Experts on How to Make Product Development more Predictable and Cost-Efficient

product development

There is no chance you can avoid all the pitfalls and landmines of the product development process. You will get stuck, you will make mistakes, you will lose time, money, and (more often than you think!) — hope. There is no silver bullet for it. However, there are tried and true, ground to earth ways to mitigate this chaos, decrease the entropy of product design and development, and increase your chances of success. 

We could address it from our product development perspective only, but decided to make this guide truly multifaceted. Thus, offered eight experts to answer four pressing questions about product development. For your convenience, each topic is finalized with summary points and extra tips from QArea team. 

Let me introduce our participants:

Bruce Mason
A Delivery and UK Director in QArea.
He has over 30 years of experience in software development, building big teams and fine-tuning the processes within Banking, Fintech, eCommerce, Travel, and Public Administration domains. 
Bhargav Sathish
Product Manager at Capital One, Co-Founder of Earth Hacks.
A Product Manager at Capital One, working on an internal platform called SAGE. A professional with experience in consulting, product management, and project management in the IT, healthcare, and financial services industries. 
Luc Perard
Authentic, customer-obsessed Business Leader who builds and inspires global, high-impact teams. 20 years of experience gained at the most prestigious Internet of Things (IoT) companies – large multinational corporates & startups, which sell hardware, software, digital solutions and IT services.
Vignaraj Gadvi
A Product Manager leading the implementation of an innovative technology platform for product designers and engineers.Recognized savvy leader with strengths in re-engineering delivery processes, defining continuous improvement in processes, presiding over lively brainstorming sessions and building result driven teams.
Praveen Kumar Reddy Polika
Director and Digital Product Management at Sol Design. 
Throughout 15+ yrs career, had the opportunity and privilege of driving inclusive change across Fortune 100 companies across many industries by building/enabling teams to create new products and capabilities.
Olexii Pavliuk
Head of Delivery at QArea
Started as a C# developer more than 15 years ago, Aleksey then shifted his focus to building a solution architecture where he became a true expert. Today, Aleksey helps developers and clients to create projects for any business needs.
Melody Shiue
Co-Founder, Director, Chief Design Officer at Bodymapp
Melody is a product designer by trade and a visionary at heart. Her product design strength lies in stakeholder empathy, root cause deconstruction and resolving complexity into simple, scalable solutions. 
Jamie Irwin
Director at Straight Up Search
eCommerce, SEO and Affiliate marketing experts with over 7 years of senior experience in the field. His company focuses on ethical, organic growth and enables agencies and businesses worldwide to achieve success with their online campaigns. 

Hidden costs of the product development process

There is a great temptation to cut corners when it comes to product development. In fact, it’s sometimes considered prestigious, or even a sign of wisdom, when you can boast about being able to trim the fat while helping to bring your product to market. And yet, the reality is that making the right set of trade-offs at the right stage of product development requires in-depth knowledge of what goes into it and what costs. Embrace the hidden costs to make a viable budget, and only then trim it. 

Bruce Mason:

There are endless hidden cost in any product and project-related lifecycle, but if I need to narrow it for product development precisely, these will be my picks.

Regulatory costs. You just need to follow changes in regulations and, if you are outsourcing, choose a company with strong domain expertise. 

Testing: Manual vs. Automated. As your product evolves, manual testing may become an overhead, and you may need to switch to automation. Automation is not cheap, but automating it once correctly is extremely efficient and cost-effective.

Bhargav Sathish:

There are many costs that I believe companies have top of mind, such as research and development (R&D), quality assurance (QA), and regulatory compliance. However, here are the costs that I think are sometimes underestimated:

Intellectual Property Protection. Get IP protection on anything innovative in the market, but there are a lot of costs with filing for IP protection, maintaining it, and potential legal fees if there are disputes.

Customer Service and Support. Great products can sell themselves. However, loyalty to a product or company can be reinforced with being able to provide the best customer service and support compared to competitors.

Praveen Kumar Reddy Polika:

As the speed of innovation is increasing with every passing year, it’s important to have your product launched at quality within the targeted time to market. Delayed or misaligned  decision-making may actually be the biggest hidden cost that can delay the product launch. It’s important to have an inclusive decision-making process with a bias for speed throughout the lifecycle. Use digital collaborative tools to enable effective process.

Luc Perard:

Half of most developers’ time is spent researching rather than building and maintaining software. More than half of their work time is spent unproductively from the standpoint of core business objectives. It leads to missed deadlines, overrun budgets and product failures.

Most developers don’t work on new products—not from scratch, anyway. They use existing building blocks (e.g. open-source software [OSS] components) that fit together to create new features/capabilities.

So before changing functional software, they must understand the OSS elements comprising the software inner workings and how they interact and depend upon each other. Failure to do so can open up massive structural vulnerabilities or even break mission-critical enterprise applications.

