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Did you know that poor documentation leads to 48% of all software project disasters? Some projects fail in simple documentation, whereas others have major defects within. Unarguably, mistakes drive learning; however, they can cost dearly if not rectified in time.

To that end, learning what is not right, what could go wrong, and ways to overcome the same can hone problem-solving capabilities and bolster judgment. This readily applies to product development.

New products go through a series of defined, though not essentially linear, phases to become market ready. Everything begins with ideation – a phase in which the product team thinks through different features of the products and brainstorms prospective designs. Thereafter, teams design, develop, and refine prototypes and return to the initial phase of ideation to address a roadblock or encounter more challenges.

Product design and development is one of the most elaborate disciplines involving multi-step processes. Every step involves multiple skills and departments, increasing the risk of expensive mistakes.

Noted below are the seven common product development mistakes that should be avoided at all costs.

1. Rushing the Development Phase – Starting Early

Product development involves three distinct phases: strategizing, conceptualizing, and developing.

The first phase is about discovering the product requirements and defining the strategy to create and deliver a fruitful product. The second phase is about taking the results of the first phase and determining the product architecture. The third phase involves taking the product in the direction validated in the second phase, making it design ready for production, testing it, and performing the first-run production.

Delivering a robust and valuable product should be the aim. While businesses may think the sooner the product is released, the better, they are grossly mistaken. The first two phases provide a foundation for product development and success. In these critical phases, target market and user needs are defined, product specifications and system-level architecture are planned, and the product concept is vetted through user evaluations and testing.

Skipping any of these steps in your quest to be hasty is WRONG!

2. Doing Too Much with Fewer Prototypes

Remember, prototypes answer questions. If a prototype is designed to address multiple questions, split them into different prototypes. When the development phase begins, making fewer prototypes may not allow the team to test parallelly.

Product development teams need to create prototypes and test them. It is quintessential to verify that the design meets the user requirements, design goals, and product specifications. The teams must also uncover design changes in the early development phase, which saves money and time.

3. Failing to Engage Suppliers on Time

The product development phase has some pre-set goals. It is essential to meet all the performance specifications and ensure cost-related goals are realized. Initial design decisions determine 70% of the product manufacturing costs. So, you cannot wait to engage suppliers until the design is ready. It could cost the business dearly.

Each supplier shall furnish unique processes. Expect different design feedback and cost estimates, as no two suppliers would be the same. If you incorporate design feedback from one supplier but change to another later, expect design updates.

Take early feedback to ensure the development team rolls out changes effectively. It helps balance the development cost and time while delivering the best quality.

4. Undervaluing the Effort Post Design Release

The front end of product development is always fuzzy and much discussed, whereas the back end is murky and seldom heard of. But product development is incomplete even after releasing the product design and getting approvals. You are only 30 to 50 percent through product development and ready to enter the back end.

Prototypes are built at this time. Prototypes are tested to detect if they follow performance specifications and quality regulatory testing. Then, the design is transferred to production suppliers, where the final fabrication and inspection are done, followed by assembly procedures. It also involves other product launch aspects like field support, returns, shipping, inventory, product end-life planning, etc.

If you undervalue the effort post-design release, you are making a costly mistake. This lengthy back-end development process should be accounted for and planned to avoid schedule delays.

5. Avoiding MVP

minimum viable product (MVP) provides an instant solution with the least features. It contains some essential features, nothing fancy, to cater to audiences. It is also a process enterprises repeat time and again to identify the riskiest assumptions, find the smallest experiments for testing the assumption, and utilize the results for course correction.

MVPs are reliable options for new products and startups much before the market accepts them. They deliver incredible results for steady product development against traditional methods. An MVP also allows the product to grow by combining inputs from initial adopters.

However, some development teams do not consider MVP as an integral facet of development. They even skip this vital feature, eradicating the notion of user experience.

6. Delayed A/B Testing

People tend to put off A/B testing until they reach completion. Of course, you do not have to run A/B tests with just ten users, but you must implement it much earlier in the development phase to make it more realistic.

Create a product/company culture to test everything and leverage data. Test the app, landing page, and website. This would effectively guide the product development process, though this can be expensive.

7. Not Following Regulatory Requirements

There are many regulatory requirements in every industry governing product performance, safety, etc. If a product fails to meet the regulations during acceptance testing, it can prove to be expensive. These expenses include labor and time to redesign a product, along with additional costs.

Initially, it is crucial to discuss the applicable regulations with test laboratories to confirm product validation and verification efforts. Knowing the regulatory standards right from the start is best to be more confident about testing the product. This prevents issues related to inadequate design considerations or inapt testing methods.

The Final Word

Developing a product from scratch is a time-taking process and prone to numerous errors. From unnoticed bugs to communication gaps, even the smallest things can significantly impact the development process. Be aware of the mistakes to handle them more effectively without affecting the product quality.

Partner with offshore product development experts like Pratiti to ensure faster time to market and happy customers!

Nitin Tappe

After successful stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is a postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 24 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.

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