to go onto the next idea. If you don’t think your idea is good enough, keep repeating the “Ideation” phase until you have an idea that is more desirable. In the “Analyse” phase, if the idea doesn’t pass your validation criteria, you go back to the “Ideation” phase.
To learn more about idea validation
If you’ve decided to go ahead with developing your idea, you’ll then need to “Define” your product. This is about writing down what you want your product to do. This is an important process because it dictates how your product will end up! Spend some time here really understanding the processes that people will go through, what you want them to do, what they’ll want to do and what information needs to be captured and stored. Also, consider all of the processes that might be involved in running your app – for example, how will people contact you if there is an issue? How will you respond to them? etc.
The “Requirements” phase of software development overlaps with the “Define” phase of product development, so your defined product also forms the basis for the Requirements phase. The Requirements phase in software development will focus on the actual app being built; whereas the Define phase will look at everything that's need to deliver and run the product.
This phase is about telling people about what you want build – which makes it pretty important! If you can’t articulate what your product should do, then you might end up with something that is vastly different from what you expect. You’ll then spend a lot of time and money trying to make it right.
Developers use the information that you provide about your product to estimate the cost of building it. This means that you want to be very clear about what you want your app to do. A lot of projects end up costing more money and take more time to complete because new things come up later in the project.
Your product hasn’t been built yet, so the elements of managing the product through its lifecycle don’t come into play yet. However, you’ll want to start thinking about who your first users will be as you enter the next stages of building your product.
What happens next?
After you’ve figured out what your product needs to do, it’s time for you to start building. In our next article, we’ll look at getting your app designed and built.