Harlow Technologies Blog
Project Development: The Importance of Proper Development, Staging, and Production
When creating and launching a new technology product, you’ll work in three different environments: development, staging, and production. Each has its own properties and role to play, which is why it’s vital that your team fully understand each one.
By proceeding carefully through each part of this framework, teams can create a testable, successful infrastructure strategy. In a sense, these environments serve as checks and balances, ensuring that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed before a digital product goes live for everyone to see.
But what are these different parts of the product development framework? What roles do they have to play?
Today on the Harlow Technologies blog, we’re diving into each digital product development environment to understand how they all function and why they matter. The more you understand, the more successful your team will be at creating, testing, and improving online products, including custom applications.
What Is the Product Development Process?
We’ll begin with the product development process. This aspect of the model encompasses a great deal – it’s the first step in taking an idea of a product and turning it into a reality.
As you enter this first environment, your team will need to ask questions such as:
- What problem will our product solve?
- What will make this product idea realistic and successful?
- How will we create the product, then market it?
So many startups have brilliant product ideas, but they fail to create a well-organized development process to bring them to fruition. In fact, calculations done by Medium.com reveal only about 0.005 percent of new product ideas actually succeed.
A valuable, carefully crafted product development process is a combination of tools, procedures, and methodologies that allow for successful ideation and creation.
For some teams, this might look like a set of daily tasks required for the product – for others, it might be a weekly calendar of objectives or a monthly review. The tasks will include assignments such as:
- Assessing the competition
- Conceptualizing solutions
- Building your product roadmap
- Identifying potential hiccups/challenges
In short, your product development environment is the one that turns a product concept into a marketable reality. If this part of the process is not fully utilized or explored, your team sets itself up for failure during the staging and production environments.
Choosing the Right Product Development Model
Before we move on to talking about the next two product environments, we want to clarify that there are different product development models – and different teams require different strategies.
Using a well-defined strategy is the key to avoid development pitfalls, but there are a number of known models that have served small and large businesses well. For example, common models include:
– The IDEO approach. This framework, adopted by the award-winning design and consulting firm IDEO, breaks the product development process down into six key steps. It relies heavily on real-world observation and understanding consumer behavior.
– The Booz, Allen, and Hamilton (BAH) model. In this long-used model, the process is broken down into seven steps, including strategizing, idea generation, development, testing, and commercialization.
– The New Product Development (NPD) process. A more generic/basic approach, this process involves coming up with the idea, researching it, planning, and creating a prototype to ensure success.
Diving into these three models, as well as the countless others, would take far more than just this one blog post. Still, the point is that there are many defined methods for development.
The crucial decision is picking one that works for your product, team, timeline, and work style.
What Is the Staging Process?
Now it’s time to talk about the next environment after development: staging. This is when you create a copy of your digital product on a private server.
For example, let’s say you want to develop a custom application that helps your clients find cheap travel deals online. You don’t want to launch the site and let people use your service without testing everything out.
By staging your product on a private server, your team gets the chance to make small and large changes in a secure space. Test the application’s demands, improve technology, and create errors before everything goes live.
As developers ourselves, we spend a lot of time in this environment, perfecting product development and staging your final product. When someone builds a custom application through us, we’re able to provide them with a live demo of what their final product will look like – a place where we can experiment and improve without repercussion.
Staging harkens back to theater lingo a bit. This environment serves as the location for your product’s “dress rehearsal.” You’ve already planned out your product’s development in the initial parts of the project. Now, it’s time to do a run-through where you can play with various elements – without the scrutinizing eyes of an audience.
This staging environment is crucial, both from a client relationship standpoint and a developer or engineer’s viewpoint. Without proper staging, you risk publicly releasing a product that’s full of bugs and weaknesses.
Finally, the Production Process
Last but not least, it’s time to actually produce what you’re selling. You’ve planned it all out, tested it thoroughly in the staging environment, and now you’ve perfected it.
This is the part of the process you might call “going live.” The production environment occurs when users can finally access the product, after all its updates and testing. Although this is the final environment we’re discussing, it’s arguably the most crucial of them all.
There’s no room for error at this point. Although many companies choose to gradually roll out their products to minimize the number of users (and potential problems) upfront, this is the real deal. Bugs or errors reflect poorly upon the company
According to a study conducted by Walker, all signs point to customer experience overtaking both price and product as a key brand differentiator. It doesn’t matter how great your app, website, or other digital product is – if the
You can understand why most teams spend more time in the initial two environments, perfecting the product.
And there you have it – we’ve quickly gone through the three key environments. Each serves an essential role, and without one, it’s nearly impossible to release a successful end product.
About Harlow Technologies Inc.
Digital project development is kind of our bread-and-butter at Harlow Technologies.
As custom application developers and IT consultants, we’ve seen every side of the product development process, and we know what works – and what doesn’t. More than 25 years of experience will teach you that.
If you’re in the initial stages of planning a new product launch, or you’re not sure what’s currently going wrong with your app development, reach out to our team. We’re happy to help you with customized strategies, as well as tried-and-true development tactics.
Call 866-852-4HTI to learn more, or shoot us an email at [email protected].