The steps you need to take to optimise your chances of successful product release
A successful software product release starts with thorough planning. Even if you rush to get your product to market faster than your competitors, you better speed up on the planning, rather with a release itself.
Many businesses release their products too early to comply with strict deadlines. For those who are looking to do comprehensive planning before action, we have prepared a “7-point checklist for successful product releases”.
To get the inside scoop, we spoke with a subject matter expert on product release planning, Nazar Zarubii. He is a CTO for one of Intellias’ largest projects. He is responsible for the successful product release on behalf of an award-winning B2B software provider specialising in FinTech and iGaming solutions.
One of its core products, a payment integration platform, was shortlisted for The IT Project of the Year nomination at GSA UK Awards 2017.
Here’s our interview with Nazar and his professional advice on preparing for a successful software product release.
Tristan: Hi Nazar, can you tell me what is your role at Intellias?
Nazar: I am the Chief Technical Officer for a number of Intellias projects, one of my main roles is as CTO of the aforementioned iGaming company focussing on its payment processing products.
Tristan: What are the typical problems tech companies face when releasing a software product to market and how can we avoid them?
Nazar: The most common challenge for basically every company is deploying to production.
We’ve faced it when deploying our own applications, because there are strict industry requirements for payment integration solutions such as the compliance with international certificates (in our case, PCI DSS Level 1).
In the past, this has caused some delays, but eventually, everything worked and the deployment was finished successfully.
Tristan: That was an important insight into the technical side of the release process. Can you give us an example of the most successful product releases you’ve been involved with?
Nazar: That would be the payment processing project, which has ambitious plans for global rollout. The project started in 2015 and was successfully released in 2017 and is still being developed and continuously improved.
In just 8 months, we delivered production code and obtained PCI DSS Level 1 certificate which allows to process payments with credit cards, which was a great success for us as we didn’t have previous experience in this area.
We’ve also commenced with a significant migration process from the existing system to the new one, which is due for completion in a few weeks.
Tristan: Can you tell us about the 7 key points you’ve learned about successful releasing products and which ones are the most important?
Nazar: There is a checklist we go through to identify if everything on the project has been done properly. So here are the key points:
- Set up a Senior-level core team and gain knowledge from the client’s side. We assembled a dedicated team for the payment processing project within three weeks and started working on the project at full throttle. It was important to quickly establish effective communications with the client. At the beginning of the project, the Product Owner was spending one week a month in our office, to share knowledge on the project and to clarify many of the requirements. This was extremely helpful.
- Develop an MVP applying Lean methodology. As we had some previous operational experience with processing payments, our team was able to offer solutions within a very short timeframe. We started with a proof of concept and in our 1st sprint we already had a successful transaction with our payment provider and continued with adding new features. Our approach resulted in developing the MVP within 9 months.
- Thorough collection of user feedback. After the MVP was developed, it was presented to the public on the ICE Totally Gaming event in London, so potential customers could start testing it and help us to improve the product based on their feedback.
- Act on user feedback as soon as possible. I should note that we didn’t develop the product from scratch as there was already a platform for processing payments. Our job was to migrate users from the existing platform to the newly developed platform.
Hence, we were already receiving a lot of feedback from the users, which actually bolstered our understanding of ways of improving the app.
5. Introduce project performance management. After we received feedback, we sought to establish performance KPIs and metrics, so that we were ready for measuring fluctuation in product usage. It was very important for us to know exact metrics of how the new product was performing on the market.
6. Get ready for market. Having started measuring KPIs, we were ready to release the product. Because there is no limit to perfection, we needed to be open enough to provide ourselves feedback on our process, and in doing so gauge whether the product is ready or not. It’s important to make data-driven decision based on feedback. But also, if you see that the product is ready and cannot be perfected further, you can proceed with launch. Still, there is always room for continuous improvement, maintenance and support of new features based on market reaction.
7. Campaign monitoring. Once the product is in the market you need to be attentive to every detail by measuring metrics and KPIs to find weaknesses and ways for improvement. Product lifecycle is much longer than just the path from idea to initial release. You should always have some backup plan and be gathering ideas for improving the product.
Once the product is in the market you need to be attentive to every detail by measuring metrics and KPIs to find weaknesses and ways for improvement.Click to tweet
Tristan: Why are DevOps so important for a successful product release?
Nazar: We have very strict system requirements, which in turn create a lot of work for DevOps and Network engineers. These professionals are involved with optimising the delivery process.
Tristan: In conclusion what would you say on the importance of being agile and using Lean methodology?
Nazar: There is always an opportunity for continuous improvements based on user and market feedback. A successful product release in my mind is almost impossible without applying Lean methodology. It helps with better communication, optimises our planning within fixed sprint cycles and also facilitates more effective ways of fixing problems.
Tristan: Thank you very much for your time Nazar. Your experience with developing, improving and maintaining this application will be very interesting and useful for those who are in a process of product release.
Nazar Zarubii is a CTO on one of the biggest Intellias’ projects and .NET Team Lead with 13-year experience in delivering projects of various complexity. He is responsible for a successful product release and compliance with all tech and business requirements.