Developing software from scratch may be a difficult task, because most people don’t know how to build software from scratch. However, you must build a product that will meet your customers’ needs if you want to achieve your business goals and convert your dream into a successful and popular product that brings income.
Startup software development is a multiple-level process. In this article, we will look closer at the details about how to create your own software product.
Developing a software product: what does this process consist of?
If you already have a great startup idea, you can start looking for a team to bring this idea to life and kick-start the software product development process. Hereunder are the steps on how to build your own software product.
1. Software startup development team hiring
It’s not hard to develop a software product if you have the right team. Any software project needs at least 5 team members: project manager, business analyst, UI/UX designer, software engineer, and QA specialist. But how do you find a team that meets all of your requirements? There are three ways to go:
Perhaps, you already have one. In this case, you must make sure it can cope with your project. Maybe you will need to hire some extra specialists. If not, you may consider building your in-house team. It’s the best way to go if you want a long-term cooperation with people who can develop your software and be fully dedicated to this process. You can find an onboard team by posting vacancies on services like Glassdoor, Stack Overflow, and others. Then, you need to conduct interviews with suitable candidates and hire the best ones (but note that it may be hard if you don’t have a technical background).
Cooperating with a startup development company that provides outsourcing services is a perfect way to reduce the custom software development cost and time on hiring. Classically, it takes up to 66 days to hire a developer. Imagine how much time it will take to build a whole team. So, if you want to avoid it, you can find an expert vendor that will provide you with a team of specialists with enough experience and skills to complete your project. The outsourcing team will help you with everything: from idea validation to the product launch strategy. In addition, you can cooperate with a company that provides product development for startups from any country and save a lot of money on the development process. For example, salaries of specialists in the IT field in countries of Eastern Europe, like Ukraine or Poland, are several times lower than those in the USA and Western Europe.
Freelance is the cheapest but also the most unreliable choice. Freelancers are suitable for short-term cooperation and for completing small tasks. However, if you need a full-fledged team, you will not likely find it on freelance platforms. But if you hire a freelancer to fill gaps in the product development process, freelance platforms like Upwork or Toptal can help.
That’s right; you can’t just start new product development (NPD) as you hire a team. Firstly, you need to make sure that your idea makes sense and has a chance to survive in the market and be competitive. Secondly, you need to find your target audience and come up with a problem that you will solve with your software’s help. For this, your team needs to conduct research. Finally, you, as a product owner, need to take part in it. As a result of this stage, you will have everything you need to finally start the development process: plan, documentation, etc.
3. Development process
If you develop the product from zero, it’s worth considering using the minimum viable product (MVP) approach that falls under the Lean Startup process. It’s a product that has enough features to satisfy early-stage customers. You can use the first feedback to build the next, more comprehensive version of your software. In addition, you will have to invest minimal time and money into developing an MVP of your product.
Monetization is how you will get an outcome from your software product. So clearly, you shouldn’t launch the development process until you define how you will make money out of it. The proper monetization model and pricing are critical. Both excessively cheap and overpriced solutions can push customers away. Of course, you will have to adjust the pricing when the future versions of your product become more competitive and universal, but the initial pricing and monetization model should seem attractive to the users. That is why it’s recommended to make some excellent functions free of charge, offer a prolonged trial period to the first customers, and use other tricks to attract new users.
There are many monetization models, but we will take a look at the most profitable of them:
Thanks to ads, the users can use your software for free while you still get a fee from sponsors. Unfortunately, there is a stereotype that ads can only be annoying and disengage users from interacting with your product, but there are enough ways to make advertisements acceptable. For example, if people look at an ad instead of a spinning circle while waiting for a response from the program. Or if you put a pop-up ad of your own service that appears only if a user has been showing an interest in your software for a long time.
Pay per installation
The obvious drawback of this monetization model is that the users should have a real need for your software, so this method could work. However, if you are sure that your software doesn’t have a lot of analogs, offers some unique functions, or has a very successful marketing campaign, you can apply a pay-per–installation model.
Pay per subscription
Software as a service model is gaining momentum nowadays. Statista claims that in 2023, the value of the SaaS market will reach $208.1 billion. So, the pay-per-subscription model seems to be more beneficial than ever. It allows satisfying the needs of both advanced and non-advanced users. For example, you can sell subscriptions for your software for a few dollars to those who need access to it and provide premium features for an advanced, ten-dollar subscription.
Design is the first thing a user sees when opening your software. It can be simple or complex and sophisticated. It’s essential to manage your budget correctly and not spend too much or too little on the design. Most software products require minimalistic, intuitive, and easy-to-understand design. Thus, you can make a simple design in the first version of your software. When new functions are added in future versions, you can change the design conception and make it more complicated.
Now, it’s time for designers to choose the tools they will use for development. But, again, if you are not technically inclined and don’t have a tech-savvy co-founder, you will have to trust your developers, who will make this choice under your budget and the needs of your project.
Testing is an essential part of any software product development. That’s why you need Quality Assurance (QA) in your team. In addition, it’s essential to identify and fix all bugs and errors early in the process. Thus, dividing the testing process into iterations is highly recommended, and conducting it as frequently as possible.
4. Selling the product
As you have done with the development process, it’s time to launch a new product and introduce it to the market. You should be ready that your first customers will probably be skeptical and critical, but that’s a normal reaction to a brand-new product, so you should be ready for all sorts of responses. These responses should be collected, analyzed, and used for product enhancement.
5. Support and maintenance
In one way or another, the finished product requires further maintenance. It should always comply with the new operating systems and devices, have an up-to-date design, goes on par with your competitor’s products, and satisfy the users’ needs. That’s why you will always need the services of a project manager, business analyst, UI/UX designer, developers, and QA engineer who will continuously work on your product’s improvement and refinement.
Building a software product is not easy for any startup founder, but if you do everything the right way, you have a lot of chances to succeed. Establishing realistic goals, understanding your customers, following the plan, and working only with reliable people with enough skills and experience to cope with your project are essential.