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How to ensure building your app idea is set up for success?
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Are you set up for success building an application?
Application development has become a significant investment focus of leaders within organisations seeking to solve operational challenges, gain a competitive advantage, or generate revenue. For those lucky enough to be part of an investment to build an application from an idea, it is an exciting journey of creativity. Irrespective of the industry you are seeking to develop an application within, a common approach and framework still apply. To ensure any software development team is set up for success, it is vital that before you begin any design or development, you allocate time to research and validate your idea. This upfront research or discovery phase is sometimes called an ‘inception’. It is the successful execution of this phase or process that will move your application idea from just being an idea to a validated concept with confidence.
As Jeff Patton describes in his book User Story Mapping:
“There's always more to build than you have people, time, or money for. Always”
So how do you ensure that you are able to successfully navigate the complex pathway of software development, drive consensus and build the right features first?
At Zyrous, before we build any application, we ensure that the idea is understood, specifically of the value proposition, how it will positively affect revenue or retain users, and the future product (and team) is set up for success. We have a specific process within our ‘Discover' phase that caters specifically for running inceptions. In this article, we will cover the artefacts you should consider and the team you need to complete an inception.
So why perform an application inception first, what should I expect?
At a high level, an inception phase seeks to validate the concept, but it also serves the valuable purpose of ensuring that the team has a shared context of the idea. This can’t be understated. Significant value sits in ensuring the team is on the same page, chasing the same goal, especially when a Product Owner or End User is a part of the process to drive awareness to the team.
What you can expect from this phase is not just about conversations and shared context, though, it is tangible, it will setup the next phase of the development process for success. Remember, though, it isn’t about documents or workshops; it is about outcomes. You should come out of the phase knowing the team required, what your app will look like, and an estimate on what it should cost. If you are planning to complete an inception, here is a list of what you should expect to achieve (doesn’t mean you do it all):
Who should be apart of the research?
A core team that will be executing the work, along with the sponsoring stakeholders must be apart of the inception. A core team would be made of the primary product owner or representative of the idea/product and the team that will be executing the roles for the product (designers and developers). Without the core team available for the research sessions you run the risk of selected team members not sharing the same decision context, this, in turn, may cause the team to repeat decisions and re-cover topics.
At times through the inception, it may also include representatives from upstream or downstream teams that are producers or consumers of the core teams work. Practically the effectiveness of the meeting starts to diminish when the number of people is over ten people because there is a lot of group participation, and having large amounts of people all contribute effectively is challenging. The inception facilitator or project sponsor may consider invitees with the lowest ongoing involvement on the team to have other attendees represent their views in the meeting. Sometimes larger sized inceptions might be unavoidable, but the potential for lower participation from each attendee and the likelihood of lower alignment is a challenging tradeoff.
If a sponsor cannot take the time to attend these workshops yet still wants to influence or control the project decisions heavily, then that is a signal that the team may not get the support and attention it needs and deserves both now and in the future.
It is essential to enlist an experienced group facilitator that can impartially lead the meeting. This person’s ability to be an efficient master of ceremonies is vital. They are responsible for working through the agenda efficiently, ensuring the team is communicating effectively, sensing areas where the team should deep-dive for a while, and figuring out which conversations that are going on too long should be paused so they can be worked out later with a smaller group.
The platform of momentum.
When you’re serious about success, the execution of an inception phase as part of application development, before actually building anything, will provide a well-defined validated application concept. This is one specific technique that's part of understanding what it takes to build a successful product and will reduce or eradicate the risk of wasted time from lack of clarity or late learning. With this platform of awareness, the future phases of Designing and Building through the software development lifecycle are enabled to focus on their core delivery requirements. Whilst ongoing learning and feedback through the next phase is still critical, by this stage, you will have set up your application idea set up for success.
Who we are
Zyrous provide Design and Software development services that will include the research of your idea from ‘just a thought’ to a scaling product as your user base grows. With teams based in Perth, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, we enjoy the process and creativity of turning ideas into validated concepts.
David Daff - Director
About the author:
With a passion to see agile teams and software delivery successful, David has the ability to deep dive on project details and manages deliverables to commercial outcomes. He’s been delivering successful projects for startup to enterprise over the last decade. Sharing the best of agile software development techniques to take project roadmaps to project delivery. David makes sure you obtain the outcome you are seeking.