Good quality cannot be rushed. At the same time if the optimal launch window is missed a technology product could become irrelevant and fall short of achieving its targets. What product managers need to do is to find a way to have their best work ready at just the right time. Here are three steps that will help accelerate a product’s time to market and the time to revenue:
Agile Development Best Practices
The main challenge faced by product managers is how to keep development on track despite a variety of opposing forces. Requirements and directives change, improvements need to be made and tested, and of course, they have to keep pace with competitors. The Agile methodology approach is the only way technology products can be developed leaving room for changes and improvements. Here are the best practices for Agile Development:
- 1. Creating a Product Backlog
The product backlog chronicles all the items that go into the product development process in order of priority. Every requirement that needs to be fulfilled during the phases of product development should be recorded in the product backlog. Everything from costs to team members assigned to a task needs to be noted in the backlog. The backlog needs to be dynamic and leave room for changes as and when required.
- 2. Iterative development
Agile iterative development follows the process of breaking down large projects into smaller tasks. At the start of product development, the various steps involved need to be accounted for and given their timelines. At the end of each iterative or sprint, a review can be done to assess progress and make any changes if required. Timelines should be realistic but at the same time should not be too long. Weekly timelines are a good way to balance giving sufficient attention to the project and not prolonging the process.
- 3. Using tools
Tools like a professional management software can help to cut down on the workload and speed up processes. Automating a lot of processes can free up the time of the team allowing them to focus on other matters that require attention. Software tools can give the workflow a better structure, document processes better, and improve inter-team collaboration. With the availability of intelligent tools, every product development manager should take advantage of the benefits.
- 4. Testing
Agile development depends on creating working prototypes of the product that can be tested. While all the steps need to be documented, nothing provides a clearer idea of the finished product than the prototype. Prototypes can be developed at the end of each iteration and tested so that any problem that arises can be corrected in the early stages. Testing the product in increments can prevent the need for a lot of major changes at the end of the developmental stage.
Automated Testing Best Practices
We’ve not only established that testing is an integrative process in product development, but also that it is absolutely necessary. When it comes to technology products, if they are buggy or don’t perform their intended task, they won’t sell. Manual testing can be both time-consuming and expensive. Automating the testing process makes a vast difference in the quality and speed of the testing as well as the overall costs. Automated testing best practices include:
- 1. Select the right tools
With so many testing tools available it is important that the right tool is selected for the product to be tested. The testing tool will depend on the application being tested, the operating system being used, and other such variables. The testing tool should be feature-rich but also easy to use. QA teams should have the ability to write automated test scripts for the testing tool.
- 2. Determine which tests to automate
Not all tests during the product development process can be automated. Some tests have to be done manually while others can be automated to balance the time and effort invested. It is important to determine early on in the development process which tests to automate and have the right tools in place for those tests.
- 3. Test early and test often
Even with automated tests, it is important to test the product in phases. The earlier the testing starts the sooner bugs can be identified and resolved. Testing often also helps to catch problems as soon as they occur and correct them before proceeding too far down the process.
- 4. Align tests with skillsets
Automated tests need scripts that are written by human coders. The automation process will depend on the skillset of the QA engineering team and their ability to write the scripts for the tests to be performed. Test scripts can be allocated to QA engineers depending on their level of expertise.
Working with Virtual Teams
During the development and testing processes, there could be a skill gap within an organization. When this happens, the gap can be bridged by an external or virtual team. Outsourcing processes do not only fulfill the purpose of the skill gap but can also be invaluable to companies lacking the infrastructure to conduct their testing.
Agile development methodology, automated testing processes, and virtual or external teams help to speed up the product development process while maintaining high quality. Implementing these processes can have a product market-ready at the right time to ensure its usability thereby, driving sales and profits.