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What is your number one concern using the Cloud?

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For those of you who make products, do you prefer improving on existing ones or developing new ones?

In terms of both value to your customers, and costs to your company, which do you prefer doing? read more

Asked by:
Phil Khor Founder at SavvySME
Brad Lyons at Rodcha
I would have to say both. I spend a lot of time when it comes to research and development. One project that I have been a part of over the years is called detectivedesk.comOngoing development is required in this industry and the main reason most companies are walking away from competitors is because the competitors don't spend time on research and development.The result of R&D means we are developing new products and improving our existing products all the time. This results in more and more clients wanting to use our products. In the data industry R&D is very important. While improving products is critical it is equally important to consistently develop new products. The industry demands it and as long as we keep improving and developing new products out competitors are not able to keep up. As soon as we stop! someone else will see the gap and take over the industry. Some of the databases and CRM's I have developed are direct products of R&D. They wouldn't exist otherwise. Basically, every industry I am in I spend a lot of time on R&D. When you play with large datasets, the more time you spend on R&D the more advancements you contribute to the industry and the more you contribute the more people notice you.On the other hand, if you believe a product is broken or you believe there could be future issues then you should start on developing a new product. That doesn't mean you stop production or R&D. When it comes to software, applying updates and patches can only last so long. It is much better to take a step back and start coding from scratch. I was involved in a project were the client wanted to develop an entirely new CRM. The old CRM was great however was always being patched and didn't have the ability to grow and adapt with the business. In this case the solution was to start from scratch, while one team was dedicated to maintaining the old system another team was involved in developing the new system. Once the new system was ready it was put through beta testing and once that was completed it was rolled out in stages. A slow release in some cases is the best option. So, improve the old or develop new? Both. If you believe there is a potential issue with one of your current products, start from scratch while maintaining the current product. Identify the issues, test alternative ways and run simulations to test under pressure. All part of R&D. That is what I love about business, R&D, always looking to improve and create new ways of doing things.
Steve MainOwner at Onesystem
I am very fortunate to be in a position to do both and love these opportunities. A tweak here and there, a quick fix, customise to help a client solve a problem, bolt on an addition function and of course build a new one. Its a balancing act, to ensure short term achievements align with long term strategies and sometimes acknowledging that the limitations require a new train of thought.Tonight I have worked on both, a new small application (in this case building a new application has been quicker and more cost effective) and a customisation of a larger application (small customisation to enhance the user experience and grow with the business). Tonight I am not sure I can choose what I preferred, both equally have been very rewarding.Steve
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Questions

Do you consider it worthwhile to create a prototype?

What steps did you take before going into production, did you create a prototype first? if so, did... read more

Asked by:
Phil Khor Founder at SavvySME
Wei Yew Teoh
In short, I think in most cases creating a prototype is a great idea!I believe the benefits to name a few are:Develop a greater understanding of your product;It provides you insight on where to go next, aspects to improve, features to highlight;It provides you information on better time management;Designs and ideas always tell a different story when its still on the back of a paper napkin, until you finally start to develop it.
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Phil,Great question. As a designer fully believe and promote building prototypes first. This is an ingrained part of my learning (aside from knowledge of the Lean Startup). Prototyping doesn't have to be a confusing process, so let me go into some of the benefits of prototyping.Prototypes Help:Early Exploration - They do this because depending on your end product, you can start with a doodle on a napkin with several notes. Prototypes can also be build from cardboard, clay, or other easy to work materials. By taking several passes (or iterating) on your concept you can easily create several variations instead of 1 final product.Comparatively Low Cost - Prototypes being built from the materials mentioned above are inexpensive compared to materials that may be used for the final product. Using lower cost materials means that you can again make several variations without spending a lot of money up front (this process doesn't have a required "minimum purchase order").Refine Your Understanding - When you first start out with the end goal of making a product, prototyping through multiple variations will help reveal any short comings or areas to improve the product further. Use this knowledge to your advantage.Test and Test Again - Put these prototypes in front of potential customers multiple times over several of your prototype variations. This is a great time to get feedback before you end up spending too much of your overall budget.There is obviously many more benefits of prototyping but these are some of the most beneficial. I highly recommend the process to everyone that has never tried it. I welcome more questions and discussion on this topic.
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Apart from a good idea, what would you need for successful product development?

