Software is only valuable if it’s creating a scalable solution to an important problem. The first step in our process is working with clients to develop objectives and key results (OKRs) that serve as the foundation for our work together. OKRs are a goal-management framework invented at Intel Corporation that later became widely used at Google and many other leading technology companies, both large and small.
OKRs are designed to set a strategy and goals over a specified period of time. They create incredible transparency and accountability, making it very easy to evaluate whether our partnership is helping you create enterprise value. Building software without this kind of “North Star” is tantamount to buying really nice artwork for your office. It may make people feel good, but it does not help you reach your goals.
Budgets should be a direct function of business goals and the expected value that will be created if and when they are met. Once we have defined OKRs with our clients, we work with them to set an appropriate budget against achieving their OKRs. This process centers on custom software development but also takes into consideration other critical work streams and associated costs such as product marketing, sales marketing, content development, and user acquisition.
The money spent on pre-market software development carries the most risk because you have no data on whether what you are building will work.
From a financial perspective, the money spent on pre-market software development carries the most risk because you have no data on whether what you are building will work. We always encourage our clients to allocate as little of their budget as possible to getting to market. Product launch is the starting line, and earmarking considerable budget to respond to the market is the most likely path to a successful outcome.
Once OKRs are set and budgets are defined, we move into development. The first step of development is to define a shared vision for something we can get to market quickly that has the greatest potential of achieving our OKRs. We typically jump-start this process with a 1-week design sprint to focus our thinking and enumerate the assumptions we need to validate.
This process puts you in the driver seat to set priorities and make informed trade offs on scope in real time.
We then deconstruct that vision into its component pieces of functionality and estimate the level of effort associated with each component. This forms the product backlog, a living collection of prioritized things we want to build. Our team works in 2-week work cycles called sprints. Your budget determines our sprint work capacity, or velocity. When combined with a backlog of estimated work, this process puts you in the driver seat to set priorities and make informed trade offs on scope in real time.
We rely on data to measure success. When we create OKRs, we also create key performance indicators (KPIs) to quantify success. For some projects, KPIs are all about engagement (e.g., MAUs, week-1 retention, stickiness), while others are more focused on profitability (e.g., ARPU, CAC). Whatever the project, measurable goals are a requirement.
A fundamental part of our development is integrating best-in-class analytics that allow us to measure success, understand user behavior, and draw insights into how specific pieces of functionality are impacting our goals.
A fundamental part of our development is integrating best-in-class analytics that allow us to measure success, understand user behavior, and draw insights into how specific pieces of functionality are impacting our goals. A sound analytics strategy is just as important as your product strategy. It must be proactively managed and prioritized into your product backlog, not done in haste as an afterthought (which is unfortunately all too common).
We are always seeking improvement. Once a product is live, we look at the customer lifecycle through 5 different stages:
Depending on your business goals, one of these stages typically needs more attention than others. We work with our clients to focus our energy on the biggest leverage points for improving the product and ultimately creating business value. With clear goals, a specific budget, robust analytics, and a well-groomed product backlog, you will have all the information you need to make informed decisions, take calculated risks, and demonstrate progress to your key stakeholders.