IV. Strategy Development
When we decide what product we will develop, we do not immediately proceed with product feature development. We should prioritize product strategy development. Product strategy development is a plan based on the implementation of the route objectives of the development theme. The development theme shapes the product vision, and the product strategy defines the steps you plan to take and tells the story of how you will achieve the product vision as time progresses.
The best way to break down strategy development into implementation steps is to create a product roadmap. A product roadmap is a tool that provides teams with a framework with timelines and specific actions that illustrate the vision, goals, and current status of product development. A complete product roadmap must include the following:
- Business goals and objectives.
- Areas where the product belongs.
- Product features.
- Order of priority of things.
- Key continuation indicators (KPIs).
Strategy development is a dynamic and continuous expression of a company's thinking about market competition, and product roadmaps need to be adjusted and updated regularly. As the competitive landscape changes, customer preferences are adjusted, or planned product features are modified for implementation, it is important to ensure that the product roadmap continues to reflect the status of current efforts and the importance of long-term goals. Typically, the product roadmap is updated weekly or bi-weekly so the team can access an accurate source of facts.
V. Product Development
The product development phase begins with the SaaS developers evaluating and selecting the optimal technology stack (programming language, platform, software and tools). We usually adopt the technology ecosystem that the company or the team is familiar with. The technology stack selection needs to prioritize the scalability, versatility, reliability and security of the future SaaS application.
SaaS technology stack selection principles:
- Mainstream technology languages. For example, java, python, etc.
- Low learning curve.
- There is long-term value in line with the technology strategy S-curve growth trend.
SaaS startup teams must be adept at building minimum viable products (MVPs) to validate the market. MVPs only have core functionality to effectively deploy the product and the essential core functionality to create immediate value for users at the lowest cost to get useful feedback from early adopters. The strategy is designed to avoid building products that customers do not want and seek to get the most information about customers for the least amount of money.
Startup SaaS teams must focus on two things during the product development phase.
- If you outsource your SaaS product to other service providers for R&D, you must recruit and deploy at least one R&D staff for project follow-up and collaborative development. Many startup teams do not have the means to invest enough R&D resources and costs in R&D at the beginning, so they can choose outsourcing service providers to commission R&D. If you use outsourcing, please make sure to recruit one or two R&D staff to work together to ensure that your team can quickly keep up with the subsequent iterations of development or optimization after the outsourced product is delivered, to avoid being "stuck" by the outsourcing service provider.
- Prioritize value over functionality. In the product creation phase, it is best to focus on value. Most startup teams fall into the R&D "can't stop" situation in the R&D phase, and the more features they have, the more complex they are. The focus of R&D is on the functional level, not on the value points that the product brings to the user.
VI. Testing & Feedback collection
After the initial successful development of the product, please do not rush to release it to the market. You should first find the early core users for a free trial. Through the core users' trial, obtain user behaviour data and their feedback to further determine whether the product idea meets market expectations and whether the solution can accurately meet the core requirements of users.
Testing SaaS products is a process of evaluating whether the applications hosted on the web meet customer requirements and achieve the expected solution performance. Some of the most common types of testing are performance testing, usability testing, security testing, business workflow testing, etc. This includes evaluating the functionality of the software solution to determine if it meets its objectives.
Collecting user feedback can help you anticipate the future needs of users and proactively solve problems before they become troublesome to users. a SaaS product is a customer-centric product and service created based on customer needs. Through continuous iteration of the product's service capabilities and problem-solving improvements, you can get users to buy and recommend your product to others.
Usually, we use live chat, customer site visits, simple questionnaires, social media tools, etc., to collect user feedback. Live chat and customer site visits are ways to communicate directly with your customers. You can plan to classify specific real-time questions or ask questions about the process of using the product to interact with users.
Simple questionnaires make it easy to quickly learn about user impressions of your product and service experience, such as user satisfaction surveys. Share this feedback with the sales team to provide them with use cases so they can better position the feature when it is sold to new customers.
Social media is an important platform where people like to express their feelings. Although it may not be as meaningful and constructive as direct feedback, you can find some valuable feedback through other social media platforms.
We can try to imagine the user as a novice in the design of the product, but remember that in the process of collecting user feedback, we should think more about why the user would ask such questions or feelings and think about the problem from the user's point of view, especially for most of the B-side user feedback on the problem, which usually raises the problem and then also gives you some "suggested "solutions, product managers should look at this type of solution rationally, and carefully in making decisions.
This type of solution is likely inadequate because most B-side users use the product scene, and the perspective is narrow. You can not make him from the system or the business of the overall view to give you good advice, which is what we often ask the product manager when you receive a user's needs, to understand what his job responsibilities (from the user's point of view), you can understand why he proposed the problem and such a recommendation program.
VII. Improvement of Product Iterations
Product iterative improvement, also known as iterative software development, is not just a buzzword but brings great practical benefits to our SaaS industry or Internet software products. For example：
1. Better software quality
SaaS product development uses an agile mindset, and iterative and incremental development is the best practice. We divide the product into small, well-defined units rather than large modules and large features that cannot be grasped. By delivering a small number of features quickly, we ensure that each delivered version can be fully validated and tested to ensure the quality of the product delivery.
In addition, through this way, if a problem occurs after the product version has been delivered online, we can quickly locate the problem, fix it and adjust it in time to reduce the degree of impact on users.
2. Faster delivery and implementation
We use rapid iterative development to continuously and rapidly improve the features that can help users solve their problems within a short release cycle. This approach can enhance users' confidence and positive feedback on our products, which is conducive to product development around the value of users.
3. Higher development efficiency
Dividing development work into smaller deliverables delivered as quickly as possible reduces the risk of miscommunication and incorrect requirements specification. The agile, iterative approach allows software development teams to plan, design, check and adjust iterations. In contrast, frequent releases force development teams to expose their work to reality more quickly, help resolve faulty specifications early, and respond more easily to change requests.
Working through iterations, project teams go through a cycle where they evaluate and determine what changes are needed to produce a satisfactory final product at each iteration.
While software product management is not the end of the road, the product management process at this stage is more than just a set of steps that SaaS companies and product managers need to follow. Each phase should have a purpose and a goal, not just an implementation. The final focus of product management needs to shift again to optimization and efficiency. Consider possible ways to scale, improve operations, and maintain business results while minimizing costs and optimizing efficiencies.
It is important to remember that product development is not a linear process. As a startup's founder or product manager, you need to remain flexible and develop resilience in yourself and your team.