Is Go Live the destination in the product development journey?
Is Go Live the destination in the product development journey?
A product is quite often a response to a felt need or a definite challenge or a perceived opportunity. We hit the market with something new or different or an improved version of an existing product because we believe we have the right solution. In the journey of product development, all the energies go into hitting that milestone of app goes live. The obvious question for the product manager and the development team is what next? Shall we get on to the next great app we want to build?
Well. The launch of an app is, in reality, the beginning of the app’s actual journey triggering a whole new set of activities – of maintenance, support, marketing, improvement, and innovation – for the product manager. It is very easy to get into the pitfall of confining post-launch product development activity to only maintenance and support, leave the marketing to the marketers, and lose sight of improvement and innovation completely. A winning app is one that is useful, attractive, discoverable, shareable, error-free, scalable, flexible and most importantly constantly improving. The fact is that perfection across all these counts is a misnomer, thanks to constantly changing technology, market and customer preferences. The mantra for the product manager, therefore, is a constant improvement, not perfection.
The post goes a life journey of product development and management can be looked at under a few major streams of activities.
The marketing of your app, once it is launched, is, of course, the responsibility of the marketing team not of the development team or the product manager. However, the product manager plays a crucial role of a bridge between development and marketing during conceptualization, development and launch phases; and this collaboration between development and marketing exists both during pre-launch and post-launch. Providing the right kind of technology and information inputs to the marketing team and responding to their market insights quickly – during and post go-live – makes product development more aligned to the business goals and success of the app.
2. Customer Engagement
The ultimate test of the applies in its ‘buy-in’ from the customers. Here lies the second biggest contribution from the product manager to the entire development journey (the first being effectively translating the concept into a product through visioning, research, and cross-team collaboration). Building the right kind of mechanism for taking user feedback is one part of the game. The other is constant monitoring of feedback, constant interaction with the customers and listening. The channels for listening include rating & reviews, emails, and online forums. Probably one of the most time consuming yet rewarding mechanisms is building an active community of users where people share experiences, new ideas, and honest feedback. This rich information will be the fodder for future updates, new features, and even new apps.
The success of the applies to the team having to spend the least amount of time on this. If all the bases have been covered well during the development phase, the possibility of having to debug fixing will be minimal. Beyond bug fixing, the success of Maintenance lies in keeping a close watch on the changes in the technology landscape. The introduction of a new technology can, quite often, open up avenues to increase the productivity and efficiency of the app. Similarly, the evolution in technologies and the upgrades to operating systems can often have a huge impact on the performance, usability, and relevance of your app. It is but imperative to keep a close watch on the changing technology landscape and accordingly make the app keep pace.
The other end of the maintenance spectrum, as well as customer engagement, is the support.Does your app have round the clock support mechanism? Can customers easily find answers to their issues or questions? Do you have a technology – social media – expert advice ecosystem to support the users in a manner that enhances the overall experience of the product?
Your app could have thousands or even millions of users. But in a competitive market, every user must be treated with care. You should make it a practice to reply to a customer review or concern within a few hours or the same day.
While maintenance and support are hygiene aspects, engagement is at the intersection of marketing and service, monitoring the performance of the app is literally the vehicle for the successful journey of the app post goes live. App metrics and analytics are integral and neverending parts of the app journey.
While revenue and/or a number of downloads/installations is a good indicator of the success of your app, they do not tell the complete story. There is a wide range of metrics to choose and monitor to make important decisions on the features, upgrades, tweaks, and marketing of the app. Some of the important measures to track include, active users, cost per acquisition, retention rate, and lifetime value.
It is not enough to monitor the performance your app. To gain a competitive edge, it is critical to monitor what the completion is doing both in terms of product and marketing. This will help you position your app better, tweak it better, and differentiate it better. In one of the most competitive businesses ever – the app economy – the threat of your app becoming ‘anotherapp’ is real.
Thanks to a rapid change in technology and user behavior and the increasing use of agile methodologies, innovation today is not only about big bang improvements or complete disruption. Innovation is also about constant improvements to meet new demands and seize new opportunities.
In order to continuously provide value and keep your customers engaged, you have to continuously improve and update your app. You have to constantly explore new ideas and new ways on how to improve the business performance of your app.
If you are looking for an intelligent, experienced and globally competitive technology partner to build a new app, or enhance your current app or expand your product portfolio with a complete perspective –talk to Hakuna Matata.