Jamie Irwin:

“One hidden cost of product development that companies overlook is the cost of customer support. If customers are not serviced properly and their expectations are not met, they may switch from your brand to your competitors. In the end, most of the products and services have alternatives.”

Vignaraj Gadvi:

Technical debt — a form of accumulation of technical shortcuts or quick fixes that may be made during the development process to meet deadlines or other goals — saves time in the short term and create problems later. Technical dept comes with additional costs as the product evolves and requires maintenance or updates.

Rapid prototyping can help gather feedback and make rapid improvements. However, it can also be costly if it involves frequent redesigns or leads to a product that is not fully tested and ready for market.

Short summary

Hidden costs teams and managers tend to forget about in the scope of new product development:

  1. Regulatory costs. There are many, they change, and consist of both direct fees and fines you pay, if you fail to comply. Find an in-house or outsourcing expert proficient in this matter — it is cheaper than playing “hide and seek” with a regulator. They always win. 
  2. Intellectual Property Protection. Many companies leave it to a blessed “once we are hit the market” moment, just to discover plagiarism and IP rights violations doesn’t give you a leeway. 
  3. Testing: Manual vs. Automated. You need to know when it is time to automate. Normally, it comes when at least 80% of your product is ready and stable (and not 4 years later!). 
  4. High turnover that leads to unproductive development work (up to 50% of the time!). Make sure your developers understand the OSS elements comprising the software inner workings and how they interact and depend upon each other.
  5. Delays. Have an inclusive decision-making process with a bias for speed throughout the lifecycle. 
  6. Quality customer service. A struggle to balance cutting overhead costs without sacrificing customer satisfaction and quality products in the brink of recession is real.
  7. Technical debt. It comes with additional costs as the product evolves and requires maintenance or updates.

Main risks that lead to project’s failure

A risk is a situation, or event, that might actualize itself. The risk may not endanger the project directly, but later backfire and cripple the results of months’ if not years’ work. In many cases, it cannot be avoided, because it entails an error or a failure of the management system. Thus, it is fundamental to know its nature to prevent it from happening.

Vignaraj Gadvi:

Lack of the problem understanding. Rather often, the product is designed to solve a symptom rather than the root cause of a problem. 

Insufficient resources. It’s important for product managers to carefully plan and allocate resources, taking account potential force majors.  

Poor product execution. Even if a product has an apparent problem to solve and strong market demand, it can still fail if it is poorly executed. It can be caused by poor project management, lack of quality control, or failure to properly test and validate the product.

Bhargav Sathish:

As product development can take some time, you need to be thinking about how your product will still be relevant in the market once it’s released, and not just at the time of development. For example, while the idea for Bodymapp was born out of COVID lockdowns, our product wasn’t released until after the pandemic. So, we ensured throughout development that we were considering what our customer’s needs would be in the future, and made sure that our product fulfilled those needs.

Bruce Mason:

Immature organizations often don’t have a single person for a product owner role and let subjec-matter experts (SMEs) maintain a backlog. Letting subject-matter experts try to agree on what should be delivered first backfires immediately. In the end, all get marked critical, the delivery team is in a frenzy, SMEs insist on everything being an A-level priority… It is a stalemate. 

As a representative of an outsourcing provider, I convince clients to choose someone to be in charge. You cannot have 50 priority #1 items when we can deliver from 5 to 10 every corresponding sprint. 

Sometimes, clients don’t have anyone to fit the product owner requirements or rise to the occasion. In this case, we offer an expert from our side to play this role. They don’t have a vested interest, can do well with priorities, and have domain/tech experience. 

Short summary

Main product development risks that lead to product failure:  

  1. Lack of the problem understanding. Data-based decision-making should help.
  2. Insufficient resources. No matter how good you plan, add 30% to your budget. 
  3. Poor product execution. Start testing early, see NPD as a series of loops, not a straight “start-finish” line. 
  4. Relevance. “Black swan” factors can significantly influence the relevance of your product. Always think about a contingency plan.  
  5. Letting SMEs run the show, instead of appointing/hiring a product owner. If you don’t have someone for this role — outsource.

Decreasing uncertainty in NPD

New product development (NPD) process involves many unknowns and variables, making it inherently uncertain. The process of creating a new product involves a lot of experimentation and iteration, which can make it difficult to predict the outcome. 

Additionally, new products often require the development of new technologies or the application of existing technologies in new ways, which can add to the uncertainty. Even in-depth research that many see as a Holy Grail of NPD doesn’t always help — Market and economic conditions may change unexpectedly, making it difficult to predict the potential success of a new product. Take the pandemics. 

Therefore, it is important to manage and mitigate the uncertainty throughout the process to increase the chances of success.

Viggy Gadvi:

Build scrappy prototypes. Quickly test and validate ideas without investing a lot of time and resources. 

Seek early customer feedback. Better understanding customers’ needs and preferences will help you refine your product plan and reduce uncertainty. 

