How to Establish a Base for Successful Digital Project
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Key to Successful Web App Development and Launch

  • Xenia Liashko
  • 2019-11-26 18:25:04

We сontinue to unpack how to create a strategically successful digital project. in the first part of our manual, we talked about possible problems that could occur in the first stages and learn how to set a foundation for a successful digital project

Now we'll talk about checking with differing opinions from key stakeholders, finding must-see features and right tools. 

Digital Project Development: Stakeholders

As important as setting goals, identifying key stakeholders during product development is critical. The idea of ​​creating an app is exciting and new to many, which often means that many want to be involved in the process. Often, projects suffer from "too many chefs in the kitchen," where meetings may be overcrowded with too many different opinions and may diverge from the original focus.

Limiting meetings to key stakeholders is critical to achieving project goals. In addition, with longer project durations, participation in meetings or interest may decrease over time. It is important that the core team is regularly present at weekly status meetings. When others insist on being there, you should use tools like Trello and organize meetings to keep the rest of the team informed about the progress.

Note that team members from different disciplines have strong and different opinions. This is not necessarily negative, as the depiction from different areas may contribute to a well-rounded product. "Fresh Eyes" are always helpful when it comes to stepping back and escaping the curse of knowledge for those who are involved in the project stand next.

In cases where you see strong opinions, do not be afraid to backfire. One of our guiding principles is to "fight for the user". Projects may be under pressure from stakeholders to expect expectations of what to deliver, both in terms of schedule and functions and budget. It is important to create a workable schedule and identify the functionality that makes the most sense for your users (ie, the Tentpole features) and to meet the needs of your stakeholders.

Finally, it is important to develop a better sense of the key stakeholders involved in the project. We use a "personal onboarding" form to get an idea of ​​who our key stakeholders are as humans. This includes questions to learn about their responsibilities until their ideal day off. This helps everyone to interact more seamlessly.

App Must-Have Features Determination

Web App Development: Internal Discussion

Stakeholders often come to the table with a large number of ideas and ready-made opinions on what they consider a core element. For this reason, it is important to collect all the background information and allow everyone to express their opinion and have a chance to be heard. We call this "initial data dump", which provides the ability to learn business rules and background context, and to work on ideas for initial functions, no matter how simple or difficult to implement. Due to the amount of data collected, it is important to divide things into meaningful groups. It's important to write down the first ideas, but it helps to classify them into general groups as feasible:

  • Tentpole features: These are the core features that are critical to the success of the app and should be included in a 1.0 release.
  • Immediate Roadmap: Features that should be prioritized immediately after the first release and that have the most impact.
  • One day: These are features that are interesting ideas, but do not necessarily have the biggest immediate impact or ROI.
  • Kill: Ideas that just do not work because of implementation difficulties or other potential obstacles, potential abuse, and so on. We prefer to kill these ideas instead of finding them later.

Work Ideas With Stakeholders

After the first data dump, a clearer picture usually starts to form around the tent poles. In the early days of a project, discussions with key stakeholders should be held frequently and as quickly as possible. If you can coordinate everyone's schedules, try touching the base several times a week during the recognition process. Focusing on a core set of functions and thinking through is the key, but you should always remember and refer to goals. Ask questions: How can you work towards goals without neglecting the user experience? How can you continue to focus on your core differentiation factor? Which feature or properties are absolutely necessary as a Tentpole, that the product is DOA without it?

Web App Development Team: Tools

At EightDevs, we often use a variety of brainstorming and brainstorming activities to narrow our focus to tent pole functions and create a preliminary product roadmap. Here are some useful tactics that you can use to engage stakeholders and limit your focus.

Brainstorming Meeting

The idea of ​​this activity is quantity over quality. It allows all team members to get involved and engage, ensuring that key potential features are not overlooked.

  • In a group setting, assign all participants a set amount of time to work out as many ideas as possible, write them down one at a time, and then share them with the larger group setting
  • Nothing should be off the table in this session, no matter how difficult or impracticable ideas may be.
  • All generated feature ideas should first be recorded in a "one-day" list in your roadmap

Card Sorting

This activity helps remove duplicates from the brainstorming session and group similar ideas.

  • All features should be noted on sticky notes and edited by the collective team, either personally or remotely (Google Slides are helpful if you do this remotely).
  • Card sorting also helps to organize the hierarchy of your functionality in general.

Choose Features 

We use voting to determine which features will have the most impact (usage, engagement, ROI, etc.).

  • After sorting the cards, the stakeholders agree on what functions they think are most important in a given group
  • Each stakeholder receives between 2 and 5 votes and can vote on the features he believes are the most valuable
  • Participants can even vote for the same feature multiple times if they find it particularly valuable

Difficult Against vs Effect Ranking

Once the voting is completed, all features that have been reconciled should be assigned a "T-shirt" effort — small, medium or large.

  • If you have the bandwidth, it's good to get an overview of the development team members' efforts on what to do for a feature instead of accepting the difficulty without their perspective

If you've assigned a T-shirt size for the effort, you'll also assign an impact level. This is the meaning of an impact that a particular feature might have on your business or organization.

  • Small has little or no effect, and Big changes the game (for example, a significant impact on the Roi, the total number of users, etc.).

Finally, chart features based on difficulty versus impact. This visualization can help you identify a possible set of tentpole features and really categorize your features into Tentpole, Instant, One Day, and Kill. We have provided an example to show the final product.

Validation

The above information provides a context for who needs to be involved, what types of exercises to use, and how to narrow your ideas down to a more precise product roadmap. However, several validation levels should be used during your discovery process.

As mentioned above, market research and competitive analysis should be conducted at the beginning of the process. Knowing your place in the marketplace can help you better understand the potential for the success of your product and set long-term goals.

User surveys and interviews are required to confirm the conclusions you have about the actual wishes of your users.

Consider a combination of tactics, including surveys and user test sessions, and interviews to gather information. Rapid prototyping is also a viable option that allows you to test certain features without investing much time, energy or budget. With prototyping, you can easily change and evolve your product before moving to a much more definitive place where it's much harder to make changes.

How to Make a Good Digital Project: Conclusion

In the end, the two most important things to keep in mind are: What do your users want, and without what can your product not be successful? It is important to consider these important points throughout the recognition process.

Ultimately, you always have to think ahead. Too often, stakeholders only look at what's right in front of them. If you go to the market, you should already have several versions planned and aggressively review your long-term roadmap. Keep the success metrics in the foreground and determine how you can iterate to better achieve your goals.

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