In any case, move quickly. Just know that if you take time for careful research and development, you will eventually slow down.
This will not be new news: startups and scale-ups have to act quickly. The faster you can get a new product up and running, the faster you can earn money from it.
What may be news is that acting quickly should never be rushed. Yes, in any case act quickly, but only after thoughtful and careful research and planning.
“Startups and scale-ups have to act fast, they have to react fast,” agrees Juliano Bersano, founder and director of software delivery partner, Pragmate team. “It is necessary that every time something happens, they have to react. But they have to find the balance between being agile and thinking they have to react to everything that happens.”
Both startups and scale-ups are constantly confronted with opportunities – or their focus is drawn by fire after fire. But being that reactive often means that failure is the only thing you go fast.
“This often happens because they don’t have a very clear vision,” Bersano says. “Things change, products are created in the market, there are opportunities around them… but if you react to everything around you, that will affect your vision.”
The top mistakes tech scale-ups and startups make
No wonder 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.
“Scale-ups are just as guilty of these mistakes as startups, if not more: Because they’re bigger, they need to be more structured and can’t get away with the ‘casualness’ of a small startup,” Bersano says. “But often they still work as 10 people in a garage, even though they may be close to 100.”
Here’s his full list and what you can do to avoid making some of the big mistakes that can end up costing your business.
1. No clear picture of your product vision
As Bersano points out above, without a solid product vision, distractions are everywhere. If you have a consistent vision, you don’t have to respond to something that doesn’t support that vision.
“What we’re seeing is startups putting a lot of effort into things that don’t add value because they keep changing course,” Bersano said. Instead, take the time upfront to really understand your why – why this product and this market, and why and how you are the right team to deliver it.
Anything along the way that doesn’t match your vision isn’t something you need to spend your time on.
It’s something that Pragmateam works closely with their partners to get it 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 trading 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 dive into full development without properly validating their ideas through research. It is risky to spend that much money up front without knowing you are on the right track. Instead, he suggests spending less time developing your prototype (which can even be on paper) and more time validating your idea with real users.
“You can do very thorough user research, but in the end, even if you ask eight random people from anywhere, they will give you super valuable information,” Bersano says. “It gives you the confirmation that you are right – you may not change anything, but the value of getting validated and not wasting money is enormous.”
3. Don’t involve your entire team in product discovery
The eight random people you’re looking for may already be working with you. The thing is, you don’t need a big company to build silos. Many scale-ups have their own version and fail to involve everyone in creating an optimal product. They fail to involve their developers in market research. They do not have a customer service team contributing to product development.
“Everyone who is a point of contact should be part of [ongoing] product discovery,” says Bersano. Each team adds insights and perspectives to be considered by all other teams. The more the teams explore and collaborate — and the more they put the customer at the center of that collaboration — the faster those insights will be incorporated into building an optimal product and customer experience.
Pragmateam’s approach to discovery is a team effort, in fact, they hire high-quality, diverse experience to make that happen from the get-go. Their team designs, builds and collaborates as part of customer teams and works together to deliver their products.
“Building software is a very social undertaking,” explains Bersano. “It’s as social and collaborative as it is technical.”
4. Not having an incremental product plan
The best startup experiences have a product plan. It doesn’t have to be extensive, and it certainly has to be flexible, but it’s critical that it’s there.
“We see that the better startups and scale-ups are extremely disciplined. You have 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,” says Bersano.
This is very much in line with Bersano’s first rule: have a clear vision. Part of that clear vision should be a basic outline of how you are going to make your vision a reality. He’s not saying you need to have a 20-page document outlining your detailed step-by-step instructions. A one-pager with some basics that you stick to is all it takes here.
The main goal is to establish a set of benchmarks that you can review regularly to chart your progress – that way you know your vision is still on track.
5. Not having a continuous delivery pipeline
Finally, Bersano wants you to look at automating both your integration and your delivery pipeline. Without automation, you put yourself in front of a huge (not to mention expensive) manual workload. And if you don’t automate the process, you won’t be able to effectively test, manufacture and produce with the same level of quality and predictability.
“If you’re building a product in a week, you probably don’t need automation,” Bersano says. “But anything in two or three months, it will pay off.”
This is definitely one of those times when it pays to slow things down only to speed things up later. So take the time in advance to prepare the tracks on the road for a smoother ride. You save yourself time, money and stress. And in the end you will produce a much better product, which equates to a superior user experience.
“Startups and scale-ups need to be faster and less complex, but the things needed to build good products are still the same,” concludes Bersano.
Pragmateam works with organizations, teams and people to design and build exceptional digital products together. For more information, visit pragma.team.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in association with Pragmate team.