Mobile app development projects fail to achieve market success for many reasons: poor UX design, lack of originality, inability to deliver value, among other reasons; but more often, product failure is attributed to a flawed mobile app planning phase. Quality mobile apps begin with pinpointing a very particular user need the product aims to address. Proper planning clarifies that user need and guides the development team towards building a successful mobile app. Preparing a product requirements document (PRD) will help the team avoid common product strategy mistakes and is arguably the best starting point for a mobile project.
Here is a list of six common mobile app planning mistakes and actionable tips to avoid them.
1. Taking Too Long To Get StartedMany mobile app projects simply take too long to get started. The high-speed rate of disruption can leave companies scrambling. Building future-oriented product roadmaps and continuing to deliver existing business value is a tricky balancing act, and in many cases, companies are unable to adapt fast enough. Additionally, technological change is notoriously difficult to predict, making it hard to convince stakeholders to invest in development projects aimed at addressing future scenarios.
The longer you sit with your idea, the more difficult it becomes to fully define a functional and feasible framework for development, as well as make a compelling business case. How to avoid it One of the hardest parts of the development process is getting started. To avoid taking too long to get your mobile app up-and-running, it’s best to put all your high-level information, research and specifications in one document by creating a PRD. With a PRD as your project foundation, you will be able to clearly communicate technical feasibility, implementation plans, as well as risk and change management strategies to all team members and stakeholders. Proper mobile app planning has many benefits and speeds up the process significantly by giving the product vision enough shape to start prioritizing a feature set.
2. Confusing Customer & Product RequirementsIn the early stages of planning product requirements, the overall product vision tends to be unclear and it’s difficult to determine what features and functionality are necessary to deliver user value. Similarly, it’s not always easy to see the full range of technical opportunities. It’s up to the product team to guide the customer through product requirements planning to discover the best possible solution for development.
A PRD document serves to translate your requests into indisputable product specifications. Initial ideas tend to be imprecise and non-technical in nature and communicating with your product team is critical. Without proper communication, you may not be able to identify the various implications of features on product performance.How to avoid it
Weigh the requirements for building a good product against your product assumptions. It’s important to think critically about user assumptions, technical assumptions, and business assumptions to get a better understanding of the necessary requirements to achieve a successful outcome.
3. Crafting Requirements In a Vacuum
Products are often complex incorporating multiple systems, subsystems and functionality; naturally, their requirements are complex as well. Product teams should be comprised of multiple people with different areas of expertise: product owners, product managers, developers, engineers, architects, and UX/UI designers to name a few. How to avoid it
Get your team – product owners and product managers, designers, developers, etc. – involved in product strategy and conceptualization. Agile methodology champions an integrated approach, meaning different members of your project team cooperate throughout product development; this includes product definition.
4. Mistaking Innovation For ValueThe rush to incorporate innovation can, in fact, cause development costs to explode. Just because you can include particular features or functionality, doesn’t mean you should. Emerging technologies and capabilities can sometimes create panic and cause the implementation of new requirements thoughtlessly. Again, this scenario stresses the importance of proper mobile app planning; a PRD allows for fewer mistakes between development handoffs and serves as a reference to determine the necessity of feature alteration. How to avoid it
Remain focused on your product goals and remember that you are designing a product for a specific user base. Does this feature or functionality add undeniable value to the end user? Is it essential to the product? Do the benefits outweigh the cost/complexity of implementation? If the answer to these questions is no, you should exclude the feature or add it to the product roadmap for later execution.
5. Ignoring Competitive Threats
Market viability is foundational to every product, and competitive threats will inevitably throw a wrench into your development plans. Not only do you need to continually monitor your competition, but you also need to keep your eye out for emerging trends and technologies. Sometimes, your competitors will release products that rival your own with features too similar for comfort. In these situations, your team may have to pivot. Again, a PRD will be indispensable for these moments because you will have already brainstormed and documented alternative solutions to particular features that fit within the scope and budget of your project. How to avoid it
Industry and competitor research is a mandatory part of your product strategy.
Failing to address these questions can reduce your ability to bring a viable, useful mobile app to market. It’s important to understand your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can set your product apart. With competitive research, you can define your product’s unique value proposition and optimize user lifetime value over time.
- What is your competition offering?
- How will your product be different?
- What needs and problems does your product solve that other products can’t?
- Have you considered industry trends and competitive developments that could or will threaten the success of your product?
6. Failing to Prioritize Must-Haves vs. Nice-to-haves
You are not going to be able to implement every feature in the first version of your product. It’s essential to determine what core feature is best suited to solve your users’ central pain point and take that solution to market first. Without clear communication, it’s difficult to determine which features are must-haves and which features are nice-to-haves. How to avoid it
Have a classification system for prioritizing features. Coordinate with your project team to determine which features are critical to include, versus features your product can do without initially. While thorough product requirements planning will not automatically equate to market success, it does offer your mobile app a much greater chance. By avoiding the product strategy mistakes above, you can provide our team with the foundation needed to break into the market successfully.