Build products and services that are easy to sell: Part 2 - The Design Phase

Pete Busam

In the first article of this five-part series we discussed the 5 phases of a full development process. In this installment we will look at the design phase with emphasis on what needs to be completed and who should be involved.

Before we get too deep into this phase, let’s take a moment to setup a development team. The purpose of the team is to have an agenda with a road map of the steps required to properly design, develop and move the product to market. The team should be comprised of a member from each key department including Technology, Sales, Finance and Management and will, of course, need a leader. Typically a neutral person in your organization is best for this role, I would recommend your marketing person. As team leader this person will have to address all the key elements of the offering from a positioning, technical and financial perspective. They will also be held accountable to management for reporting on progress and meeting an offering launch date.

Design-ProcessNow lets look at the design phase, in this phase you will build the plan for how you to take your offering through the remaining phases, from implementation to production. In the Design phase there are two areas of consideration:

  1. Concept
  2. Product Planning

Let’s explore each one.

Concept

This critical step in the design phase is where you begin to research and involves the intellectual process of developing ideas into realistic and appropriate research design. This portion can be time consuming depending on the level of expertise of the team member. Time is spent critiquing the information gathered on the idea, continually refining and narrowing down the idea until a research problem and purpose have been determined.

A thorough review of all compiled research needs to be conducted to fully understand:

  1. Needs analysis
  2. Concept of the offering
  3. How the offering fits the organizational brand image

Once the team has agreed and management has approved, the team can move on to the product planning.

Product Planning

This is where the technical, financial and marketing team all come together to build the product specification and business case based upon the information derived during the concept documentation. The product plan will include what components are going to be included and how they will be sourced.

The financial team will review the products that will be included in the offering and review the pricing model which will give everyone an idea of end user pricing.

Once these steps are completed the Design process is done and the Development process begins.

Key elements of this phase include:

  1. Develop the team and accountability
  2. Involve key people in each department – this way the product will have full support from every department and save numerous hours of lost time trying to figure out how it is priced or how to invoice the offering as well as the technical team not knowing what the product is or is not.

Part three will deal with the Development phase which includes the design review and pilot.

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