10 Tips For Solving Common Product Development Problems

by drjim on February 4, 2013

When developing new products, these are the tips that you need for success…

When developing new products, these are the tips that you need for success…
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If there is one thing that really should scare a product manager, it’s the prospect of using the product development definition to create a brand new product. I mean really, just how likely is that you are going to fail big time? Fairly good if you ask me & that’s not going to look good on your product manager resume. If only there was some way to ensure that you’d at least be able to get your new product to market. Then you’d have a fighting chance – you could really use your Product Management skills. Good news – I’ve got 10 tips for you to use to make sure that your next product development effort is a success…

How To Develop A Product Successfully

The following 10 tips are designed to help you avoid some of the most common problems that product managers encounter when they are tasked with developing new products. Take a look and see which ones you can use.

  1. Ensure That Your New Product Queues And Information Flows Are Visible: Every new product development effort consists of a series of queues. If everyone is not aware of where the product is at or what queue its various parts are currently in, then miscommunication can easily occur. Take the extra time to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
  2. Time Costs Money – Factor In Delays: Remember that very pretty project plan that you started your product development project with? Well, it probably got off track very quickly. This always happens. Don’t get surprised by it, take the time to factor in delays when you are setting up your master plan.
  3. Give Yourself Some Slack: There will be some step in the product development process where things tend to bunch up. Realize this in the beginning and make sure that you build some slack into this step because you are going to need it.
  4. It’s All About Response Time: As a part of every product development process we always set up control systems. All too often what we are trying to do is to squeeze the most efficiency out of the system that we can. This is a mistake. What we really need to be doing is to get the various systems to focus on improving their response times.
  5. Keep A Cap On Transaction Costs: Although we might think that it makes sense from an economic point-of-view to create large batches of our product, it really doesn’t. Instead we need to minimize our transaction costs by creating smaller batches and using them to get faster feedback about how things are going.
  6. Do Experiments: Give creating smaller batches of the new product a try. See what the impact of this is. If it doesn’t work out for you, it’s very easy to ramp the batch sizes up.
  7. Don’t Get Set In Your Ways: A development plan is just that – a plan. It’s your best guess at how to go about doing things. Be flexible and be willing to evolve as you make progress and as new information becomes available to you.
  8. Go All In: Don’t you dare start a new product development project without being willing to fully commit to it. Half just won’t do here…
  9. K.I.S.S.: You know what this means – keep your plans simple. Don’t always be looking for new feature to add to your product. Instead, start to ask yourself what you could remove from the product in order to make it meet the needs of your customer better.
  10. Try New Things: You don’t know how to do this new thing that you’ve never done before. That means that you are going to want to be doing testing of new ideas early and often. Quickly try new things out and move on if they don’t work out for you.
  11. It’s Not A Straight Line: Product development is not always one step after another. Take a look at what you are trying to create and find the spots where things overlap and are iterative. This will help you to make a better product quicker.
  12. The First Is Not The Last: Keep in mind that the first version of the product that you are developing will not be the last version of the product. This means that you don’t have to get everything right the first time around. Instead, shoot for “good enough”.

What All Of This Means For You

As product managers we “own” our products. This means that when a new product is being developed, we are responsible for making sure that things go well. Although is almost a part of every product manager job description, all too often, things can go awry on us!

I’d like to be able to tell you that there was one magical thing that you could do that would ensure that you wouldn’t run into any problems during your next product development effort. However, I can’t. Instead, I’ve provided you with 10 different steps that you can take in order to minimize the risks that you’ll be facing the next time you start to develop a new product.

New products are developed and launched every day. The next time that you are asked to create a new product, use the tips that we’ve discussed here to ensure that your product is delivered to the market on time and under budget!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What is the best way to keep your product development project transparent to the rest of the company?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you would like to get more of your potential customers to buy your product, what’s the best way to make this happen? If you talked with product managers, I’d be willing to bet that you’d hear a lot of them tell you that delivering more product information to your potential customers just might do the trick. I’ve heard this so often I’ve almost come to believe that it’s a part of the product development definition. It turns out that this is dead wrong…

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