Pivot if needed. Be flexible and ready to make changes to your product plan based on new information or changing circumstances. This can help you adapt to micro-macroeconomic factors or other external influences that may impact your product.

Praveen Kumar Reddy Polika:

Uncertainties usually happen where communication is strained. Breakdown of communication happens either when there is ambiguity in individual team members’ role/responsibility or there is very little transparency/info share. Roles and responsibilities understanding should come with  clear escalation paths when there are disagreements. Democratize information and enable access of data, of course with right access controls to help with better decision-making process.

Bhargav Sathish:

Assemble a strong, diverse team to cross the hurdles easier. Remember — data is money. Data-driven decisions will reduce risks and uncertainty. Make sure that you have contingency plans in place. Not all data-driven decisions will work out in your favor. By investing time in thinking through the fail-safe and “what-if” decisions, you are removing a bulk of the uncertainty ahead of time.

Melody Shiue:

Visual tools are important for supporting the new product design and discussing the scope

across multidisciplinary teams. Don’t neglect visualizing product vision, timeline, technical constraints, resource allocation, cost implications, change impacts and potential risks. 

It’s also useful to do iterative testing in various use cases before release to production. This is a great way to make small, evidence-based changes to product features to create a more user-friendly product.

Short summary

Ways to decrease uncertainty of new product development:

  1. Rapid prototyping and MVP. Outsource to build a scrappy prototype faster and cheaper, get a proof of concept and test the market earlier. 
  2. Transparent, strong communication. Democratized information, enabled access to data, clear roles and responsibilities help to minimize the risks in this pain point.
  3. Diversity for better decision-making. A strong, diverse team will cross the hurdles easier and offer more sustainable research ideas and solutions.
  4. Visualization. Visualize product vision, timeline, technical constraints, etc.
  5. TEST! It will allow you to make evidence-based changes and release a quality, glitch-free product.

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Red flags at a product design stage

“Red flags” in new product development (NPD) refer to potential issues or warning signs that indicate a product may not be viable or successful. They can indicate that a product may not meet customer needs, may be too costly to produce, or may be subject to legal or regulatory issues. The earlier you identify the red flags, the less time and money you will waste on later design and development, testing and launch stages.  

Olexii Pavliuk:

“Both fully aligned vision and too much differentiation in stakeholder vision are red flags. If we all think alike, we are most likely producing something too much on the surface, something anyone can think about. There should be arguments, different versions, pros and cons, rivalry between SMEs offers. However, if we can’t agree on anything except for “let’s do it!” — we have a design intention, not a viable product design in the works.”

Bhargav Sathish:

I would concentrate on the following:

1. Insufficient Market demand — if the market is not available for a product, how can you

justify it?

2. Regulatory and Legal Risk — make sure that you do your due diligence on the risks

associated with your product.

3. High Production Costs vs. Potential Market Price. 

Viggy Gadvi:

Qualitative feedback over quantitative feedback. It’s essential to pay attention to the bias of the feedback you are receiving, as this can impact how you interpret and use the information. Qualitative feedback, based on subjective opinions and experiences, may provide valuable insights into user needs and preferences. Still, it can be harder to quantify and analyze. Quantitative feedback, based on objective data, can be easier to interpret. It’s essential to strive for quantitative feedback to evaluate relevance and reliability.

Praveen Kumar Reddy Polika:

Simplification of the problem statement is very important part of the designing process and clearly articulating, aligning on the design principles is very important. Analysis paralysis is one of the biggest critical red flags during the design stage. To avoid it, have short feedback cycles to get feedback on the design ideas progressively and use that data to improve upon the design. 

Short summary

Most common red flags in new product development, you can’t afford to ignore:

  1. Thinking too much alike, or not alike at all. Track how your stakeholders see the product development process and desired result. Make sure you have a strong product owner on your side. 
  2. Low understanding of legal, regulatory ground. Can cost you a lot or money, can cost you the entire project. Consult with experts, hire them, or outsource the task to a domain-focus company.
  3. Lack of quantitative data. While qualitative feedback is truly valuable, make sure you have enough blunt numbers for truly data-driven decisions. 
  4. Analysis paralysis. With too little or too much data on the table, decisions will be shallow or will be just delayed. Work with short feedback cycles. 

In the end, nothing beats the wisdom of the crowd. With eight different product development professionals weighing in on these common issues and concerns, we hope that we provided you with a pretty high level of insight. We each have our areas of professional expertise, but at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for experience. If you are looking for a reliable product development partner, check out our services in this department and engagement models we  offer. For a fast pricing inquiry — click here.



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Written by


Sasha B., Senior Copywriter at QArea

A commercial writer with 12 years of experience. Focuses on content for IT, IoT, robotics, AI and neuroscience-related companies. Open for various tech-savvy writing challenges. Speaks four languages, joins running races, plays tennis, reads sci-fi novels.

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