The Right Way to Hybridize Your Product Development Technique
Read an in-depth research report on how product development methodologies are changing due to the hybridization of formerly incompatible development approaches.
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In this post, we'll be talking about how to combine the best aspects of two different product development techniques to create a hybrid approach that saves you time and money while helping you avoid risks to your company.
You see, creatives (myself included) are often very passionate about what we do and would love nothing more than to do it all on our own.
However, this mindset can sometimes be detrimental in the startup world, especially when working with new business partners or clients.
The best way to cultivate your product development technique comes down to a simple rule: hybridization.
Hybridization encompasses all aspects of product development, from ideas and people to creativity and growth, both on an individual level as well as an organizational level.
It's a concept that has been in use for years and is turning out to be vital for modern-day entrepreneurs.
From personal experience, I can talk about the fact that hybridizing your product development technique helps with sustainability, but also with efficiency.
What Do You Mean by Hybrid Software Product Development?
Hybrid software product development is a new approach to developing software products that combine the advantages of two different models — the traditional waterfall model and the Agile model.
A typical waterfall model has sequential phases like requirement gathering, analysis, design, implementation, testing, and deployment. This model works well when requirements are clear and the project scope is not changing.
In an Agile model, there are multiple cycles of execution (called iterations) to adapt to changes in requirements or scope.
In a hybrid development model, you can use a combination of waterfall and Agile methodologies in a single project to optimize results.
For example, you can use the Agile methodology for the development phase of your project, while using the waterfall methodology for other phases.
Or you can use an iteration-based approach for some parts of your product and a waterfall approach for other parts.
Benefits of Hybrid Product Development
Hybrid combines the planning phase from waterfall and the iterative approach from Agile. You get a little bit of everything with hybrid product development. You get the predictability of having a defined plan to work from, but at the same time, you have enough flexibility to adapt according to customer needs.
The benefits of adopting a hybrid approach are substantial:
- Enables you to work in multiple dimensions.
- Creates more efficient processes.
- Facilitates shorter development cycles.
- Reduces costs and risks.
- Faster time-to-market.
- More disruptive approach.
4 Reasons to Take a Hybrid Approach When Cultivating Your Product Development Technique
1. The Hybrid Model Boosts the Pace of Software Development
A hybrid model is all about adding more speed and efficiency to the software development process. It aims at resolving the issues that may arise with the traditional software development model and thus, it is a better option for developing innovative products.
In an Agile environment, the user stories are broken down into smaller chunks and then developed. These chunks are grouped in two or three sprints, which are nothing but iterations. All these small pieces are developed in-house and tested by the QA team. The product owner has to approve each chunk before it is shipped out. This makes sure that everything is going as planned and the client will get his desired product at the end of it all.
2. Differentiation by Getting New Features to Market Is Quicker and Easier
Software development is an iterative process, with different teams working on a single product at the same time. End users can get access to updates, features, and bug fixes in real-time, without waiting for a major release. This means that differentiation by getting new features to market is quicker and easier than it's ever been, which is great news for smaller businesses.
It also means that there's no longer any reason to release a product before it's ready. In the past, software was expensive and difficult to distribute, so companies had no choice but to wait until it was "perfect" before shipping it. Now, there's no reason not to ship early and iterate based on user feedback.
3. Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
For most IT organizations, a cloud service provider's cost of operations is significantly less than the cost of running workloads in a traditional data center. In addition to this, cloud services also reduce or eliminate capital expenditures.
No matter which cloud model you choose (public, private, or hybrid), if you are subscribing to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) there will be some reduction in your TCO.
Even if you are hosting your applications on your servers in a private cloud, you will still likely realize significant savings due to improved operational efficiency.
4. More Flexibility: Fewer Dependencies on Custom Code
We’ve all been there: halfway through a project, and the client wants to add a feature that needs a custom plugin. That would be fine, except now your theme is dependent on that plugin. And then they want to switch themes because they’re not happy with the design. Except you can’t switch themes, because their custom plugin is only compatible with the theme you built out for them.
In these cases, the best solution is almost always to refactor the code so that the custom functionality lives in its plugin. This way, you can keep working on making your theme perfect without worrying about breaking anything else.
This approach is also helpful if you find yourself wanting more flexibility as there are fewer dependencies on custom code. You can build plugins for specific functions and then reuse them across many projects, rather than having to rewrite them each time.
How to Overcome the Challenges of Hybrid Product Development
1. Create a Culture That Supports Cohesion and Idea Sharing
If you're afraid of losing control or worried about not getting credit for your ideas, you won't be successful at this. You need to create a culture that fosters openness and respect, in which people can get comfortable with sharing their ideas.
Here are some ways to make sure your hybrid innovation approach succeeds:
- Take risks. Even if it's scary or doesn't work out the first time, have confidence in your team's ability to learn from failures — and celebrate them when they happen!
