By all means, move quickly. Just know that taking time away from careful research and development will ultimately slow you down.
This won’t be new news: startups and scaleups need to move quickly. The faster you can get a new product up and running, the faster you’ll be able to monetise it.
What might be news is that moving quickly should never be rushed. Yes, by all means move fast, but only after thoughtful and careful research and planning have taken place.
“Startups and scaleups need to move fast, they need to react fast,” agrees Juliano Bersano, founder and managing director of software delivery partner, Pragmateam. “There’s a need that every time something happens, they have to react. But they need to balance the fact that they need to be agile with thinking they have to react to everything that happens.”
Both startups and scaleups constantly have their heads turned by opportunity – or their focus pulled by fire after fire. But being so reactive often means the only thing you end up moving quickly towards is failure.
“This often happens because they don’t have a very clear vision,” says Bersano. “Things change, products are created in market, there are opportunities around them… but if you react to everything around you, that’s going to affect your vision.”
The top mistakes tech scaleups and startups make
Little wonder that Bersano puts a lack of clear vision as number one on his list of mistakes both scaleups and startups make when it comes to software delivery.
“Scaleups are just as guilty of these mistakes as startups, if not more: because they are bigger they should be more structured and can’t get away with the ‘casualness’ of a small startups,” says Bersano. “But often they still operate like 10 people in a garage, even though they might be close to a 100.”
Here’s his full list and what you can do to avoid making some of the big mistakes that could end up costing your business.
1. Not having a clear understanding of your product vision
As Bersano points out above, without a solid product vision, distraction is everywhere. When you have a consistent vision in place, you don’t need to react to anything that doesn’t support that vision.
“What we see is startups expending an enormous amount of energy on non-value-added stuff, because they keep changing course,” says Bersano. Instead, take the necessary time upfront to really understand your why – why this product and this market, and why and how you’re the right team to deliver it.
Anything along the way that isn’t consistent with your vision is not something you need to spend your time on.
It’s something that Pragmateam works closely with their partners to get right. Their role is to bring high-quality software engineering to digital projects that require speed, but also precision and a clear product vision. Some of their product delivery partnerships include fintech Tyro Payments, NFT trades platform Immutable X and Service NSW (Pragmateam helped bring the Dine & Discover program to life).
2. Not doing proper user research
Bersano sees this all the time: startups diving into full-blown development without properly validating their ideas through research. It’s risky to spend so much of your money upfront without knowing you’re on the right track. Instead, he suggests spending a shorter time developing your prototype (which could even be paper-based) and more time validating your idea with actual users.
“You can do very thorough user research, but at the end of the day, even if you ask eight random people from anywhere, they will give you super-valuable information,” says Bersano. “It’s going to give you validation that you’re right – you might not change anything but, the value in being validated and not wasting money is huge.”
3. Not including your whole team in product discovery
The eight random people you seek out may already be working with you. The thing is, you don’t need a huge company to build silos. Many scaleups have their own version and fail to get everyone involved in creating an optimal product. They fail to get their developers involved in market research. They don’t have their customer service team contributing to product development.
“Everyone who is a touchpoint should be part of [ongoing] product discovery,” says Bersano. Every team adds insights and perspective that needs to be considered by all other teams. The more the teams research and collaborate together – and the more they put the customer at the heart of that collaboration – the faster those insights will be incorporated into building an optimal product and customer experience.
The approach to discovery at Pragmateam is a full-team effort, in fact, they hire high-calibre, diverse experience in order to facilitate that from the very beginning. Their team design, build and collaborate as part of client teams, working together to deliver their products.
“Building software is a very social enterprise,” Bersano explains. “It’s just as much social and collaborative as technical.”
4. Not having an incremental product plan
The best startup experiences have a product plan in place. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and it definitely needs to be flexible, but it’s critical it’s there.
“We see that the better startups and scaleups are incredibly disciplined. You need to have a plan, and, yes, that plan will change. But you still need it so you can constantly review your work and keep your focus,” Bersano says.
This relates strongly to Bersano’s first rule: have a clear vision. Part of that clear vision should be a basic outline of how you’re going to make your vision a reality. He’s not saying you have to have a 20-page document outlining your detailed step-by-steps. A one-pager with some basic tenets you agree to stick to is all that’s needed here.
The main goal is to establish a set of benchmarks that you can regularly assess to chart your progress – that way you know your vision is still on track.
5. Not having a continuous delivery pipeline
Lastly, Bersano wants you to look at automating both your integration and your delivery pipeline. Without automation, you’re setting yourself up for a massive (not to mention expensive) manual workload. Plus, if you don’t automate the process, there’s no way you’ll be able to effectively test, stage and produce to the same level of quality and predictability.
“If you’re building a product over a week, you probably don’t need automation,” Bersano says. “But anything over two or three months, it’s going to pay off big-time.”
This is definitely one of those times when it pays to slow things down in order to accelerate later. So, take the time upfront to prepare the tracks down the road for a smoother ride. You’ll save yourself time, money and stress. And ultimately you’ll be producing a far better product, which equates to a superior user experience.
“Startups and scaleups do have to move faster and they are less complex, but the things that need to be done to build good products are still the same,” concludes Bersano.
Pragmateam partners with organisations, teams and people to co-design and build exceptional digital products together. For more info, visit pragma.team.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in partnership with Pragmateam.