Here at Centresource, we love building cool stuff. Building software is like building a house – before you start picking out the floor plan, paint colors and appliances you need to pour your foundation. For us and our software, that means clearly defining answers to the following question – “what are we building, for who and why?” The “What” “Who” and “Why” make up the 3 corners of our product cornerstones triangle and drives the rest of the process.
Let’s start with the who (your Ideal Customer Profile). The saying “if you try to be everything for everyone, you won’t be anything to anyone” couldn’t be more true. Do your research and know who your product is serving. This includes demographics, psychographics and technology savviness among other factors. Don’t assume – get out into the market and talk to your potential users. Find out what motivates them and what scares them. You’ll be surprised what they have to say.
Onto the what (your Product & Services Profile). What kind of service are you offering? Where are the gaps in the market and who are you competing against? You need to know what problem you’re solving – if there’s no problem or you’re making one up, then you’re in trouble.
Lastly you need to find out the why (your Product Positioning). Perhaps the hardest to define, the why boils down to your products unique positioning in the market and why your target users need what you’re selling.
This shouldn’t be an easy exercise. There’s often disagreements among stakeholders. It can take time to get everyone on the same page. But you need to make smart and informed decisions – get it done and don’t say “we’ll figure it out later.” Because it’s difficult to “figure it out later.” Would you tell your contractor to pour half the foundation of your new house and you’ll figure out the other half later? Probably not.
These early decisions are important because the further you get down the development of your product, the harder it becomes to shift your foundation without implications to your scope, timeline and budget. Imagine you built your product thinking tech-savvy millennials would be using it. You’d probably decide to include a lot of social integrations or a lot of high tech bells and whistles. Three months later you realize that it’s actually grandmothers that want to pay for your product. Their technology needs are much different – all of a sudden, not just the who has changed, but also your what and your why.