Software product development initiatives are not an easy feat especially when 80% of the projects fail for one reason or another. Executing software development is hard, but it shouldn’t be.

Software product development requires unwavering dedication, strategic thinking, experience, execution under limited resources all while maintaining a deep understanding of both the market and user needs. 

Having started my career in consulting at Deloitte, and after building software for startups and enterprises for over 25 years, I have developed the 8 P’s that every software product development initiative should focus on to mitigate project risk:

1. Persona:

Understand who your users are. Create detailed user personas to ensure your product meets their needs, desires, and preferences.

2. Problem:

The customer, the user and their problems are paramount. We need to be obsessed with understanding and alleviating the end-user’s pain. Our mission is to solve real issues that matter.

3. People:

Assemble a rockstar product team. It is crucial to attract, hire and retain top talent. Even if it is a combination of in-house and/or an outsourced team. We need to look for culturally-fit individuals who share a passion for the problem we’re solving. Over-hiring can be detrimental. We ensure every team member is vital to our mission and have the experience and capability in solving the problem they are tasked with.

4. Product Vision:

The clearer you are about what you will build and why, the less risk you will take on later in the software development initiative. Having a long-term vision and product roadmap is important. We developed a proprietary process we call ‘Innovation Accelerator’, to align all the stakeholders through a design thinking workshop and adopting lean product principles. Our focus should be on delivering real solutions to real problems that make a difference. Clarity will build confidence amongst all stakeholders upfront. We have to go slow before we can go fast. Remember, clarity today saves headaches tomorrow!

5. Process:

Speed is our ally. Speed-to-market requires a well honed software development process. Validate the features that your users truly need. This will help in avoiding unnecessary software development effort and focusing on high-impact features. We have to emphasize solving problems with each product release. We need to release product features fast and iterate even faster. Continuous improvement and innovation leveraging agile development principles should keep us ahead of the curve and responsive to customer needs. 

6. Prototype:

Map out the user’s experience from start to finish. This helps in identifying touch-points and potential pain points. Create clickable prototypes to visualize and iterate on design before actual development. This saves time and resources in the long run.

7. Plan:

Lay out a comprehensive build-out plan. This should include timelines, milestones, and resource allocation to keep the development process on track. Plan the technical backbone of your product meticulously. A solid architecture also ensures scalability and robustness. Sprint planning and following agile development method are crucial.

8. Product:

Ruthless prioritization of product features and having a clear product roadmap is key. We need to avoid distractions, shiny objects and focus on what truly adds value. Shiny objects can wait, solving the core problem cannot. In this tight investor and budgetary environment we cannot afford to put resources behind features that takes us away from building software that matters. We ought to achieve Product-Market Fit (PMF) early. 

By focusing on these areas, technology leaders can significantly mitigate software product development risks and increase the chances of their product’s success. 

By honing in on these 8 P’s, any software product leader can navigate development challenges, drive innovation, and ultimately, succeed in delivering value to their users.

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