How do we get there? And it is difficult also for corporations to define this point.
The main question is always the same: has everything been done and undertaken, that there is a product without any failures or misfunctions ready to be offered? The answer is simple: No. The perfect product to definition does not exist anymore. I am not sure if it ever existed.
Product Development is very often a demoralizing process. It is in conjunction with ideas, rebounds and miss ratings. Engineering is one part, but many rules and specifications must be involved that it can get acceptance in certain segments. Two industries may stand as an example: automotive and aircraft. Volumes and quantities are looking attractive, but the barriers are high. And the business with this industry is rarely profitable, except the products is unique and has no competition. Costs for development and testing need to be refunded with the revenue (sales) and not to forget the profit. Tests are normally time consuming and can take years. This time delay needs to be considered for the financial planning. This can lead to frustration and distress. Investors are waiting for results and the team need to keep motivated. In most cases the management is at the same time the whole team.
Here comes an important advantage compared to a bigger organization. Bigger organizations have stakeholders from different functions involved in all phases of the development. Every stakeholder will decide in safe modus. They are risk-adverse. This can cause a massive delay of the product-launch. What about the startup? Flat hierarchy, short path for decision, willing to take risk. These 3 factors can accelerate decision in light velocity.
It is standard, that products for OEM – applications are developed and tested together with the OEM-customer. This starts already during the proto-type-phase. OEM’s are facing pressure for early launch to be ahead of the competition. Both parties will sign an NDA and the joint development process takes off.
If the same product is also planned to be offered on the generic public market, there is the option to run a risk-analysis. In most cases customers are willing to join for field-tests similar like the software industry for Beta-Versions. This solves time and the product can be sold already. The team can celebrate first revenue-stream as a success. From the first deliveries we can expect early feedback about experiences in the field.
Decision of ready-enough
Development teams are keen to provide a product which is 100% perfect. Customers do not expect 100%, because they do not know, what 100% means. They are guided by their expectation. It is vital, to check permanently, whether the product matches the expectation or not. Next step is to decide, at which status the product fulfills the requirement. It is important to identify the ready-enough-point and decide to stop. All features above this point need to be “stored”. This ensures, that the customer does not get any feature for free. Every customer will start to renegotiate delivery conditions after some time. It is helpful to have features available to offer instead of discounting the price. These features from the shelf can be used for the next product-upgrade.
The most important tool is the roadmap with a clear timeline. This will guide from the idea through the development process to the launch. OEM Customers will request this in most cases.
The official product launch is an important mile stone for the startup. With the prototyping and beta-testing it has passed the baby diseases will satisfy further OEM and consumers. It is party-time!