Creating and Managing Tech Projects for Tech Casuals
You don't need to be a tech wizard to start building the product/service of your dreams.
The possibilities of tech are endless, but how does it go from being this infinite source of knowledge to an operation as simple as directing an electric current to your light bulb. This blog will guide you through your tech project’s planning phase, explain the difference between vision and mission and help you target both. By the end of this, you’ll have the tools you need to bring your project to life.
It Starts With You
You are the brains of the operation. You’re responsible for the success of the lifecycle of your tech project. As such, the more organized you are, the more smoothly the project will develop. It’s beneficial to write as much down as possible; keeping a project journal would be great. That way, your adventure will be logged and can be a learning resource in the future, a reference point that documents your experience.
Do We Have Our Heading, Captain?
Your tech project is a unique expression of your personal innovation. Your vision is a unique solution to a problem that only you (and your team) can manifest. When it’s all said and done, what do you want your project to have achieved? What is its purpose? The answer to that is the foremost foundational thought of your project.
How To Get There
Okay, you know where you want to go, but how do you get there? The journey is the mission. Your mission is the path that you will take to get you to your desired outcome. Along the way, there will be checkpoints to let you know you are on track to reaching your goal. For example, ask yourself, “What can I successfully tackle in 3 months? What can I tackle in one month, one week?” You’ve now given your mission its first goal, and set up two checkpoints that will assure you are well on your way.
Vision, Mission, & Objectives
Let your vision guide your purpose, mission guide your strategy, and objectives guide execution. Remember the acronym S.M.A.R.T. = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Set S.M.A.R.T. objectives early and often. What will that actually look like?
Consider your market. There are two key factors to consider in this line of thought: are you in an unregulated market? Or, are you in a regulated market? If your market is unregulated, then you need to be able to provide as much information as possible to your clientele. You are not only sharing your product, you have a rare opportunity to share much knowledge in this sphere of interest without coming off as a know-it-all. Take advantage of being the expert in the room!
On the other hand, let’s say the market is largely regulated like the real estate industry. There is a surplus of general knowledge and the public is mostly already aware of the specific service they need. Your job here is simple: find a problem in that industry, create your solution, and then Boom; your product is selling itself. All because you introduced them to a problem they didn’t know they had.
Resources determine success. You’ve got to have good rocket fuel if you want to shoot past the moon. For your tech project, your fuel consists of four key elements: people, finance, physical materials, and intellectual property.
Everyone in your project’s life cycle is important, from the conception team in the beginning to the customer in post-launch. You’ll need a dedicated team, that will include people in your company and even agencies or partners that offer services you may not have in-house. Keep in mind having an outside perspective on the health and growth of your project is helpful too and you may find yourself in need of an advisor or consultant.
No matter what industry you’re in, you have to spend money to make money, therefore, it is a good idea to have a little tucked away or a savings goal before you even start your project. Along the way, there will be opportunities to get that money back. There are several proven methods of funding. Indeed.com has a great article entitled The 8 Stages of Funding. External funding from friends and family helps but can be limited, so look for others to support your project. Don’t neglect to reach out to investors, startup incubators, or community programs.
This will include hardware, software, and tools you need to build your tech project. A physical building is included in this and it helps to keep the team connected!
Intellectual Property is the intangible value of your enterprise, this includes patents and copyrights/trademarks. There are other forms of intellectual property as well. Certain tricks of the trade are kept in-house and form a repository of knowledge over time. Guard these carefully!
Remember those details and checkpoints we mentioned earlier? Now it’s time to bring them under the microscope! Your project can seem encompassing at times but don’t forget to take a step back and ask yourself some important questions to make sure you’re staying on track. Again, you need to be sure all the work you are doing is going to be able to provide tangible solutions to the problem you are addressing. How you validate that is done by checking your project’s feasibility, desirability and viability.
Feasibility - How does this solution scale with our customers? This is another way of asking yourself if you can measure your maximum capabilities. Another question is can customers adopt this solution?
