Mistakes happen, especially in the often rushed and high-stakes world of product development. However, the most common mistakes that frequently cause a significant loss of time and money can actually be avoided when teams are aware of the pitfalls that lead up to them. These are:
1. Failing to Consider the User’s Needs
Projects can veer dangerously off course when teams fail to consider what users actually need. In too many cases, product teams assume they are representative of the user. Never forget that it’s the user’s opinion of the product, not the creator’s, which truly matters. To be sure you’re meeting users’ needs, run usability testing with the target audience and don’t be afraid to redesign as necessary.
Think in terms of advantages to the user instead of features when mapping out new products and consider non-obvious solutions to use needs.
2. Forgetting About Regulatory Requirements
Discovering that your product doesn’t meet the regulatory review required by the agencies associated with your industry is crushing. Time, labor and financial costs go up with every redesign and retest, and so ideally you are reviewing and planning to meet all applicable regulatory requirements as early as possible in the design stage. Remember, if you know the standards against which your product will be tested, you can design accordingly.
Do your due diligence by working with a certified testing laboratory and the applicable regulatory agency before and during development.
3. Rushing Into the Development Phase Too Soon
The product development process is a multi-step progression that includes the information phase (concept and strategy), the generation phase (development and production), and the testing and evaluation phases. “Success oriented” schedules look good on paper because they’re focused on results but ignore the important role information gathering plays. Choosing not to research your market, the competition, and existing technologies will set your team and your eventual product up for failure later on.
Make strategy generation a benchmark in your schedule, build in plenty of time for research and redesign, and avoid rushing into production too soon.
4. Forgetting About Your Target Customer
Some teams fail to make distinctions between buyers and users even though these two groups may have very different priorities. It’s important to keep this in mind because the person purchasing a product to satisfy a business requirement won’t always have the same concerns as the actual end user who will be interacting with the product on a daily basis.
Always be sure that the buyer has explained the needs of the user fully so your end product can meet the needs of both.
5. Not Having the Right People in the Right Places
Ideally, product teams collaborate effortlessly and work together toward a shared goal without setbacks caused by miscommunication. In reality there are many ways that communication issues can trip teams up. These can be caused by a lack of resources on the technical, engineering, marketing, or business side; literal or emotional distance between team members; or even a lack of clearly defined roles. Sometimes, however, avoiding these issues is as simple as making sure everyone on the team has a voice from day one.
Make collaboration a priority by supporting clear communication at every step in the development process.
In conclusion, it’s critical that all factors that can affect your development schedule at every phase be understood and planned for. Setbacks will happen but not every setback is inevitable if you know the mistakes to avoid.