How to validate your product ideas

Don’t get us wrong; your product idea is probably significant. But it’s always a good idea (sic!) to get a second opinion – especially from software experts who have experience in your field.

You see, product ideas are one thing. But then you have to estimate the time it’s going to take you. Find the tech that will allow you to create it. And most of all, verify if your assumptions and requirements are feasible – both when it comes to the tech side and the actual functioning of the product in the market.

At DeSmart, we’ve made this part of the software creation process key – and worked on perfecting it over the years with our clients. Here’s how we do it – and how you can benefit.

Dedicated product workshops for DeSmart clients

Before we start working on a project (and sometimes even before we take it on), we like to save everyone some precious time with thorough client workshops. So that, instead of wasting time and money on developing features based on wrong assumptions further down the road, we can focus on user stories that will move the needle for our client.

Here’s what we do during the workshops:

–   We define the goal and priorities for the product. It’s super important that everyone’s on the same page and that we’re considering all angles and include the business goals as well as user goals in the process.

–   We decide how we’re going to measure achieving that goal and evaluate our progress.

–   We put the user in the center to make sure we’re actually going to create something useful for them. To do that, we create user stories, user journeys, mockups, and workflow diagrams.

–   If, at this point, we see gaps or flaws in the original idea, we’re signaling them to you. And you can be sure we’re not going to hold anything back. We’ll be completely honest, and if we think something’s not a good idea, we’ll tell you. That’s a promise.

–   We create the backlog prioritizing user stories – and that’s when we’ll use impact mapping (or story mapping). (If you don’t know what it is, read on for a brief explanation.)  Later on, we’ll add user acceptance criteria and visual user journeys to explain them in detail for everyone to see.

–   We’ll use story points to estimate user stories and create a schedule.

– All the while, we draw from industry best practices and share our experience from other projects to find already working solutions we could implement without reinventing the wheel.

What we end up with after the workshops:

–   Clarity around the end goal for everyone involved – which also translates into motivation and ownership.

–   Time saved on what would probably be happening later on in the project if we hadn’t verified it first.

–   Detailed requirements from the user perspective.

–   And a solid base to create an MVP in the fastest and cheapest way possible – so that it solves a real-life problem for the user and starts earning money and users asap. (More on building an MVP here)

And here’s what the workshops actually look like:

Product Discovery Workshop

Commercial break: what is impact mapping?

It’s a collaborative product management technique based on user interaction design, outcome-driven planning, and mind mapping. 

In a nutshell, it helps tie your product requirements with business objectives. A crucial step in the process of creating software. If you skip it, you might end up with a ready-made product that might just turn out a flop – because nobody’s going to need it or be able to use it.

Literally, it’s a way to define the impact you want to make for your customer – the user of your software. And eventually, make better product decisions throughout the software development process.

What you need to figure out first

To jump into the workshops (or validate your product assumptions internally – because that’s an option, too), it’s always great if the product owner prepares some useful things first – so we can discuss them and save everyone some time on figuring out the basics.

Here’s what we recommend:

Business Model Canvas 

It will help you map critical elements of your product’s business model, so we can discuss it and define how the product can align with it. This is also where we can spot risks or inconsistencies – and find ways to accommodate or resolve them at this stage.

This is a super important element a lot of software development companies miss. We need to know things like your customer segments, value propositions, and revenue streams before we can even think about starting the development.

And since we’re a heavily business-oriented bunch, at this stage, we’ll also be able to advise you on the business model and channel it through specific software features.

Product Canvas

It will help clearly see what features we will need to apply to align with your business model and provide the best user experience possible. It’s a tool to help us see how users will interact with your software or if they’re even going to need it in the first place.

This will also be the starting point for our user stories. It’s important to realize that this canvas will change as we learn more about the users from how they’re actually using the product – and that’s expected (and usually desired.)

There’s no skipping this stage if you want a product that actually works for your customers (and brings in revenue)

I mean, there is, but you don’t want to do it. That is if you want to save yourself some frustration and – perhaps more importantly – development time AND budget later on in the process, when the things we’ll discuss and define during the workshops pop up – and they inevitably will.

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Let's talk about how we can bring your ideas to life together!