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Digital Product Development: Lean Startup

The last article of our series is about MVPs (Minimum Viable Products), fast product development and a rapid market launch. Again, the focus is on the user. Again, the aim is to develop new digital products efficiently and in the most user centric way. And again, it is about an iterative process.

In the development of digital product flexibility and rapidity are very important, because markets are quickly changing. Moreover, on the one hand costs have to be reduced, but on the other hand new products have to be developed quickly to successfully place them on the market. Here, the customer’s requirements come more and more into focus. And that is what the Lean Startup methodology is about.

Like the other methodologies of agile software and product development, the customer is in focus. Lean Startup is NOT about developing an overarching product with many functions. Instead, a minimum viable product, an MVP, should emerge in the shortest possible time. If possible, it should be released as a first version to be tested by users. Based on the acceptance and the customer’s feedback, the product is subsequently refined and optimized.

Build, Measure, Learn

The methodology of Lean Startup is based on the idea of “Learning by Doing”. The aim is to always launch new product versions in short development cycles. Based on the user feedback, the product is then optimized to offer the customer the maximum of user value. The iterative process compromises the three steps Build, Measure, Learn.

Build

At the beginning of a project, it is often uncertain if the new digital product will be accepted in the market. This is the reason why this step is ideally accompanied by a pilot customer or the product is even developed as part of a customer’s order. The developers start programming only the features needed for an MVP. However, these few features are implemented as good as possible.

“In this step, it is important for us to develop the core features, which help the customer to eliminate the concrete pain point”, explains Tommy Goslicki, product owner at SMS digital. “Thus, the customer quickly gains a first impression of the specific value of the product.”

Measure

The first version of the MVP is now ready. It is published and available for the customer to test it. In this process, it becomes clear quickly if the idea of the product moves into the right direction.

“Our MVP of Smart Alarm offered an intuitive and intelligent visualization of the alarms right from the start”, says Goslicki. “The visualization directly helped the maintenance manager to supervise all product lines in a central system and to intervene immediately in case of an incident.”

Learn

After the tests, the developers can focus on the refinement of the real value-added functions thanks to the user feedback. Furthermore, they save time, because they can draw conclusions from user feedback to optimize the product. The customer’s advantage is, that he is directly involved. At an early stage, he can actively introduce suggestions for improvement during the product design process. Based on his feedback, the responsible Product Owner decides which feature will be implemented next, later on or never. Consequently, companies have the possibility to see early on if their product can be accepted on the market and if it can be realized technically.

“We prefer to adjust the product early on and learn from it without high costs than after a long and cost-intensive development” says Goslicki. “This way, in the case of Smart Alarm some features from the customer feedback have been implemented immediately in the next product vision. Further features will be integrated in the application later on.”

Conclusion

Companies can no longer afford to waste time and money for the elaborated product development without identifying a concrete customer benefit. Because the focus on the customer’s needs and the quick implementation, the methodologies of agile software and product development are that successful.

Whether Design Thinking, Scrum or Lean Startup, these methodologies help companies to develop products promptly and efficiently. Due to a continuous product optimization based on customer feedback, products emerge that really fulfill the requirements of the market.

Read our other articles about digital product development:

Part 1: Product development made easy

Part 2: Design Thinking

Part 3: SCRUM

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