Developing a website, software or web application is no easy task. It takes careful planning, meticulous attention to detail and constant evaluation/testing. With all the moving pieces involved, it can easily become an undertaking where you are constantly reevaluating whether it was ever worth it. Well, regardless of what you’re developing, it’s always worth it. The lessons you learn are invaluable. The true challenge is learning how to minimize the stress involved so it actually becomes an enjoyable process rather than a constant chore. With a few simple steps, you can make your life a hell of a lot stressful and your time 10x more efficient.
Always Stay Organized
Never sacrifice organization for anything! Sounds like a simple task, but as your team grows and more moving pieces are introduced into the development environment, it’s crucial that everyone knows what they are doing and when they need to do it. Lack of communication can be the biggest detriment any team faces when it comes to efficiently moving product features from the planning stage to live in production. A kink in any part of the link can set you back days or even weeks. Thats why investing in the time it takes to keep the operational process of your team organized can provide tremendous value over the long run.
The 80-20 Rule Applies to Everything
By far one of the most important principles you can incorporate into your daily lives is the 80-20 rule, also known as Pareto’s principle, law of the vital few or the principle of factor sparsity. In essence, it states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Mathematically, it follows Pareto’s distribution which is a power law distribution where there is a functional relationship between two quantities where one quantity varies as a power of another. Originally the principle was used as an observation of population and wealth, but became popularized from a efficiency/productivity perspective by Tim Ferriss in his book 4 Hour Work Week.
So what does this have to do with product development? Well, soon after launching your product and talking with your alpha or beta group you’ll realize that this principle is extremely relevant. You’ll find that many of your customers will find 80% of their value or spend 80% of their time using only 20% of your product’s feature set. Think about it, do you use every single aspect of Facebook? Obviously not. Being able to identify and isolate the 20% that presents the most value to your customers gives you clear path down which you and your development team can progress. Why waste time developing tools or features the majority of your customers will never use? Focus on what’s important and it’ll directly influence the growth of your product.
Never Put Things Off
Efficiency in agile product development is consistently moving features through each stage of the planning to production phases in a timely fashion. Working with a cross functional team means that each member must be responsible for working on the highest priority item so it can pass from their desk to the desk of the team member next in line. Each kink or hiccup in the chain can cause delays and a decrease in productivity due to waiting on other team members.
Take Time to Think Things Through
Don’t move product features or design elements to production until they are near perfection. Obviously you’ll run into issues or new concepts once a feature is already in production, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push things along just for the sake of getting them live. It’ll only end up costing more time and mental energy fixing issues that are either not working, end up creating issues with your user experience or not providing any value for your end user. So, before moving things to production, take some extra time to review and work out all the kinks.
Don’t Sacrifice Team Time
One of the most productive meetings are the one’s where your entire team is there. Youre able to reach decisions, get input regarding all aspects of the workflow and create an environment from which the collective knowledge of your team can build off each others ideas. These few hours every week are by far the most important. Don’t sacrifice that precious time discussing things that are not essential or of high priority. If it’s not mission critical, take it offline and discuss it with those it concerns the most before bringing it to an open forum in a team meeting.
Developing a product that is we’ll thought out and provides a great deal of value to the end user is not an easy task. There are always kinks and road bumps that you never foresee and take a great deal of time to overcome. However, being efficient with your time, implementing product development tools and optimizing your teams workflow can alleviate a great deal of stress and help move progress along quickly. Think it through now and waste less time later.
Have any other tips on efficiency and the product development process? Leave a comment and let us know.