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6 Software Product Development Tips for Product Owners

Software product development

Blossom Founder Thomas Schranz says, “Good companies manage Engineering. Great companies manage Product.” 

If you’re a product owner, you know how important your role is. The product is your product. You’re ultimately responsible for its success (or its failure).

What do we know about software product development? Well, we’ve helped Fortune 100 companies, medical device manufacturers, and top universities reimagine it — and launch their software products 6x faster.

Let’s cover 6 ways you, as the product owner, can make software product development easier and faster for your team.

1. Say no

Make saying no more often part of your software product development strategy. When resources are limited, a good idea isn’t always good enough. Nobody’s an advocate for scope creep, but it happens anyway because most of us want to say yes to good product ideas.

Love him or hate, Steve Jobs is the archetypal “product guy.” He once said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas.”

By concentrating on fewer, more impactful features, product owners can help the development team deliver a high-quality core product, faster.

2. Make it simpler

As the project liaison, you’re responsible for making sure everyone is on the same page — software engineers, managers, and customers. That means you have to see through the hype, the politics, and the drama to clearly understand what’s needed for long-term success and streamline the software product development lifecycle. You have to combine multiple (potentially dozens, or even more) points of view, some of them conflicting, to arrive at one product vision.

Needless to say, it’s clear that “building and releasing a software product” and “simple” might as well be antithetical. Unfortunately, striving for “simpler” is a necessity if you want to succeed.

A Harvard Business study uncovered that in a survey of over 7,000 consumers, “decision simplicity” was the single best way to retain customers.

 In other words, “What consumers want from marketers is, simply, simplicity.” This goes beyond just marketing, though. Every aspect of the product release should prioritize simplicity (and clarity). Ask yourself, “Does this serve the product vision?” If not, remember — say no.

3. Keep an Agile mindset

The “Agile mindset” emphasizes flexibility and cross-functional teamwork, as opposed to typical top-down, waterfall-style management.

But, sometimes, it might feel like nobody knows how Agile is really supposed to work. The Chartered Institute for IT writes, “Even though Agile principles and the dominant approach, Scrum, are straightforward to understand, putting Agile into action is challenging. Many teams struggle to achieve a high level of Agile maturity, which raises questions about the efficacy of the commercial training and certification industry.”

If you ever feel like this, just remember the core tenant of Agile: “People over processes.” If some aspect of “Agile” (whatever permutation of it is practiced at your workplace) isn’t working for your team, then discard it.

Today, some of the world’s most successful companies like Saab, John Deere, and GE embrace Agile to increase profits and drive innovation. 

Andy Carritt, the Senior Director of Information Technology for Irrigation at Valmont Industries Inc., states that using Agile development “has been a wild success and is allowing us to completely revamp our process and improve our speed to market.

4. Utilize AI tools

AI has come a long way in the last few years and is transforming software product development as we know it.

Having good AI-powered development tools available for your engineers makes their work easier and more productive. For example, GitHub Copilot can automatically generate boilerplate and offer real-time code suggestions to save time and automate repetitive tasks. GitHub found developers using it “completed tasks 55% faster.”

ChatGPT can generate code too, or help developers work through complex problems using plain, conversational language.

Platforms like TensorFlow can help your developers build their own, customized machine-learning models. With TensorFlow, they can incorporate AI into customer-facing features or internal tools and services.

By ensuring your developers are experimenting with top-notch AI tools, you can help set them up for success. 

5. Set clear goals

If you can’t convey the overall goal clearly, it’s nearly impossible to capitalize on your developer’s skills. For this reason, you might want to consider using a framework for setting goals. Goal frameworks can be an effective way to help you and your team stay aligned and make sure the product meets everyone’s expectations.

One of the most popular goal frameworks is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).

  • Specific: Goals should be well-defined, ensuring everyone has the same understanding of what you intend to accomplish.
  • Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you and your team can track their progress and stay motivated.
  • Achievable: Goals should be attainable. It’s one thing to expect your team to work hard, but don’t be unrealistic.
  • Relevant: Goals should serve the product vision. Remember, sometimes you have to say no to good ideas.
  • Time-bound: Goals should have a deadline, and you need to stick to them — “work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.”

When it comes to setting and defining goals, encourage open communication with your team. Encourage them to ask questions and be willing to make mistakes. When developers feel confident and know you have their back, they’re more open to taking the kinds of innovative risks that can pay dividends. 

6. Use functionality libraries

Most software developers already know how time-saving UI/UX component libraries are, but they’re not the only kinds of component libraries they can use to shorten development timelines.

Utilizing pre-built functionality lets your developers focus their attention on building the innovation instead. Onymos Features-as-a-Service is the industry’s foremost functionality component library. It allows them to easily add pre-built features like chat, OCR, payments, login, and more to your software products. Onymos includes ongoing maintenance and updates with every feature, too. If that’s not enough, you can even get access to the actual source code.

And each Onymos Feature is built using “no-data” architecture. That means no customer data is ever accessible by Onymos or through an Onymos server.

Focusing on what’s important, saying no to stuff you don’t need, and creating a space where innovation and clarity thrive, are key to designing a successful product development methodology. We know — we’ve helped customers like Albertsons, CVS, and Vapotherm get better products to market faster. We can help you do it too. Get in touch with our team to learn more.

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