With competition in tech increasing, businesses are scrambling over one another to develop the next big thing. While predicting the future of technology can have big payoffs, too much focus on what's ahead can make you lose track of what's at hand.
Companies are now forced to build tech products at an extreme pace, risking failure, burnout and self-sabotage. The cost of a faulty new product can prove too much for some companies to bear, forcing them to shrink or close entirely. In order to ensure continual growth for your business, you need to make sure that you're developing your products properly.
Taking on the world of tech is never a small task, and companies need to protect themselves against potential hiccups -- here are a few ways to avoid serious errors in the process:
1. Pace yourself.
There's no easier way to sabotage your own development process than with a jam-packed schedule. Video game developer Rockstar made headlines a couple years ago for its problems with crunch time, requiring some employees to work upwards of 100 hours a week in order to meet deadlines. Pushing a project's time limits can increase burnout, send costs through the roof, and result in a shoddy final result.
The challenge is rarely making the schedule: it's making the schedule work for you. Set regular checkpoints along your product's developmental journey where you can take stock and readjust where needed. Try creating ideal date ranges instead of setting hard dates, leaving a bit of breathing room for your team as the finish line approaches.
2. Switch things up.
When you're knee-deep in the development process, it can sometimes feel as though you have blinders on -- all that matters is the end goal, and nothing's going to stop you from getting there. While having a healthy stock of motivation is key, getting too deep into the weeds on your project can end up doing more harm than good. If you're hoping to avoid unnecessary mistakes, take a step back and look at the big picture.
Oftentimes, switching things up can be as simple as stepping out of the office -- a recent study from Harvard University found that leaving your normal space and working close to nature can increase productivity, happiness, and creativity. On a smaller scale, taking brief breaks during intense periods of work can help you catch your breath and ensure you're not steamrolling over any small details in the development process.
3. Avoid feature creep.
If you haven't experienced feature creep yet, it will likely strike sooner rather than later. A new product is defined by what it can and can't do, so the temptation to make it do as much as possible can sometimes be overwhelming. Even if you've set boundaries for your product, polishing and expanding its capabilities can sometimes eat up more time than it should.
There's no surefire way to avoid feature creep, but a few rules of thumb can help you prevent its onset, the best of which is to focus on the problem your product is solving. Gabb Wireless, a phone designed for kids, found that too many connectivity features were in modern smartphones for kids to use safely and started to make more stripped-back phones as an alternative. By centering in on a specific issue they were hoping to tackle, Gabb created a framework that forced them to only incorporate the most necessary features -- preventing them from any self-sabotage in the process.
4. Be aware of your limitations.
It doesn't matter whether you're a one-person business or you're a global company like IBM-- your company cannot do everything. Knowing your limitations can sometimes be a painful process, but it will keep you from shooting too high when developing your next product. Just because a certain feature would look really cool on your product doesn't mean that you can incorporate it -- or even should.
Before each major project, make a capability inventory of your business: how many workers you will be able to allocate, how much work can they do in a given timeframe, and what your budget is. Plan every step of your development process with this inventory in mind. No matter how big your dreams are, you should be designing and executing projects that your team can manage, not forcing your team to handle projects too large for them to properly work on.
Your competitors are already working overtime trying to one-up your products -- don't give them a helping hand. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many software engineers, UX designers, or product managers you have: it's your responsibility to ensure that all of your releases are of the highest quality, and these tips can help you do just that.