Building the Right Thing: An Essential Component of Project Success

By Peter Honnor, Product Director

70% of digital transformation projects fail.

Well, the figure varies depending on the source, but it’s high.

Yet, this isn’t something we see here at Steer73 and that’s not down to luck.

Why do projects fail?

In most of the cases we’ve studied, there is a common underlying theme – companies built the wrong thing. 

That might seem straightforward and a very simple answer to a very big question, but digging deeper, there are a few core areas in which companies often miss the mark when it comes to defining and building their services. 

First is how companies know and understand their users’ needs and expectations. Knowing exactly what your users need, want, and will successfully engage with, is key to creating a successful product or service. Companies must truly understand what a user needs from a product or service and their motivations for choosing one proposition over another. History has shown on many occasions that even if you build the best technical solution, make it look brilliant and function perfectly, but if users don’t need, want, or get better utility from it, it will fail. 

Next is how the product or service supports the business that has created and launched it.  Alignment and integration into a wider business strategy is key to product success, as ultimately, it must support the business to succeed. Additionally, only by achieving total business buy-in and alignment to internal goals, support structures and activities will a product thrive in the marketplace and be truly championed by a business. 

Finally, technology. Over the last 20 years, technology has advanced at breakneck speed, and if I look back to the crude Java apps created and launched on mobile devices back in the early days of 3G, it feels like a different world. 

We truly are in the age of anything when it comes to technical delivery, and therein lies the problem - it’s almost become too easy to build the wrong thing.

Here at Steer73, we have a brilliant development team lead by Phil Marland, and I’m confident that Phil and his team could develop anything a client could dream of. Have a desire to build a service that plays an airhorn in your CEOs bedroom anytime an order comes in that’s over £100k?  Phil and his team could build it.  Looking to build a mobile app that allows users to be alerted when a neighbour’s cat is wandering too close to your dog and trouble could be brewing? Phil and his team could build it.   

We truly are in the age of anything when it comes to technical delivery, and therein lies the problem – it’s almost become too easy to build the wrong thing.  Therefore, the most valuable asset we possess in creating any digital product or service is the steadfast knowledge that we are building the right thing. 

The process to ensure you build the right thing

To deliver this, we have a proven, documented and extremely well-worked process to help us arrive at the right solutions for our clients. This is the culmination of decades of experience in the creation of digital services. 

Scoping 
Initially, we thoroughly interrogate a client’s brief in our scoping phase – our goal here is to truly understand the nature of the problem or challenge presented and fully understand the parameters into which we can deliver a solution.  We may challenge the original brief, propose alternative and new solutions, or work with a client to help refine their brief to resolve their initial key challenge.  Building the right solution for a client fundamentally begins with ensuring we understand the complete nature, scope and type of challenge being presented, and our scoping phase is specifically designed to deliver this.

Solution definition
We then move into solution definition, where we work with our internal Technologists, Product Strategist, Product Managers and Designers to design exactly how we should seek to resolve a client’s challenge.  We will review comparable and competitor services, we may perform a detailed market and sector review and speak to both internal stakeholders and end-users to ensure we are defining a solution that works for everyone.  During this phase, we will define our product backlog, our technical approach, architecture, and the end-to-end flows and visuals that will bring our service to life.  At the end of this stage, we will have planned, defined, tested, validated and agreed with our client the best possible solution to their original problem, eliminating the risk of building the wrong thing. 

Implementation
With our validated solution, we move into our implementation stage, where the detailed development and production beings.  We work closely with clients to ensure all of our assets, requirements, and technical approaches still align with their goals, and work to produce and test our validated solution.  Throughout our implementation stage, we also work to ensure we build in all key reporting, tracking, and monitoring tools required to successfully observe and measure product performance post-launch. 

Launch
Finally, we move to launch!  At this point, our solution is ready for training, marketing and rollout, and usually, months of hard work, testing and development come to fruition.  At Steer73, we very much believe that the launch of any product or service is only its first iteration – any product should and must grow and change as more users engage with the service.  We will constantly monitor and review all BI, MI and user feedback generated through our launch process, ensuring that not only is the product or service fit for launch on day 1 but will continue to grow and improve over the coming months and years. 

We strive to build one thing for our clients, the right thing - the right solution for their business, the right experience for their users, utilising the right technology.

I believe it is a combination of these proven processes, a world-class team and our technical capabilities that contribute to the success of client projects at Steer73.  

We strive to build one thing for our clients, the right thing – the right solution for their business, the right experience for their users, utilising the right technology.