Taking product development to the sixth dimension

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Jan 21st, 2006

New product development (NPD) is often depicted as moving through several stages. From the experience of leading projects of varying sizes, particularly developing web-based business systems, in 2001 I created a 4D framework describing the four key product development project stages (which I structured to begin with ‘D’). At the time, I called this “the four dimensions of web development”.

As mentioned in other articles, a model is only a simplified way of codifying an area of study or business that is broad and deep and can take a lifetime to master; when the model is based around specific letters (whether they spell out a word or are all the same letter) you know that that simplification has been taken to another level. Nevertheless, such models do help us to more easily recall the breadth.

Over the five years since, based on experience of applying this framework, I have now established 6 key stages (not necessarily linear) — which I still managed to name starting with a ‘D’, so it has now evolved to become 6D.

Discover >> Define >> Design >> Develop >> Deploy >> Disseminate

These stages are further defined below, with their purpose, typical actions, deliverables, and end results. Please note, this was a beginning state for projects; once the consultation / discovery stage was complete, we were able to tailor the framework to suit the project, as with the example below (click to enlarge):

Discover

Spend time with client discovering their organisation’s objectives and project goals.

Action

Determine the Strategy and Method of project; and analyse client’s Audience and Industry.

Results

Project management approach documented.

Deliverables

  • Feasibility study
  • ŸSite usability review
  • ŸBusiness case
  • Communication brief

Define

Explore the relationship between organisation objectives, project goals, and technical constraints.

Action

Define the client’s Requirements, within the Strategy and Method; set Budget, assign Team, and create Schedule; and determine approach to Quality Assurance.

Results

Requirements registered; project planned; and testing planned.

Deliverables

  • Requirements register / Product Backlog
  • ŸProduct breakdown and descriptions
  • Project plan
  • Quality plan
  • Project initiation document (PID)

Design

Produce overall design for solution to meet defined requirements.

Action

Establish the Framework for the remainder of the project.

Results

Content audited, information architecture specified, page layout designed, user journeys mapped, functionality specified, and hardware specified.

Deliverables

  • Content delivery plan
  • Site map
  • Wire frames
  • Use cases
  • Functional specification
  • Purchased hardware

Develop

Translate design by applying the approved methods to build the solution

Action

Develop Concepts; work through iterations from an early Prototype to Completed Solution;  check completed solution meets business and quality criteria; and configure and install theOperational Infrastructure.

Results

Graphic design specified; web, intranet and database developed; solution tested; and completed solution that meets the Requirements, Goals and Strategy.

Deliverables

  • design concepts
  • design style guide
  • built pages
  • developed software
  • built database
  • integrated systems
  • test records
  • hardware configuration

Deploy

Gain approval for and implement the completed solution.

Action

Support client through Acceptance Trials to the formal sign-off of Approved Solution; and  implement Approved Solution onto Operational Infrastructure;

Results

Approved Solution and supported environment

Deliverables

  • Content management availability
  • Monitoring secure
  • Managed hosting
  • Operational solution

Disseminate

Assist client in creating appropriate audience for the operational solution

Action

Run training sessions for Key Users; promote approved solution to intended audience; implement metrics to gauge success; and conduct Post-Launch Review.

Results

Trained users; awareness of and traffic to website, measured traffic, goals, and campaigns; and lessons learned.

Deliverables

  • Training
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Direct email  marketing
  • Web metrics
  • End project report

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