The worst thing I’ve heard from a new entrepreneur is that they spent $60k+ on a prototype and it still doesn’t work. Here are 3 things experienced founders and product managers do that will save you a lot of money and time. They rely on a roadmap, requirements, and plan for maintenance/support. Even if you can code, knowing what to buy and when can impact your budget and your release date. Let’s get into why and how each thing is important
A roadmap is a plan for what and when you will build and turn things on. A roadmap keeps you focused and helps you prioritize all the moving pieces for successfully launching a startup. Without a roadmap, how will you know what needs to be created first and when to hire a development shop? If you are doing the building, how will you know what technology to pay for and when?
The best way to create a roadmap for your app or website is to figure out what base technology you need to start, and then add your core features one by one. You should prioritize your features based on which features set you apart and which features are needed for other features to function. Any additional technology and features can be added to the end of the roadmap, but their order will most likely change based on feedback from your customers when you launch your base website or app. The roadmap you created will give you or your development shop a clear task list to get through. Adding due dates is next, but that is hard to do before you write out your requirements.
Most new founders will start building or talking to devs before they even lock down the minimum requirements needed for their idea, let alone the requirements of each feature of their idea. If you don't have requirements, how do you decide when your project and its features are complete? Building without requirements will cause something called “scope creep”, which means you will never officially be finished developing as you will continue to add requirements and features as ideas come up. Scope creep is the main reason first-time founders who aren’t technical end up with $60k+ bills to development shops and no working prototype.
Example Product Requirement Document from aha.io (link below)
A great way to start creating requirements is to break up your roadmap into manageable phases and created a requirement document for each phase and each of the features or technologies. Product Managers typically use something called a Product Requirement Document (link below) to help keep things organized and thorough. By defining your requirements you can now start assigning completion dates to each feature or technology, and from there estimate the completion date for each phase.
Maintenance and Support
With all the excitement from building and launching a website or app, most new founders forget to create a plan on how to support and maintain their website and app. What happens when a bug is found that breaks everything? What happens when you need to add more things?
Starting those discussions with your development shop and planning out who and how to implement fixes will keep you ahead of costs that could quickly skyrocket. If you and your team are doing the support, outlining responsibilities and how to react to bugs will keep your team organized when everyone is stressed out from an urgent bug.
With your roadmap, requirements, and support plan created, you will be more than ready to create and stick to a development budget. These will definitely take some time to do, but spending the time to prepare instead of burning the money to catch up later will be more than worth it.
Product Requirement Document template and how to create them