Define the Product - A Critical Precursor for Digital Startups
Got a cool idea for a web or mobile app? Looking to change the world with a new spin on an established social app? Great, we celebrate your innovation and ambition. No kidding, we love entrepreneurs and enjoy being a part of something new and transformative. But before you invest time and treasure into the application, cool your jets for a moment and take a step back.
Now might be a time to ask some basic questions. Your top of mind first question will most likely be: How much will it cost? And we, as your project team, will have an antecedent question: What exactly would you like to do?
It seems obvious that an accurate answer to the first question is dependent on the second. However, in the domain of software development, this is not always well understood. We are often asked to estimate project cost before a project has been properly defined.
So what to do?
A “design and scoping” engagement for new projects can help define what we are going to build. In this important step we can nail down the scope by identifying the required functionality and user experience. This can often be accomplished via “high-fidelity” mockups that represent as best possible what the actual app will look like when completed.
As part of this process, there will be a good chunk of time dedicated to dialogue between the client and the product team. The goal of the product team should be to peel back as many layers as possible about the vision of the client, the functional goals and uncover possible edge cases.
Then, “high-fidelity” mockups can be created that typically have the stylistic elements of the user interface and should look a lot like the delivered end product. It’s also possible to have many of the functional elements represented in the mockup. These mockups will serve as a development and design blueprint that defines the project scope. When a developer is able to reference this blueprint any upfront confusion or questions can be addressed well before development begins. This prevents costly false starts and deadends during subsequent steps.
The mockup also helps to produce an accurate estimate of project costs. In a subsequent post I will discuss some of the challenges and best practices of software cost estimation.
Take a look here.