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Product development practices

The following article is a sample from the full BVOP™ Ultimate Guide and is part of the preparation for the BVOP™'s modern Agile Product Management Certification Program.

Product development practices in the context of BVOP are focused on crafting concepts, creating artifacts, designing prototypes, testing results, and creating final usable end-results.

Whatever practices are used for product development, the BVOPDM office needs to implement practices that ensure valid and actual end-results. Recommended steps include:

  • Creating concepts.
  • Validation of the concepts with users with product knowledge.
  • Creation of functional prototypes.
  • Testing the prototypes by users with product knowledge.
  • Creation of a usable end-result.
  • Testing the end-result by users with product knowledge.

Users with product knowledge may be considered as:

  • Real users already using or intending to use the product or using a similar product
  • Potential users
  • Representatives with extensive product knowledge

End-result: feature, part of a product, module or current version

Creating concepts

The concept in the context of the BVOP is not a functional prototype or any other piece of work that requires extensive time or resource consumption. Concepts may be drawings, videos, sketches, paper prototypes, wireframes, charts, explanatory text materials, or any other piece of material that can present an early idea and vision about the future product or parts of the product. 

The sources for the creation of the concepts is the product vision and the previously gathered information from internal organizational assets and the external third parties or other users or sources with product and market knowledge.

Concepts have to be created fast to avoid time wastes and have to present their ideas clearly.

They present realistic user needs coverage, solutions, values.

Validating the concepts with users with product knowledge

After a concept is created, a validation process needs to confirm its value and realism or reject it.

Users with product knowledge evaluate the concept during a validation session. Users point weak and strong features. 

Validation session requires the participation of more than one individual and rejecting or accepting the concept is a group process.

If a concept is fully rejected, a new concept, presenting a clear idea, should be created fast. 

If a concept has some value, its positives are documented, and the next concepts are based on them.

Creating functional prototypes

After a concept is validated and approved, creating a functional prototype may provide a more valuable and precise vision of the end product or some of its features.

A functional prototype in the context of the BVOP is a material expression and a result of the previous concept that is validated and accepted and includes a more realistic presentation of the product. It may be a physical model or very early-stage version of a software or other digital product.

The product features are usually only visually presented, simulated where applicable, or implemented at some working level with minimum effort and quality. 

Testing the prototypes by users with product knowledge

Testing the prototypes ensures a level of confidence in the future development. After a functional prototype is built on some satisfactory level, it should be validated against the real user needs, experience, expectations, and usability issues.

Users with product knowledge test the functional prototype, and their feedback is recorded for future use in the prototype improvements and development.

Testing the prototypes for usability issues may be conducted with any popular user testing protocol, such as Cognitive walkthrough, Think-aloud protocol, Wizard of Oz, or any other method suitable for testing the prototypes. 

Modifications or methods, mixtures, and creating custom testing protocols are also recommended.

After the test sessions, some issues are usually documented, and improvements of the prototype may be implemented.

Creating a usable end result

After the prototype is validated and agreed upon as satisfactory, the teams develop the real product or parts of it. At this stage, all the product concepts and prototypes are evaluated as accurate and reliable. The product development continues to the end-goals.

This stage is usually the longest and requires massive amounts of time, resources, communications, a collaboration between many teams inside the organization.

Testing the end-result by users with product knowledge

Just like the prototypes, the end-result needs to be tested regularly against real user needs, experience, expectations, and usability issues.

A test and validation session after every major update of the end-result is proof that the product is being developed following the precise needs and business direction.

It is good practice to create and maintain a brief record during product development that can help with all testing and validation in the future.

When the end-result is released, and it is in a real-world environment, it is strongly recommended the behavior of a large number of real users is tracked, recorded, and analyzed. 

Product development practices in Product Management
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