Biggest Product Development Roadblocks (And How to Avoid Them)

July 29, 2016

9:00 am

You can’t attempt launching a product without having a solid plan. However, as we all know project creep tends to penetrate even into the most well-thought plans and make the whole project go off-rails.

While there’s no ultimate blueprint for product development as each entrepreneur is likely to choose their own approach, there are some common product development roadblocks a lot of us face in the process. Founders are often guilty of chasing perfection, rather than execution, which often not only extends the launch time frame but can result in weak product market fit as well.

Here are the biggest bumps of product development and ways to avoid those:

Adding Too Many Features

Most entrepreneurs attempt product development with a noble goal in mind – to create the baddest, most useful product even imaginable. This goal often derails to stuffing the app with as many features and variations as possible.  However, what often stays behind in considerations is that the product development timeline and budgets will grow exponentially with each new “cool” feature you insist on adding before the launch. Additionally, more testing will be required, which means more time and money spend as well.

How to Avoid This

Adopt the “good enough is good enough for me” mindset. Striving for the ultimate perfection may prove to be an unattainable goal with the version one of your product. Gather the initial user feedback and review the product adoption curve and afterwards, consider what kind of features your target audience really wants in your product.  Expand your initial offering only when it’s critical, not because you think you need to do so. Ramp up and go bigger after the minimal viable product launch.

Setting Unrealistic Timelines

As the famous saying goes – 9 women can’t bear one child in one month. The same is true for product development – if you double, triple or quadruple your resources, the development process will not always go faster. Coordination overheads will increase respectively if you add additional people on task. Risks and development costs also get higher.

How To Avoid This

“Identify your priorities for all the features you wish to implement. We often suggest using a 1 to 10 scale. When attempting a larger project, you’ll have to prioritize even further and add the time and costs of developing each of them. Be realistic and assign milestones and checkpoints when you’ll review everything that was done. Additionally, it’s worth color coding each feature based on its importance to have a more sharp look on the overall project process,” – suggests Richard Firth, CTO of JDP Limited.

Investing Too Much in Pre-Launch and Forgetting About the Post-Launch Strategy

Developing a truly great product based on the in-house findings solely is hard. There will always be a gap between what you can achieve with internal testing and what happens with your product in the real world. You may not imagine how the end users will use and abuse your product, and which new audience segment with be quick to adopt it too – real estate managers, clergy, teens? In most cases, the second or third product version hits the sweet spot.

How to Avoid This

It’s okay to launch an imperfect product. Yet, make sure you have a viable post-launch strategy in place for how you can improve it. Gather as much user feedback as possible, either by:

  • Creating a dedicated on-site/email survey for existing customers.
  • Crowdsourcing community feedback from platforms like Product Hunt, Beta List, Entrepreneur Sub-Reddit  and other communities relevant to your niche.
  • Most common customer support tickets and queries.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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