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The Problem

Software companies often build products too quickly

It's well known by now the biggest problem software companies have the most companies have in general is building something to quickly before they validate whether people actually want it.

What's not immediately apparent when people actually discuss this problem now is how much this problem actually costs.

Building the wrong product is immensely expensive in a number of ways. Not only is the cost of engineering huge, but also the cost building the wrong product has on your ability to innovate your cost to maintain the existing product you've already built out the loss of momentum and drain a human capital have material effects on your business.

The Stakes

What happens when software companies build the wrong features

When software companies build the wrong products another way that we could describe what they're actually doing is building the wrong set of features for users now this can happen in two different ways first they could build the wrong set of features for the users that they've identified that they actually want or they could build the rights of the features for the wrong set of users/customers.

Both of these problems create long-term negative effects for business.

When you build the wrong set of features for your ideal set of customers and users you simply don't get traction. The people who you want to buy from you and the customers he like to invite in to your product ecosystem,  simply show little interest and if they do become acquired as customers your product suffers poor attention for holding them.

However what's much worse is actually a result that's much more common: building a set of features for users and customers you don't want, but creates a sense of traction that distorts and hurts your product and brand's positioning.

Costs of engineering resources and customer support

Engineering and customer support resources are not cheap.

While many companies are wary of investing in customer research the truth is that most companies overspend an engineer and not because they're hiring talent that they overpay for,  but instead that their engineer in teams talent is often being misused to build products and work on implementing features that have not been properly validated through the lines of customer research and validation.

What happens when software companies focus on the wrong users

Cost to revenue, product reputation, brand value, and customer price sensitivity

Once companies have built the wrong software features it's difficult to not support an active and existing user base.

Users and customers have expectations just like anyone else and your friend immediately becomes associated with your ability to maintain the viability and quality of service from the existing product.

It doesn't matter that the product you've built has garnered a sense of traction that you now find to be more like handcuffs than a golden-goose, your businesses reputation is now attached to it.

Immediately abandoning a product is not a good look even if the product no longer serves the business use case you depended on in order to maintain its viability.

The Solution

An exhaustive customer research process to validate customer interest

The solution to avoiding building the wrong software product and features is following a complete customer research and validation process.

Customer research identifies and validates your key business assumptions about how people will use your product. It also prevents you from investing into product features and user goals that don't extend your product's value to customers, their lifetime value to you, or attract the types of users and usage that dilute your brand and or product's value.

Customer research and validation includes interviewing and identifying all relevant and important stakeholder types, testing your product and prototypes, and systematically removing bias from within the customer research process. It is this last requirement of customer research that is most challenging.

The Challenge

How customer research goes wrong

Customer research often goes wrong in the process of collecting and interpreting it.

While there are various means in which you can collect custom research it is always the case that both asking questions and how they are interpreted are easily swayed by both the way in which they're being asked who is asking them who is incentives are influenced by the result in their interpretation and most importantly finding further evidence to validate previous claims.

The Process

Customer interviews

Customer interviews should focus on validating your initial hypothesis around who will be buying your products. These interviews qualify and disqualify purchase interest, identify additional relevant stakeholder types, identify problem settings, scope, and specific customer language. Customer interviews must validate if not identify unsolved problems that people actually care about.

UI/UX Breakdown of the entire competitive landscape

Building successful software products not only depends on idenfying unmet

User testing

Customer research analysis

Product feature prioritization

Product feature: analysis of best practices and thresholds for usability

Product spec writing

Product spec feedback on scope and feasibility from engineering