More than 70% of organizations struggle to complete their software development projects on time and budget. It’s not surprising when you consider the high number of software development failures. The average cost overrun for large IT projects is 45% and more than half deliver less value than predicted — and that’s before you get products to market.

Effective software product strategy requires a comprehensive approach, starting with aligning your goals and developing an agile product development roadmap.

Aligning Development Strategies with Product Goals

You must ensure your software development directly ties to your product strategy and vision. This means having clear alignment on core items, such as:

  • Business objectives
  • Target users
  • Use cases
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Product roadmaps
  • Development cycles

Lacking this level of alignment is a common pitfall that causes delays, cost overruns, and products that miss the mark for customers. It also helps avoid scope creep by keeping product strategy focused on core goals.

While this seems like a basic building block considering the costs of product failure, it’s surprising how many companies shortcut this product in a rush to market and make costly mistakes. According to Professor Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School, 95% of new products fail. The lesson? Don’t skimp on the planning and alignment.

Exploring Agile Development Methodologies

Modern software teams typically leverage agile development principles to build products iteratively and incorporate user feedback. Methodologies like Scrum emphasize breaking projects into small, rapid cycles of development, testing, and refinement. This allows developers to gather learnings early, adapt quickly, and provide value faster without getting bogged down in rigid, long-term plans.

The flexibility of agile is key as teams uncover changing customer needs or technical challenges while delivering software projects on time.

Core principles and values include:

  • Customer satisfaction: Agile teams focus on delivering working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. This allows customers to provide feedback early and enables teams to adapt quickly.
  • Accommodate changing requirements: Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage. They welcome changing requirements even late in development.
  • Frequent delivery of working software: Agile teams prefer to deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for shortened timeframes.
  • Collaboration between self-organizing teams: Business stakeholders and developers must work together daily throughout the project. This communication and collaboration leads to better outcomes.
  • Support, trust, and motivate individuals: Self-organization and motivation are important for teams. Agile teams give individuals the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.
  • Face-to-face conversation: No matter what specific agile framework is used, agile teams favor face-to-face communication over written documents.
  • Working software as a primary measure of progress: Delivering functional software and frequent reviews with stakeholders is the primary measure of progress in agile development.
  • Maintain a consistent pace indefinitely: Agile teams work at a sustainable pace to avoid burnout, compromise quality, and increase predictability.

More than 70% of companies now use agile strategies for continuous improvement. According to the Project Management Institute, agile projects deliver significantly higher value with fewer headaches.

Implementing Lean Startup Principles

Like agile, the Lean Startup model aims to improve efficiency and value, but agile focuses mainly on efficient software delivery. Both philosophies test product ideas early via minimum viable products (MVPs) and experiments. This data-driven approach centers around making assumptions about a product, quickly building prototypes to test them, and using the results to either persevere or pivot as needed.

Applying Lean Startup thinking equips teams to validate concepts before over-investing and steering products in directions that resonate in the real world. While there is significant overlap with agile methodologies, the core principles of lean startup methodology in product strategy include:

  1. Build-Measure-Learn: The fundamental activity loop at the heart of Lean Startup. Teams quickly build minimum viable products (MVPs) to test key assumptions, measure how target customers respond, and learn whether to change or stay the course.
  2. Validated Learning: Lean Startup focuses on experimentally validating whether product hypotheses and business models actually work in practice before scaling. This reduces overall risk and waste.
  3. Innovation Accounting: Teams adopt new metrics and measurement methodologies to assess their accountability towards business viability goals instead of just output. Key innovation metrics include actionable metrics like customer acquisition cost, churn rate, revenue growth, etc.
  4. Continuous Deployment: To accelerate the Build-Measure-Learn loop, teams invest in automated infrastructure and processes that allow continuous deployment of iterative product releases to customers to collect feedback.
  5. Minimum Viable Products (MVPs): Teams identify the critical assumptions and features needed to test products and value propositions early and build the simplest versions first. MVPs target learning over scale.
  6. Pivot or Persevere: Based on measured results from MVPs and experiments, teams either rapidly shift course (pivot) or push forward (persevere) towards finding product-market fit. Structured course correction is expected.

This ability to pivot when needed is crucial to rapid development cycles, especially for startups looking to attract funding or generate revenue quickly.

Maximizing Efficiency and Transparency

To complement iterative development, teams should also emphasize maximizing efficiency in their software delivery lifecycle. This means investing in test automation, continuous integration/delivery pipelines, infrastructure automation, and other capabilities to remove dependencies and delays. Ascendle can show you how to do this effectively.

Providing transparency via issue tracking, project management systems, and analytics dashboards is also key. This allows all stakeholders — both technical and non-technical — to have clear visibility into release progress and results.

Measuring Success: Key Metrics for Software Product Development

The only way to objectively assess product success is by measuring it.

Simply completing releases or outputting features does not guarantee you’re delivering actual value.

KPIs should be tied back to business goals early on and the development process should include mechanisms to capture the right data. Example metrics include:

  • User adoption and retention rates
  • Quality and defect rates
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter (NPS) scores
  • Time to market for feature delivery (release velocity)
  • Revenue goals

Software Development With Ascendle

Ascendle’s team of product strategy, mobile app development, web app development, and platform development experts help you build better products. With Ascendle, you get practical use strategies to maximize your ROI, transparency in goal attainment, effective and efficient software delivery, and Go-to-Market strategies to help ensure product success.

Contact our team today to deliver with speed, quality, and predictability.

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