As a team, we at Sidekick are always looking for ways to improve, from the platform (about to be platforms) to systems and work flow as well. In a software world, probably one of the biggest challenges we face is process and defining what our next steps are.
In our modern world, it is so easy to get distracted by new, shiny objects and go down rabbit trails of, “Maybe we need this in the platform. . . or that!”
But coupled with all this is a (small) company wide mindset: we’re smart people who don’t have all the answers.
With that in mind, we ask other peers, “Got any good ideas or input for us?” In fact, I told someone the other day, “We’re having this conversation because we’re good (referring to Sidekick). However, that doesn’t mean we have all the answers and would appreciate input from you. We’re comfortable enough in our own skin to say, ‘We think this is a good idea, do you have a better one?’ and then are prepared to get some straight talk from you.”
One, I think clients appreciate that. Two, it helps us improve. Even in a 21st century software world, you only have so much line of sight and someone else might see something you don’t.
So last night, I had the chance to hop on Zoom with a buddy from a large, multi (multi) million dollar business with some of the team and pick his brain on process. While not technically in our same vertical of software, his line of work isn’t too dissimilar. I started the conversation with, “When you all bring a new product to market, what is the process? Start from the very beginning and walk us through it!”
And, over the next 45 minutes, he did. Here is a brief, bulletpoint version of our conversation and what we gleaned from it.
1) Ideate: this is where ideas are thrown against the wall (or whiteboard).
2) Incubate: Let the ideas begin to take form.
3) Vetting: Now that the ideas have incubated, vet them.
4) Concept: Vetted ideas have made it this far, now ask, “What do we want to do and why do we want to do it?
5) Define: What are the requirements? This is the how part of the process. How are we going to do this? When do we need it? In this stage, prioritize what needs to be done to accomplish your goals and then create a scope of work.
6) Plan Phase: Now that the work/product is defined, commit to the features and a timeline of work.
7) Development: This is the phase where all of the above is finally incorporated with weekly check ins-”Are we on schedule? What are some of the issues we face? If we are behind, why?”
8) Launch: This is the “product to market” phase. Find an opportune time in your industry to launch your product where you will have the most eyes and attention on it.
9) Sustain the Product: Now that you’ve built the new product, how will you support it?
As we ended the call, my buddy mentioned one last thing: “Build out a visible roadmap for your clients. Build confidence by saying, ‘Here is what we have, here is where we are going and this is when we will have the new product in place.”
As we have more opportunities to come up with best practices, our goal is to share them with you. While some of the above might not be applicable to you, I also think some of it might be. Chew on it for a while. Let it incubate. Take what makes sense for you and then go apply it.