Lean Product Development

The software product development world is changing due to many factors including fantastic and efficient tools (to build products much faster) and a solid infrastructure enabling different business models (internet, network, mobile, etc.). But another factor is lean product development.

Lean, very briefly, involves building a minimally viable product, validating the product and product-pricing model with real customers, gathering feedback and adjusting according to real-world learning.

This model is especially applicable to building relatively small products, such as products that can be built under three development man years for an approximate investment well under $500K.

Why does lean make sense? Consider the traditional investment model associated with capital allocation needed to build a product. It typically starts with a business case that includes:

  • SWAT analysis
  • Operating Model (income, profits, cash flow)
  • ROI Analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Complex product road maps

These processes are good and useful, covering investment factors that should not be ignored. But what happens when the cost of doing this analysis starts to approach a material percentage of the cost of actually building the product?

I’d suggest that in 2013 a better approach is the lean approach. Why? You’re better off getting real-world feedback on your product than a thick binder of documents. After all, who would stand up and argue that “day 0” business plans are largely accurate?

If you’d like a well-written article on the topic, please read “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything” by Steve Blank, which was published in the May 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review. Access to the full article is available for purchase and it’s worth it. In the article Professor Blank provides a really nice Lean Business Plan framework that challenges entrepreneurs to identify:

  • Key partners
  • Key activities
  • Key resources
  • Value proposition
  • Customer relationships
  • Channels
  • Customer segments
  • Cost structure
  • Revenue streams

Additionally, the article includes a nice explanation of the lean process and a comparison between lean and traditional business creation models.

Centric embraces lean product development and continues to invest in the rippleware product development studio, our product design and development division. We’d love to help you with your product development efforts – please contact me to learn more.

I welcome your comments,

Mike Brannan

Mike Brannan_new_homepage

Mike Brannan is responsible for building Centric’s Technology Service Line and its associated offerings across Centric. He has more than 20 years of diverse technical management experience in design and delivery of scalable and complex software. Mike also develops and oversees all technology practices and is working to grow Centric’s rippleware Product Development Studio.

Contact Mike.