What makes a successful product (okay to be specific – a software product)? In other words, what causes so many software projects to fail? – These are reasonable questions to ask and to be answered. Let me try to bring clarity on this topic in this blog.
According to the Standish group report over 80% of projects are unsuccessful either because they are over budget, late, missing function, or a combination. Moreover, 30% of software projects are so poorly executed that they are canceled before completion. When you observe many software companies, the team works very hard in developing the project, project manager motivates them hard to stay on the schedule. But all of a sudden, the client says, “this is not what I am looking for”. Despite all the hard work of the project manager and his team, they did not manage to deliver the intended customer expectation. Software companies are hard-pressed to the extent to be ever more efficient and create products at a low cost, but when it hits the marketplace and sales are lower than expected or customers demand several changes during the development process, margins are significantly reduced from initial targets.
Successful product means delivering right product at the right time for the right market at the right price. The success of a product depends on many factors and stakeholders.
Following are the key factors which determine the success of a product.
a) Executive Management Support: Any process is more powerful, and more powerfully established, when executives “walk the talk”. According to a research, the ultimate responsibility/credit percentage for Executive team is 43% for failed project and 35% for a successful project. So how do they contribute? Well, look into the following bullet points: They (Ex. Mgmt)
- Set strategic goals for the organization
- Select the projects
- Design Organizational strategy for projects
- Monitor project progress
- Approve significant changes to project plans
- Resource allocation for projects
- Develop and nurture project managers through a variety of training programs
b) An Efficient core team: Setting up a proficient core team is an utmost important task. Typically the team includes a Product Manager, Project Manager, Project Lead, Developers and Testers. The core team leads the product development in all its different dimensions and stages. This is a vital task to be done by the management because they are the one setting the tone of the project and have a vast impact on its ultimate success.
c) Directly Involving Users: End User is the one who makes a product (for instance any product) flop or hit – don’t you agree? In my previous blog, we were discussing about User Experience and its importance. The most competent programmers in the world will fail miserably if they build software that the users can’t use. Involving the users, developing a product from their perspective adds superior value to a product.
d) Breakdown effort into milestones: Milestones are where “the rubber meets the road”. They tell your customers that you are doing the right things, at the right time and the project is likely to be a success. Even if you miss the bus, you can catch it up shortly. Milestones scheduled 3-4 weeks apart are usually a good way to show progress and catch issues before they become bigger problems.
e) Keep People accountable for their commitments: Many successful organizations strategy for employee is “Freedom with responsibility”. This way the management can bring in ownership feeling among all the team members. This brings in more ability to manage many projects and carry fewer surprises.
f) Cope up with Changes: As you know change is the only constant. For most projects, the requirements change less than 5% per month. These changes occur for many reasons, such as someone failed to ask the right questions at the right time, the problem being solved has changed, the users changed their minds or perceptions, the business environment changed, or the market changed. The secret to handle the situation better is to be proactive and better prepared for all uncertain changes.
Apart from all the above discussed factors – Using appropriate development process, monitoring the progression, following extensive testing procedure, using right marketing mix, fulfilling legal requirements – also plays an major role in fetching success to a product.
- New Whitepaper: Top 5 Frameworks and Toolkits for better User Experience - September 6, 2013
- Testimonial: BY-ESN Founder Folkert Rosenkamp (Video) - August 22, 2013
- 5 Mandatory Roles required for Successful Product Development - August 12, 2013