A healthy product development process

Below are some of the characteristics that are important for a healthy product development process:
  • Adaptability
    A good product development process is adaptive. The basis for this is users often don’t have a clear understanding what he/she wants until given something tangible. Once presented with a something tangible, we can learn which elements are useful and which are not. It is impossible to guess which elements are the most valuable. We learn from users actually using the system and ideally should be able to apply this learning quickly.Adaptability is not easy especially when executives and business desire predictability. This is especially so in large organizations as every department is expected to working according a plan. Predictability and adaptability are at odds with each other.  Predictive processes measure success by conformance to a plan; adaptive processes measure success using various customer feedback mechanisms.
    • Ability to deliver fast
      The ability to deliver fast is one of the key principles of lean product development.
      “Think of reliable, repeatable, rapid delivery as a sign of excellence in a software development organization.” Mary Poppendieck
      Fast delivery is sign of good, solid engineering practices and a mature software development organization. Examples of practices that enable fast delivery:
      –       immediate clarification of requirements
      –       no time-consuming handoffs
      –       minimal delays in testing, integration
      –       daily builds and rapid feedback from integration tests
      Fast delivery encourages an organization to take an experimental approach to product development; team members are encouraged to try out new ideas and learn from real user feedback instead of building a product based on assumptions.
  • Information flow
    There should be free bi-directional flow of information between the various departments within an organization and that too with minimum delays. Emphasis on  documents and passing it ‘over the wall’ is less than ideal; it contributes to waste and loss of tacit knowledge. The most effective mechanism of communication is face-to-face communication. The boundaries that exist  within organizations are often barriers to information flow and can contribute to loss of customer affinity.

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