- Make fun part of your process. If brainstorming sessions become more like forced marches than creative thought experiments, nobody will enjoy them (if they even stay awake).
- Try having coffee breaks while working on problems together as another way to build trust among employees and encourage them to share what's on their minds without feeling pressured by performance reviews or other forms of management pressure/pressure cooker situations where everything is always so serious all the time!
2. Stick to the Process, Especially for Large Projects
Building a new product, feature, or process can be an intimidating process. With so much at stake, it is important to have a guide to help you make sure that you get certain things done.
It is also important to remember that your guide (or process) is not set in stone and can be changed to fit the project. There are many different guides out there, but the essence of each boils down to the same thing: if you use a tried and true process it will help you avoid potential pitfalls, like scope creep, and make it easier for others in your organization to support you.
3. Hybrid Product Development Brings Teams Together
The key to hybrid product development is bringing together the best of both in-house and remote teams.
As we’ve discussed throughout this article, there are some clear benefits to having an in-house team. However, it’s also now easier than ever to hire people who aren’t based in your office — if you know what you need and how to manage a remote team correctly. With the right balance between these two approaches, you can hire the most skilled people for each role and keep them engaged with your company culture no matter where they are located.
Innovation is all about finding new ways of doing things. This is just one example of how collaboration tools can help facilitate innovation within your organization.
4. Work With an Agile Team to Ensure Faster Speed to Market
A hybrid approach should involve working with an Agile team.
Here are a couple of examples of the benefits of using an Agile team:
- Because Agile teams operate outside of a traditional corporate hierarchy, they’re not bound to the same constraints that can keep internal projects from moving forward quickly.
- Agile teams are used to working together and have processes in place for developing software quickly.
And here are a couple of examples of challenges you might face when using an Agile team:
- It can be difficult for stakeholders to understand how their needs will fit into the team's workflow and iteration cycles.
- It can be challenging for outside organizations to let go of some control over their projects and trust that the Agile team will handle things efficiently.
5. Hybrid Teams May Need to Be Managed Differently Than All Past In-House Teams
Some of the biggest lessons we learned:
- Don’t try to control the process. You will just make it less effective and less enjoyable for your co-workers.
- Do provide a framework, but allow your team to interpret it as they see fit. It is recommended that you provide some guidance, but don’t make it so prescriptive as to constrain their creativity.
- Do explain what you are trying to achieve — even if people aren’t experts in your field, they can still inspire new ideas by sharing experiences from other domains or industries.
6. Users Are the Best Source of Information About Which Project Is Worth Pursuing
You should listen to your users. They can give you quick feedback on what they like and dislike, helping you determine which projects are worth pursuing and which should be abandoned or reworked. Remote collaboration with your users is a great way to analyze their feedback quickly and effectively (especially through video conferencing).
Your users are your best source of information about which project is worth pursuing. If a project isn’t being used by your customers, it’s unlikely to provide any value — so it’s important to understand how the user experience could be improved before committing too many resources to any given project.
Make it easy for employees to give you their input on the tools they use every day. In addition to implementing a formal feedback program with statements like, “What are your ideas for improving our product?” or “What features would you like to see added or removed?,” try setting up an anonymous Slack channel or email address based on your organization's preferred communication tools and create a culture where anyone can feel empowered to voice their opinion without judgment.
7. Find Ways to Combine Open Innovation With Other Methods Like Crowdsourcing
Find opportunities to collaborate with other companies that have complementary skills, resources, and capabilities. This can often work better than trying to do the whole project in-house.
Set the project up so that you are sharing the work with another company, or even just a customer or supplier. You will benefit from their insights and they will be more committed to its success if they have been involved in creating it.
Don’t assume that your company is best placed to solve all of its problems in-house — find ways to bring external partners into the process earlier to help you develop solutions beyond those which your team might come up with on their own. Don’t be afraid of asking for help!
8. New Products, Innovations, and Ideas Need to Get From the Brain of Their Conceiver Into Your Users' Hands as Fast as Possible
When you're launching a new product, innovation, or idea, getting to market as fast as possible is critical to your success. Hybrid product development can help.
Hybrid product development is an approach that combines in-house and outsourced development. It's grown increasingly popular in recent years because it enables organizations to tap into the specific expertise they need at a fraction of the cost of hiring new full-time employees.
And while hybrid product development can be used for a wide range of projects and initiatives, perhaps its biggest benefit is that it equips companies with the right tools to launch new products and innovations faster than ever before.
At the end of the day, it is up to you and your company culture to determine what strategy works best for your needs. If a company has an engineering-focused product development approach, then a hybridized approach may work better. A startup could benefit tremendously from an innovative technique like this.
Additionally, the internet of things (IoT) trend that is currently in its infancy may require that companies adopt an Agile methodology due to their reliance on software updates and how quickly technology changes within this realm.
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