Software Development Process

How to set your product up for success: Do your homework
As a consultancy it’s hard to figure out if a potential client has done their homework. It’s up to you to do the research necessary to ensure there is a need for what you are trying to do.

This article is the second in a three-part series explaining (1) how to clarify and research you idea and (2) where you should start when you build an application. In the previous article we discussed how to craft an idea for an app.

In this post we’ll cover the research you need to do before starting application development.

Three key pieces of homework:

  1. Know the problem
  2. Know the customer
  3. Know the competitive landscape

Identify the problem

I touched on this in a previous post, but it bears repeating; find an issue that is a real problem for people. You might want to build an application that makes it easier to get a drink at a bar, but how much of a problem is that really? Cumulatively, I’ve probably spent five minutes of my entire life waiting to order a drink at a bar -- not a significant amount of time.

Find the customer

It is essential to talk to potential customers in order to be clear about the nature of the problem for a particular group of people. Identify what kinds of people have the problem you've identified, and make sure it is a limited subset of people. Your target market can’t be everyone who uses the Internet. Not even Facebook targets everyone who uses the Internet, and they have more than a billion users.

Research the competition

If you have a great idea, taking some time to actually do research doesn’t take very long. I’m sure your idea is awesome, but you’re probably not the first person who came up with it and tried to build a business/product. Search the problem, looking for press releases or other mentions of a similar product or service. If you find there have been five companies who raised over $1 million to tackle the problem and they’ve all gone dormant or completely out of business, maybe it’s worth reaching out to those people to learn more.

If you don’t find any competitors, that might be a bad sign. It’s pretty rare no one has thought of this before. Every huge company has a ton of competitors. It may actually be a bad thing if you say, “This is the only app that does this" -- maybe it’s not a sustainable product.

After you’ve done your research, you can move into the development phase. Next week on the SmartLogic blog we’ll have advice on what features to build first.

Still in the idea phase? Read my guide to crafting your application idea.

Follow SmartLogic on Twitter for more business development advice.



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