As a product owner you have a vision for the final product. However, it sometimes turns out that it’s impossible to carry out the development process strictly as you planned. You have to create a new actionable plan together with your development team. In this article we share our lessons learned over the 8 years of working with clients. We will also shed some light on the risks associated with poor communication during this step. Learn how to keep a smooth transition from ideas to outcomes.
Remember that we work as a team and that we work towards the same goal. This rule is valid not only at the beginning of the process when we discuss the project’s details and at the end when you’re given a working product and are supposed to pay for it. We work together also during the whole development process. Remember that you’re a part of it, which means you shouldn’t try to take it over. Your project manager is the person who sets rules for the whole team.
Drafting up a common vision
To kick off your project successfully you have to determine its target group and the problem your product will solve, so that the user can understand it from the very beginning. Remember that you have to highlight the benefits for the user. For example, at Netguru, the process of drafting the shared vision takes place during a free scoping session.
Together with a client we analyze their competitors and try to precisely describe the target group. This step is crucial for every IT project. If we skip it, we will end making an app for everyone (which means no one), which will make it less useful.
Try to describe three types of users who will use your app. Try to find the differences between them, determine what motivates them and what can make them happy about using the app. After this step your every design decision will be simpler – you will avoid designing an app for yourself and let your team design for end users. It’s too late to determine your target group when the project has already been kicked off. If something goes wrong, you risk a failed product and wasting your money for developing features your app’s real users don’t even need.
Another very important aspect here is your team’s motivation. If the client doesn’t have a very precise vision of a product, the team won’t feel motivated because they feel they won’t be proud of the final product. Remember that your team don’t develop simply what you dream of. They always have in mind the perspective of the users and that’s why your views and your team’s views on various topics may differ.
Managing development - expectations vs reality check vs trust
Trust your team but control them. You should always be given access to staging and multiple communication channels to keep all the flow transparent. Always ask questions if you are unsure about something – it’s your team’s duty to make you feel safe and informed. Be active and don’t be afraid of speaking your mind if you see something is going on differently than you planned.
Treat your dev team as your employees, which means that you should constantly give them honest, yet polite feedback. When you want to implement some changes – do it in writing. Try to be precise and clearly express your expectations. Give your team the right to say “no” – they will use it only on the basis of their expert knowledge. Listen to your team, because you’re working towards the same goal.
How we do it in practice at Netguru
At Netguru every single project starts with a scoping session, during which we draft the product’s vision, describe the business model and the target group as well as conduct some time and budget estimations for the project.
Next, we set up all communications channels – the client is given access to a Slack channel, our project management tool, Jira, and to the staging servers. We invite the client to weekly meetings and daily standup calls so as to make sure the client is constantly in touch with the developers who work on the product.
We also organize feedback meetings during which we receive feedback from the client and give feedback from our team. This way we make sure you’re an effective member of the team as the product owner. What is more, we use the knowledge of the whole team. You can feel secure, because even if you work closely only with a few people, they have always a massive group of experts behind them.
At the end of the project, we hand over your product in a safe and discreet way. We can give you all control over your servers, but if you want, we can also take care of your product maintenance. In this case, if something goes wrong, you will be able to get help directly from the people who built your product.
Developing successful products is more about communication and trust than code. Choose your team wisely and you won’t regret it during the development process itself.