What steps have you, or would you follow when trying to develop your own product?  read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Yee,I think this is a question that can help a lot of people forward in their journey.Flush Out The Idea - For an idea to become more than something in your head or doodled down on a napkin you need to expand on it. How? The easy way to do this is write down short clear thoughts and then categorize them into groups (e.g. Product, Target Audience, Price, Sales Channels, etc.). You can and should iterate on this process multiple times over the period of several days or weeks depending on the complexities of the underlying idea.Test Quickly & Inexpensively - You need to validate that your idea is worth pursuing with your time, energy and money before getting too attached to it. How? By using inexpensive or free tools to test your assumptions. You could quickly craft up a survey using Google Forms, Survey Monkey or other related tools to put one or several different surveys together. To ensure the surveys serve your purpose decide are you trying for "breadth" of answers (quantity) or "depth" of answers (quality). I don't recommend trying to do both in one survey. After you determine that, use your connections within your physical network or across social networks to share your survey with the type of customers you are hoping to connect with (don't just blast this and have anyone and everyone answer - doing so will dilute the strength of the collected information).Review Results - After collecting the desired number of survey responses, pour over the data without being quick to make judgments. Remember that you need to be open and connected with your potential customers. Do not disregard their feedback as uneducated, incorrect or invalid, or you will do so at your own peril. If your potential customers clearly need something else or want something slightly different, adjust your idea based on this feedback to better connect with your potential customers.Now You Need To Build - This is the time where you need to put together an early version of your product. If you are a baker start working kinks out of the recipe, if a furniture maker build a scale model, if software maker create a paper or low fidelity prototype.How? You need to be judicious with what you put into this version of the product. Ask yourself, "If I don't include this, will customers still get value?" If yes, leave the feature out, if no put a rough version of the feature into the design. Review each decision against the feedback you previously received. Is rough version ready to be put in front of potential customers? No, but you will do it anyway. It is counter-intuitive to test something that isn't "polished" or "finished" but it helps you iterate and adjust to feedback before you get so far along in the process you can't afford to later. Iterate Again - Take that initial round of feedback on your rough version and start building the next slightly better version of your product. How? Did you notice users not using a feature or not liking a feature? Pull it out. Don't try to rationalize leaving it in, the customers have spoken (you can always try the feature out again in a future version). Remember, if you don't include everything the customers want in the next version it is okay. Measure putting something in whether that would still be value without including it.This of course has quite an alignment to the Lean Startup Methodology by Eric Ries, however, I do have some of my own liberties coming from a background of Product Design. I've also spent several months on putting documentation and forms and interactive forms together to put this process to a time table. However, it is not quite ready for public consumption. I will say, stay to relatively short blocks of time. If at any point your potential customers or your research proves an idea to be unsustainable for a business, go back to the drawing board and start on another idea.Above all remember the process to continuously iterate and improve your offering, even once you have successfully launched and are making money. Comfort and complacency never lead to future growth or innovation.
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Product development

Instead of Worrying About Products vs. Features, Focus on Building Solutions

Home Latest Top 50 How To Lists X Switch back to...read more

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Product development

Apple Expected To Announce New iPads (LIVE BLOG)

Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to introduce new iPads, including an update to its iPad mini tablet...read more

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Product development

List of 5 plumbing spare parts every DIY guy must have at home

We’ve all been there. Sunday afternoon, relaxing in front of the telly when wifey screams from... read more

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Sean McMahon
Hey Patrick, your checklist is really worthwhile. I think every person should know that much about plumbing so that he/she is able to fix minor issues by himself/herself at home. I found this blog regarding plumbing tips which was very informative. Have a look here - http://www.drainworks.com/blog/2013/12/holiday-plumbing-problems-plumber-toronto/ and here is the PDF explanation of how to use different plumbing products - http://www.southcoastsales.com/catalogues
Hi Patrick, what a cool idea to make sure you have these things around at home as a minimum... I shall go out to Bunnings immediately... or rather the local family owned hardware store
Product development

Step, pivot, repeat

There are many, many cliche terms thrown around start-up businesses. Some of them are obvious in... read more

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Wendy HuangFull Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes
Great article Andrew! I love the emphasis on repeat! That's something I'm trying to focus on at the moment because sometimes you think you've done it once it's enough but you need to keep repeating the process :D~ Thanks for the reminder again!
Product development

Why your product has to fit your business

A strange thing happens when a business adds to its products or services. Often by trying to expand... read more

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Phil JoelDirector at SavvySME
Great advice Andrew. As business owners, I think it's important to keep ourselves honest with a structured approach to test new products / services otherwise we will end up getting too excited and biased with the new idea.
Questions

Do you think the art installation is dangerous?

Darebin Council's High St, Northcote median strip art installation sparks social media backlash.... read more

Asked by:
Cassidy Poon Head of Digital & Social Media at LogicalTech Group
Ling LeeDirector at Japanese Sword Auctions Australia
Cassidy, I'm not familiar with Northcote's High St but a quick Google search has shown me what looks like a potentially hazardous art installation! I do agree that it looks dangerous (even more so now that I see a watermelon being smashed on top of it). However, the art installation is placed where people are not supposed to be crossing anyway - and thus the amount of backlash it has received is highly unjustified.
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Product development

SPEC IT... SPEC IT GOOD.

In Australia (likely most western countries) we tend to get a bit lazy on the matter of... read more

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Brian Le Mon Owner at GBOS
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Product development

Shilpa and Atul Bhouraskar Interview - Yes Course, Episode #50 On The Peter Montgomery Show

The Peter Montgomery Show Episode #50 Today on the show: Shilpa and Atul Bhouraskar are the... read more

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