Steve Fenton

Software product development requires focus

I have worked in product development teams for a lot of different industries. I have seen a great many strategies at play. From finance, to retail, to communications, to health – no matter what the industry, the key to successful software product development is focus.

It is very easy to use your sector as a theme to generate ideas and launch a load of product ideas. This is not the route to success. For example, instead of launching a portfolio of finance software products, you need to get more specific and launch one really awesome product that does something specific and does it really well.

I worked with some very clever programmers who wrote one of the cleverest systems I have seen. Using their product, you could build pretty much any application you could think of. Their clever method of linking together configured concepts with relationships meant you could define and structure data to create whatever program you needed – maybe you wanted an airline flight book system, or an event management program, or a mortgage interest calculator – you could configure it to do anything.

The problem is, when your software can do anything, who do you sell it to? You might be thinking “everyone”, but nobody is in the market for a program that can do anything you like – they want one that does something much more specific.

So have a think about companies that create software products that are successful. Very few of them are creating suites, or families of products – they are focussed on one product, it does something specific and it does it well.

Written by Steve Fenton on