Modern times require modern solutions. As coronavirus has directed the global economy towards a downturn, businesses are looking to pivot towards products and offerings that would help them survive this crucial time. If you're a startup in a similar position, looking for a market downturn product to keep you from burning out, you need product development to be fast and cheap.
What should start-ups actually do?
The first thing a start-up team can do for speedy product development is avoid building things that aren't on the critical path to either meeting known demand or testing clear hypothesis about user needs. Building too much without validation or clear learning objectives is the biggest inefficiency in the start-up world. Good product development companies are slowly coming to the realisation that the first step to creating any digital product is making your requirements lean. It’s time start-ups came on-board with this idea too. There is no way that you need everything you think you need perfectly developed before launching your product.
Using a lean approach means emphasising focus on your end-user, thinking of your releases in these terms, and pre-validating features through user research. It is extremely important for product developers to use rapid prototyping and wireframe exercises.
Assuming that a start-up team understands this, we often see a bad job done at efficient execution. The core value that makes any team efficient is communication, especially if you choose to hire an external product company.
Let it be clear that hiring an external tech team is the fastest way to product development for startups. As a product development company, we have very often seen small start-ups invest energy, money and time in hiring a brand new team to develop the project in-house and falling face-first. Hiring an experienced external team, with whom you’ve been able to build trust and create a healthy flow of communication has mostly been the best option for start-ups.
When hiring a tech team or even using your own, consider making communication a process goal and evaluating success based on how much information you have at hand. This means that everyday meetings, or weekly progress reports or however you want the frequency to be, it should your goal to stay on the same page with your development team and avoid surprises. In terms of requirements, always communicate them in the lightest weight possible, and accept and encourage ad-hoc discussions. The key here is efficient collaboration!
Our recent experience with speed
We recently worked with Hepta Airborne, which provides airborne inspection of electricity infrastructure. They needed a flying chapter that gathers a lot of pictures and live streams, and so they needed automated image recognition tech. Since their drones capture a large number of pictures from electricity lines, poles, insulators, transformers and other equipment, they needed a program that can help end-users easily find the picture that shows where the isolators are heated up or close to breaking and need maintenance. The drone that flies for 600 km should be able to share the exact coordinates and temperature of the isolators to the user.
Their main problem was a close deadline - tight schedules. They needed the product delivered in a time until when it wouldn’t be possible to build an in-house team. This is where hiring an experienced external team becomes a necessity and Thorgate came to help! We understood that they needed to make the picture import and recognition flow faster, and they wanted to achieve this as soon as possible.
Given the short time span we had for the development, our first step was to get clear and concise descriptions from Hepta. We already follow our lean requirement method. Through lean requirements, we are able to increase the accuracy of our estimates, accelerate product delivery, and improve production success. Here’s an infographic detailing how we do it.
Even though we are a Python development company, with Hepta we saw that the best choice of tech stack meant using Java, because for us what is good for the client comes first. Being a Python development company doesn’t mean we can not deliver anything else, we choose Python for most of our products, but never at the expense of client requirements. Since, the company’s system was already in Java, rewriting in Python would mean wasting their time and money, which is not us.
The achievement was that previously they needed to manually point broken isolators in a live feed, and we automated the process helping them reduce an enormous amount of manual labour!
The question how can a start-up get faster in product development has one simple answer: do less, keep it as simple as possible!
- Iterate fast, try to come up with a working prototype as fast as possible.
- Don’t fear mistakes, use them as discoveries!
- Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good
A good product development company like Thorgate already understands this, and can deliver quality with speed. So if you do choose to outsource your innovation as a tech startup and hire an external team, build trust with a team that is not afraid to point out your mistakes, willing to take risky decisions and engage in your product a 100%. This could be the recipe to fast and quality product development for a start-up.