When I entered the software development industry, it was standard practice to spend months mapping plans for every project. We’d write dozens of requirement documents – filled with details and bullet points – all working toward an ultimate outcome.
But our software systems didn’t always accomplish the results we desired, and our clients were rarely satisfied – let alone delighted. Our path to what we thought was success was trying to predict everything up front, then slowly building the system. We wouldn’t release a product until everything was complete.
In the meantime, I was pursuing several personal projects, one of which turned into Tourneytopia, a system designed for custom bracketology contests. With Tourneytopia, however, we implemented an entirely different process. We figured out how to start by building the least amount possible but enough that it would work and start to make money. Was it perfect? No. Was it exactly what we envisioned for the platform? Not even close.
Yet, we were able to launch something and begin testing, receiving user feedback, and identifying plans for improvement. Almost every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, we incrementally added additional features, as the product evolved. Today, Tourneytopia is in its 15th year of operation and was recently used by Microsoft for a sales contest.
Eventually, I had an epiphany. Why was I operating one way for clients and a completely different, entirely more efficient way for my personal projects?
I realized we weren’t as afraid to fail when we were bootstrapping from our kitchen table. We certainly had a vision, but we were able to select the pieces we had the most chance of being successful with and incrementally build systems that produced value. We didn’t have everything ready at launch, but we were able to delight our customers much sooner this way.
We realized this was a radically different way of operating in the early 2000’s.
A Deeper Dive into the Product Mindset | How a Product Mindset Works
Projects have their time and place; however, a project that meets deadlines, stays within budget, and fits the agreed-upon scope can still result in a bad product. We love the line the Scrum writers use to describe this concept: “The result will be [that the] operation succeeded (the project) but the patient died (the product).
When you start thinking about a software system as a product you add value right away in small increments. A product mindset includes mapping your scope – focusing on the long-term investment – balancing priorities and mitigating risk.
There are two main reasons for adopting a product mindset: 1. You’ll gain the ability to properly manage your scope and 2. You’ll reduce your fear that software projects are a massive risk. These are valid concerns because, when done wrong, software projects can be never-ending and a waste of money. You should never invest time and money into something just to leave it on the shelf when the next thing comes around.
This is why Augusto Digital chooses a product mindset; it eliminates these risks by ensuring you have a functional system within a short, designated amount of time. We’ll work through your vision side-by-side, identifying small, actionable steps toward building a tangible project that can grow and evolve over time.
Building Trust through a Product Mindset
A couple of years ago we helped a large agricultural company implement a product mindset. In their business, it’s essential to track the movement of cattle between various locations over their life cycle. By adopting a product mindset, we were able to migrate their spreadsheet-intensive system into a functional business system. The system included a web interface used by office workers and a mobile app with data synchronization that was used on the farms. We focused on small pieces of software, continuously testing and improving after each sprint.
The client quickly grew eager for more. They were so delighted in the first few product releases and were able to justify the ongoing value of the project internally. The company soon grew confident in our method, opening the door for a wonderful, long-term relationship.
Those of you who have never worked in an environment where a product mindset was modeled may be hesitant to change or you may have leadership that may take some convincing. While you may hear that it has worked for others in your industry, it usually takes a leap of faith to try it for the first time.
By nature product mindset the leap isn’t as great, the risk is lower and if it’s not working we all walk away without huge losses.
At Augusto Digital, we want to revolutionize the way you do business by helping you quickly create a tangible product that drives value and, ultimately, helps you grow and optimize your business.
If you’re ready to radically improve the way you work, give me a call at 616-427-1914 or email@example.com.