Why is it so important the distinction between building software and building a product? Because not always what you want is what you need.
Nowadays, you can find a software development company around any corner. But, are they ready for your needs? Let me share with you what we understand by product development at made2.
Let’s start by the naming. Why “product” instead of “software”?
When we talk about “software” we reduce everything to a technical term. If I ask someone: “develop an app that shows to the user a motivational quote every day inside an animated screen and every time the quote changes the user should be notified” what I would get in the end is a piece of software. I will evaluate it by looking if it’s working well (functional evaluation), for example, if the quote is shown correctly, if the animation performs well and if the user is notified every time the quote changes.
On the other hand, talking about “product” refers to something bigger. I like a product definition by Philip Kotler “Product is anything that can be offered to someone to satisfy a need or a want.”. So, I understand a product as something that adds value to the customer.
As opposed to software development, asking for a product would involve not requirements but product objectives. For example, I could ask: “Develop an app that keeps the user motivated”. For achieving this objective, there are thousands of alternatives, showing a motivational quote is just one of them. Each alternative is a hypothesis, that will be validated once it is delivered, so we won’t invest much time on the alternative we choose but instead deliver it quickly to measure the results and improve it based on the user experience and not in our thought. Improving could also mean pivoting to another alternative like for example replacing the quotes with a “share achievement” button. Therefore we are not satisfied with only having a functional evaluation. We also need a value evaluation.
Any software comes up from an idea. You start building software with the first line of code, but you start building a product as soon as the idea is shared.
In the end, you will measure software quality by looking if it does what you have asked for. But you will measure product quality by looking if it adds value to the customer.
Now that you got the difference, we can start talking on more interesting thing about product development on my post “Product development, an alternative to software development”