Product Vision and Development Strategies


At small-sized and medium-sized software product development companies, it is often difficult to manage the product development and evolution cycles. Among the issues frequently inhibiting growth in these organizations:

  • Lack of appropriate product management processes – how do we define product features and priorities based on both customer input
    and internal innovation;
  • Lack of appropriate software development process. This usually takes one of two forms:
  • Little to no process, leading to wildly unpredictable release cycles, quality issues, etc.
  • Too much (inappropriate) process. Usually as a rebound to situation 1, the over-abundance of process leads to paralysis, stifling of innovation, and outrageous development costs
  • Lack of control of the requirements change process
  • Inability to separate client-specific product customizations from core product development. Usually, the main symptom of this is the uncontrolled number of unique, fielded versions of the product (worst case, 1 per customer), leading to a situation more like a series of “one of” implementations rather than a true product.

Over the past 15 years, at both Virtual Universe and Whitehill Technologies, I have spent a considerable portion of my time defining medium and long-term product strategies for product development organizations, helping to overcome issues such as those described above.

Among the strategies I have developed:

1)     Definition of product management approaches for the incorporation of both customer-based and internal innovation-based requirements.

2)     The concept of “just enough process”. Through my experience in large-scale military and aerospace projects, I have seen firsthand the benefits of strong, well-defined development process. Unfortunately, I have also seen the dangers of “process run wild”, and that fact the having strong processes are a necessary but not sufficient part of successful software development. I have also learned that the processes defined in these “formal” environments, while useful, are far too heavy for agile, cost-constrained businesses. Thus the concept of “just enough process” – what aspects of the heavy, formal processes provide the most bang-for-the-buck, without crushing a small development shop.

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Please keep in mind that any opinions, points-of-view, comments, or other content which I post to this site are mine and mine alone. They in no way reflect the views of my employer, my country, my dog, my cat, or anyone else you can think of. To paraphrase Monty Python, "That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is, too."

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