Intro to Product and Software Development and Product Management (part 4 – launch and beyond)

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You’ve finally made it! You’re ready to launch your product – but what does that mean? In the last article of this series on product development, software development and product management, I’ll talk about the “Implementation” and “Launch” phases. If you missed the other parts in this series, you can find part one (intro) – here, part two (beginning) – here, and part three (building) – here.

Product Development

In the “Launch” phase of product development, you introduce your product to the world. You execute the launch activities that you prepared during the “Develop” phase and your product is now ready for people to use.

 A few weeks after your launch, you should perform a review of your project to see what learnings can be gained. This will allow you to improve your product development processes as you continue to grow and enhance your product. From a product development point of view, you’re done for now and the product management part kicks in.

Software Development

“Implementation” is about installing your app wherever it needs to go (e.g. making it available on the App store or Google Play store, installing the code on the host, etc). Your developers will also tidy up their work so that they're ready for the next project.

There are situations where you may choose to not make your app available to people right away.  This might happen when you break down a technical project into multiple parts and spread out the delivery over several phases.  Alternatively, you might complete the implementation but delays to your marketing or other launch activities may prevent you from making your app available.

Once the app has been launched (a.k.a “gone live” or “in production”), your technical team should be around to support it in case something goes wrong. You’ll need to spend some time defining some processes around this so that everyone’s expectations are clear on what needs to be done.

Product Management

Finally, the product management component comes into play!  Now that your product has been launched, you start to manage it through its lifecycle. Initially, you focus on the "Introduction" phase.

Notice that things start slowly – don’t expect a big rush of sales on Day 1! This is where you wear your marketing and sales hats to make people aware of your product and to build their trust in your business. Ideally, you’ll do some prelaunch activities to start the awareness process.  You might leverage your email lists and social media platforms to get your first customers. When you’re a team of one, creating awareness takes time, and often some money, as you don’t have a team of people to help with all of the work.

After your initial sales, you’ll be monitoring the progress of your marketing and sales activities, getting feedback from customers and looking to get yourself to the “Growth” stage. This (most likely) will include adding more features and functionality to your app. This is where the product development and software development processes kick in again. First, you talk to your customers, watch competitors and research the market to see where changes need to be made (ideation). You then decide which ideas to pursue (analyse). Next, you document what you want build (define and requirements) and you build the changes (develop, design, build and test).  Finally, you make the changes available to your customers (launch and implement). This development cycle is ongoing – so be prepared to continually invest in your product. 

In the “Growth” phase, you’ll often see a lot of sales without having to invest a lot of money in marketing, sales and new app changes. Eventually though, this high-growth stage ends and you hit the “Maturity” phase where your sales will level out. You can choose to extend the Growth stage by looking for different ways to enhance your product. Alternatively, you can also look at targeting new customer segments or add features and functions that generate revenue from an entirely different source. You may also decide that you don’t want to continue to invest in the product and look to sell it.

Eventually though, all products make it to Maturity and into “Decline”. Decline is where sales start falling off and your product starts becoming less profitable. During Decline, you look at how to manage your exit from the product and even remove it from the market.

Wrap Up...

So there you have it – this is the end of my 4-part series on product development, software development and product management. I hope it’s given you a good overview of what is involved in building a web platform or mobile app.

Don’t worry if it all sounds a little overwhelming – you’re just getting started! You didn’t just wake up one morning and start walking – it took some time to get there. Think of building your web platform or mobile app in the same way – take it one step and at a time and you’ll find yourself learning as you go.  

If you have questions about this series, then please leave them in the comments below.

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