Project management teaches five phases to project delivery, which are widely accepted. In the software world these don’t translate well, however. If you build a product to offer a service, projects rarely are closed out fully. Instead, product development’s happens one initiative at a time.
Whether building a platform, service, SAAS tool, or anything of the sort, companies don’t build and deliver a product and then move on to the next. They iterate: come up with an idea to improve the product, implement it and track how it went, and then they search for the next idea to start over.
This is what this initiative cycle looks like:
And these are the phases:
- Research and ideation
- Make sense of the data available, sift through feedback, look for patterns and formulate an idea.
- Project formulation and stakeholder feedback
- Elaborate on the idea, evaluate different options for the concrete project and present to the stakeholders. Based on their feedback, pick one option as the selected approach.
- Refinement and stakeholder approval
- Turn the selected project idea into a plan. Formulate outcomes, outputs and failure criteria, and get buy-in from stakeholders.
- Value creation
- Break down the plan into individual steps and work packages, implement it, seek feedback and acceptance by stakeholders, and deliver value.
- Follow-up and data gathering
- Continue to monitor usage of the new feature, functionality or product, evaluate success of the project and gather data about it.
The cycle illustrates how this process feeds on itself. It’s not simply done and delivered, finishing one initiative yields new information that naturally feeds back into the process to start a new initiative. It’s the engine for continuous product improvement.