This post series is about the process of turning an idea into a business product as we do it here at Digital Natives. There are many cases when a team contacts us to sign an NDA because they have a great idea they want to develop into a working product. Although there are cases when the idea is really elaborated, specified (and even copyrighted), most of the time it is just an idea, a bunch of thoughts that sound interesting and might work if...
This is a very big IF. At Digital Natives, we believe that a lot of money can be saved and a better product developed if the team is willing to do the homework and go through the sometimes painful process of planning.
In this series, we’ll touch on the major elements of the product planning phases. Please note that this is not a Lean or customer development blog - although these are the primary methods we use. Here we will do our best to demonstrate how non-geeks can turn their startup ideas into legible documents for developers, designers, UX experts and other specific human beings. The documents below are never carved in stone, we like to think of them as a flexible, ever evolving representations of the idea or a compass that will show the general direction of product development.
In other words, if you are a startup or Product Manager and you want to work together with an implementation team (developers, designers), you should make sure that you have the following documents.
Concept document, which describes the product in a few sentences: who will use it, for what, what is the problem the product solves, what is the business hypothesis and the possible business models. More is more in this case, and by that, I mean we like to read a lot of information about possible user habits, the market, etc.
User workflows, which describe the user activities by roles, we like to use LucidChart for creating simple diagrams.
Product roadmap document, which describes a desired velocity of the development, and the main milestones and its scope: 1st prototype - eg. user interface testing, 1st alpha release - basic features, 1st beta release - basic features fine tuned based on the feedback, Minimum Viable Product.
Wireframes of the main screens. At the beginning these can be sketches on paper, later we prefer to use Mockflow. (This is a parallel activity of creating the backlog.)
Product backlog in user story format, which describes the features in more details - this is still a human document and not a tech spec. The main purpose of this doc is to set the complexity, criterias and the priorities of the development by milestones. In other words, this is a detailed view of the roadmap. Here is more info and here is a sample for that.
Images, which describe the logo, colors, UI/UX elements.
Comments and ideas are more than welcome. Join us on this journey! I hope we can share our expertise and help you with your own development experience. We are sure that we’ll learn a lot from you too. So please be prepared for writing the CONCEPT DOCUMENT in the next post.