Without any loss of generality, it can be fairly stated that Product Development entails a product’s entire journey and involves bringing a product from the conceptual stages through market release and beyond.
While there might be many paths to this journey, depending on different organizations, there are some common stages through which products typically progress.
These stages can be broadly stated as Identifying the market need, Conceptualising the product for that opportunity, Validating the solution, Formulating the product roadmap, Developing a minimum viable product (MVP), and releasing it to the users, followed by multiple iterations driven by user-generated feedback as well as future goals.
It has also been seen that many firms essentially view the term “product development” as a placeholder for the implementation team, consisting mainly of developers, engineers, and possibly quality assurance.
But a more advanced and modern perspective might see it encompassing everyone involved from idea generation through to customer delivery. This is mainly because each of the aforementioned groups plays a pivotal role in the workflow, which goes through defining, designing, building, testing, or delivering the product.
On that note, let’s now demarcate the major roles that team up to make Product Development possible.
Top Roles in Product Development
With the age of innovation thriving at its peak, product development jobs are cropping up at a dramatic pace. The need for smart product developers who can shape and mold their ways to fabricate future-ready solutions is at an all-time high.
But there’s much more to developing a product than what meets the eye. The product development methodology requires specialists scattered over different skillsets to make relevant contributions. And the following roles – each marked by a DRI or Directly Responsible Individual – make up for the backbone of any product we see or are yet to use.
As easy as it might seem from the outset, formulating the strategy of building a leapfrog product rather than an iterative can be a tedious task. It forms the foundation stone for building the right thing at the right time and creating a product that stands at least 10x better than the market competition it is up against.
Strategy can well be regarded as the least trainable part of product development, and that is primarily because it is an art acquired over time, which cannot be taught. This is one of the reasons why this sector in product development is often directly led by the founders and/or senior management.
Moreover, Meticulous strategizing results in creating an uncontested market space and making the competition irrelevant, both of which are pivotal for the prolonged success of the product. In a philosophical sense, it can be seen as conjuring something new and taking the world from 0 to 1, rather than adding more of something familiar.
Another school of thought would be hinting at escaping direct competition altogether because strategizing will make your business unique, to begin with.
Building any product just right so that stands the test of time and is flexible enough to make its way through eventual bottlenecks is engineering done correctly. The right engineer will strike that perfect balance between the durability and malleability of any product.
He/she will constantly monitor the code to get rid of unused features that might eventually turn into liabilities. And in a way, good engineering ensures that scalability issues are predicted and handled at the apt time.
There are a huge number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, but it is always wise not to architect for completeness, leaving room for the product to breathe and stretch.
And it is common knowledge that the more durable and wholesome the product’s feature-set, the more technical responsibility it brings in the long run. This is a tradeoff that Engineering in a product creation scenario deals with on a day-to-day basis.
Getting people to use the product is as important as making a good one. As a result, it is of paramount importance that the industry leaders understand contemporary marketing’s pivotal role in the entire product development process.
Earlier, only the ‘product concept’ drove the strategic thinking, but this practice has fallen by the wayside, citing recent events. With the markets becoming increasingly global and complex, the competition amongst peers and related market segments have reached staggering heights.
And in order to combat this seismic change, marketing professionals are required to drive product development and product life cycle functions within any startup or big organization.
A proper understanding of the objective goals and the progress against them is a sign of steady business intelligence. The exponential rise in online data, put in place by the digitization wave, has catapulted data science and analytics into the stratosphere for good.
In order for the product to succeed in the current cut-throat environment, it is imperative to qualitatively analyze the measurable goals and understand their statistical significance and the selection bias that comes along.
New-age platforms for multivariate testing and querying data, as well as frequently conducted data analytics boot camps, are making it easier to learn and improve on the go. This makes sure that the length and breadth into which the product forays are determined by real-life numbers and not a hypothesis.
Product Ops (or Operations) role within a product team facilitates easy communication via the sharing of resources and data between different departments. This particularly comes in handy while ensuring that cross-functional product teams work effectively and efficiently.
Operations work at setting the product’s key-differentiators, and partnering or outsourcing work on everything that remains. Hence, it is advisable for an ever-growing product to invest in crowdsourcing, virtual assistants, as well as process automation software.
Moreover, improvements in communication channels are a must to avoid getting out-competed by more agile competitors.
Product development makes for the much-needed foundation by which organizations set and eventually attain measurable objectives related to Return on Investment (ROI), which turns out, is the primary responsibility of any company looking to make a profit.
Product Development can be thought of as solving a problem, and by extension, there are limitless ways to get the right solution, especially when it comes to software. The variations can be seen in terms of the development cycle, team size, technology, and platform used, and so on.