The Essential Guide to Software Product Development
Software product development is an avenue with immense potential across a range of industries. However, with these ample software product development opportunities comes concerns that businesses might not think about or fully understand before developing their software.
There are common issues, such as increasing customer demands and limited resources, as well as issues that are specific to your business that can be solved using software products or platforms.
These software products and platforms can help your business succeed in two primary ways. First, they can help you expand your business through various means such as improved marketing and outreach or even analysing data for new markets your business could fit. Second, they can help increase your business’ efficiency leading to a larger profit margin allowing you to direct your revenue towards more growth.
So, here is a guide to software product development and an introduction to the opportunities that await your business within this field.
The information discussed in this article bases its report on 20+ years of experience in software product development. This assessment comes from two decades of watching projects succeed, fail, survive, produce happy clients, and angry clients.
Therefore, this information will provide you with a mix of positive and negative aspects of software product development. This overview is purposefully inclusive, providing a balanced view of succeeding or failing within this endeavour with minimum damage or minimised disasters.
Why Should You Build a Software Product?
There are many reasons why a business would opt to build a software product. Despite the vast differences in building a software product and most traditional retail products, the reasons for making your software product are similar to creating any other product or business:
- You have an idea for a new project: If you have an idea for software that solves a problem more efficiently, you could have an entirely new project idea, with the core of the project being increasing the efficiency of your business.
- You have an idea for creating a support service: If you have an idea that will help save time, money and ultimately leads to better profitability within your field, or even within another area, that could be a seed to build a software product around that.
- You need software to suit your unique needs: Most of the time, people create software and other inventions or upgrades based on their needs. Sometimes, out of the box products do not suit your unique needs. While it still might be cheaper to create a workaround to manage this issue with the out of the box option, sometimes that is not possible. Therefore, it is worth the time, money, and effort to save yourself (and others) these headaches in the long run.
How to Start a Software Product Development Project?
Starting a software product development project is not an easy feat, regardless of the tools and options you have at your disposal. However, it certainly does help to know that you do have options. You do not need to start from scratch as there are primary resources available for nearly any kind of software you intend to develop.
Here is what the technological world has to offer as cornerstone options to kick off your software product development:
Proof of Concepts (PoC) help you prove that your software will work in the real world. This demo system simulates real-world stressors on a concept to ensure the real version of the conceptualised design will perform as designed.
This environment test helps prove that the concept will work, before the time, money, and energy gets invested in creating the real deal.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a resource that decides whether your software product can actually solve the problem you intend to solve. MVPs are especially important with software development because it tests the idea of change versus need. MVP will determine whether your software is solving an actual problem your end users are experiencing and if they’re willing to pay for that solution.
Throw Away vs. Built to Scale
Throw away and Built to scale are two fairly self-explanatory methods to start your software product development.
Throw Away Software
Utilising the throw away approach to starting your software product development means you built either a PoC or MVP you know cannot be turned into a commercial product. It’s typically built with minimal time and resources purely to test your idea. Once you’ve tested your idea, you’ll need to completely scrap all previous development and rebuild the software product from the ground up. This allows you to confirm you have a strong idea for a software product without wasting time or resources.
Built to Scale Software
Much like the name suggests, built to scale software is a product and resource that should grow with your business needs.
While a throw-away software build is a bandage, build to scale software is a skin graft. There are many opportunities within the build to scale software development because it intends to evolve and thrive even though the upfront costs are higher.
Should You Use a Throw Away Build or Scaling Build for Your PoC or MVP?
A lot of throw-away builds are specifically for PoC or MVP. These builds require minimal time and investment, as they are only demoing your concept. If your idea for your software product is unique or completely new to its target market, then building a throw-away product allows you to test your idea with minimal resources.
However, most software product development projects should start with scaling in mind. Built to scale software does take a moderate initial investment but pays off if you continue because you have already laid the groundwork for the actual product, instead of just a demo. If the solution you are building revolves around a proven business model, then using a scaling build will allow you to grow it faster as you’ll already have a usable code-base.
Decide Your Tech Stack
Besides having options for creating concept designs, technology advancements also offer you different options for your preferred tech stack.
Using similar Open Source projects Vs. Built from scratch.
The foundation of your software will come from two broad options:
Open Source Projects: Open source projects are created by other software developers or coders who have shared their work with the general public. If you can find an open-source project to help frame your software development code, you can cut out a lot of initial time, money, and resources.
Pros of Similar Open Source Projects:
- Low initial costs
- Highly reliable (not every project, but you could easily figure out the quality)
- You still have the flexibility to make it yours.
Cons of Similar Open Source Projects:
- There are potentially long-term costs needed to keep it running.
- Would not match with your exact requirements
- It could pose serious security risks.
Building from Scratch: Exactly how it sounds, building from scratch creates an entirely new code without any business specific foundation to start you off.
Pros of Similar Open Source Projects:
- You know and control every aspect of the software.
- The software is entirely your own
Cons of Similar Open Source Projects:
- It takes a lot of time and money.
- You are solely responsible for updates, firewalls, and security measures.
Native vs. Cross-Platform
Building your software product as a Native or Cross-Platform solution will be a decision that you need to make if you are creating an app for mobile devices. Thankfully, the basic concept of native and hybrid software development is relatively easy to understand.
Native: Native app design is when everything for that app is designed specifically for one operating system (iOS or Android.) While you can create an app for each platform, you will have to deal with multiple code bases instead of one.
Cross-Platform: This option of app development ensures one code base produces an app for each operating system.
Remote vs. In-House Team
Remote work is becoming more commonplace, but there is still a notable divide on whether you should hire a remote team or keep your development team in-house.
Hiring a remote team in this context means you are outsourcing your software development team. Therefore, remote resources are all contractors who don’t work for your company, even though they can be bound to secrecy and nondisclosure, depending on your agreement’s arrangements.
Pros of a Remote Team:
- Low cost (usually one third compared to in-house)
- Minimum commitment (you could terminate your contract easily)
- Quick kick-off
- Fast turnaround
- Diverse tech skills (on demand)
Cons of a Remote Team:
- Their commitment to you can also be minimal.
- More of a security threat
- Could just disappear without finishing the job
Creating an in-house team is an investment. Chances are, if you are developing an in-house team, you are expecting to be in it with the same people for the long haul.
Pros of an In-house Team:
- Easy Communication
- You get to know their work habits.
- You have more control over their loyalties.
Cons of an In-house Team:
- High cost due to:
- Full-time (or Part-Time) Salaries
- Other Benefits
- Difficult to find skilled resources
- Takes a long time to build an effective team.
Make Your Software Future Proof
Of course, no one knows what the future holds but by making an effort to future proof your software product before you spend too much money and time developing it. Here is the best way to future proof your software development:
- Validate the idea with minimum cost
- Your project may or may not succeed but invest time to think about both scenarios before kicking off the project.
Where Can I Find More Information on Software Product Development?
This essential guide to software product development provides all of the basics you need to kick-start your software product development efforts. Of course, there are an extensive set of details to each section of this guide that will help you develop your software product in the most efficient and effective way. So, we will be creating future guides to each specific aspect of this overall guide you can utilize for a comprehensive look into software product development and how it can help your business thrive.