Change your product development process to deliver products customers love

Product development process - 5 shifts to deliver valuable products

This article was featured in our Ideas to Impact newsletter. Each month we explore the ideas that create real impact with exclusive insights from our team to help accelerate your strategic business outcomes. Subscribe today to receive each issue in your inbox as soon as it’s published.

Building products quickly to meet customer needs is more important than ever, especially as customer expectations continue to evolve. It’s not enough to simply focus on building things right, companies must focus more on building the right thing in the first place with a customer-centric product development process.

At its heart, product development is about discovering what customers really need, then bringing that valuable product to market. In an ideal world, products are developed incrementally and iteratively, with fast feedback loops to improve product quality and rapid experimentation to validate that the product is actually fulfilling customer needs.

However, many traditional product development processes and approaches have become so bureaucratic that what the customer values is no longer even a central factor in product development. And in turn, companies end up releasing products long past their relevancy, over-budget, or worse yet, products that simply don’t meet customer needs. Ouch.

Organizations need a better way to think about delivering value that embraces customer-centricity with iterative and incremental development cycles, fast and frequent customer feedback, and experimentation to keep product quality high. And it all starts with changing your mindset from project management toward product management.

Customer-centric product development

Leaders who successfully embrace a customer-centric product development process think differently about delivering value and we see these differences in five strategic organizational shifts:

  • Organizing by function and department products and value streams
    Prioritize work that delivers the most value to customers by understanding how your company delivers value throughout the organization
  • Funding short-term projects capability for the long-term
    Prioritize building enduring key capabilities by arming teams with budgets to maintain the continuous development of the product
  • Competing for budget value propositions
    Prioritize focusing on where value exists and how product teams might validate it throughout an experimental development process
  • Governing for certainty experimentation
    Prioritize continual product evaluation and validation to gain insight into what’s working and enable increased agility in building the right thing
  • Cultivating a culture of control empowerment
    Prioritize ensuring that your team has the information they need to do the best job possible, and is empowered to experiment and learn from mistakes
diagram showing five strategic organizational shifts showing what people should move from on the left and to on the right
5 strategic organizational shifts needed to embrace customer-centric product development

Dig deeper into these five shifts in your product development process and how you can implement them in your organization in our Moving from projects to products thought paper.