Desirability - Along with keeping the customers in mind comes the question: do they want this? What are some clues that can help answer that? Questions such as: do they use current or existing products that are similar and if so, why? Also, what do they like/hate about said products? While researching this, find out what people are paying for current products and gauge what they are willing to pay for existing products.
Viability - Consider also, very carefully, the risks of your endeavor. Does this solution align with our mission? And most importantly: is this something we can actually do?
Putting It All Together
You have thought of the cleverest solution in ages, but if no one can figure out how to work your product, it means nothing. Therefore, your design is where all of your data is actually presented. Every reason you have accumulated to make your product the most viable solution for the current market should be expressed in the product’s design.
Design With Intent & Value First
In the design stage, first begin by referencing all your customer profiles, and mapping out your customer’s journey. Members of your team can help craft functional user stories, and product reviews, they can also do some of the wireframing and high fidelity mockups.
With great design, comes the great responsibility of proper execution. If you can’t execute the plan as superbly as you designed it, you are doing yourself a disservice. But don’t trip, your execution plan can evolve to maximize your product success.
The Critical Project Path
Find the critical path: what is going to take the longest, and divide the work accordingly. There are useful software tools to help you manage your tech projects like Asana or Jira. Project management software may be a worthwhile investment to help track issues, stories, and tasks, so don’t rule them out!
Building the Project
When you are completely moved into the building phase, it is most certainly imperative…to have fun and stay engaged! Employ teams to tackle your backlog so you’re not hit with a wave of forgotten responsibilities near the finish line.
Have regular meetings and encourage team-building exercises to keep morale and energy high. Be a learning resource for your team, not just a delegator. Remember, it’s always better to have a leader than it is to have a boss.
Okay, ready to hit the market? Not quite, the most important phase before launch is yet to come. Ever heard of pre-flight checks? That’s basically the list of tasks the pilots check before take off. Your preflight check is Quality Assurance (QA).
The Phases of this are:
Stress Testing - Think back to viability and proof of concept. Remember how you wanted to know the maximum capabilities of your product? Well now that you have it, that should be the first thing you want to verify: can this thing function just as well as I want it to?
External Beta Testing - Great it works, but you and your team are the ones who built it. What about the average tech-friendly Joe? Two types of beta testing are private and public. Private is when you have a select number of limited spots for users to come and test the product. Once you get good data back from that and still need a bit more, you can open it up for public beta testing
Mock Product Service Trials - There are agencies for product service trials. You can also use the data from your private beta testing to run in-house service trials.
Track Performance With Software - We are at the end of the project lifecycle and are about to start helping people; while making tons of money but we still may have to spend a little bit more. That is why it is so important to properly manage your funding. You want to have the best product on the market so investing in performance tracking software is wise. Here is a list of some of the top application monitoring tools in 2022.
All set, now you can take off! Spread the word, promote and get people aware of your product and the solution it provides! The launch of your product will lead to new growth opportunities so be ready to take in the blessings!
What are some of those new growth opportunities and how can you be prepared for them? You will soon have potential new clients and much more! All that work you’ve put in is about to reap serious benefits, so you need to be ready!
Let’s recap the whole thing. Your tech project’s lifecycle is synonymous with a rocket launch. At the beginning, you must align your vision, plot your mission and set checkpoints, then set yourself up to properly execute your objectives. With the proper research and validation of your concept, you’ll have your plans finalized and can begin gathering the resources that will fuel your launch. Next will be designing the instruments that will take you on your journey, a.k.a. your product. After the QA process, you’ll be all set for take-off!
Now that you have the kit to plan out your tech project. Go grab that project journal, freshen up on that research, and grab those tools to get started! Thank you for sharing your time with us and know that we will continue to be of service to you! Our next blog post will address some key aspects of managing that star technical team because let’s be honest. We can’t do it all alone. See you next time!