Tech Anatomy of a Startup – Part 5

Over the last four parts of this series, we have seen many parts of the startup journey, specifically from the technology anatomy perspective. We also touched upon seemingly outlying topics such as customer perspective and user experience. But we also saw how these elements are tied deeply into the technology playing field. In this section we look at project management, the need for Devops, and a few other considerations.

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Single-man projects are not necessarily project-managed effectively.

We have seen early on that one-man armies are not a great idea for startup product creation. A concerted effort involving multiple talents such as UI/UX and testing are essential. Project management professionals will help you keep this all together. Entrepreneurs are bound to think, “Well, if I can’t manage my own project, how do you expect me to manage my startup? I got this!”. With all due respects, you went beyond the role of a PM, the day you struck out on your own as an entrepreneur. You will have a bunch of other things to worry about which will be much more important than project managing your product development. You would best be the product owner. Engage a proper PM who is trained in one of the many methods of managing projects.

Along with an experienced product development team, ensure you also have a robust project management process.

As your product development team grows, you will need to institute a project management process to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal. The project manager will be responsible for keeping the team on track and ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget.

When choosing a project manager, there are a few things to remember. First, they should have experience in product development. This way, they will be able to understand the unique challenges that come with developing a new product.

Second, they should be organized and detail-oriented. This will help them keep track of all the moving parts of the project and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Finally, they should be able to communicate with the development team and the product owner effectively. This way, they can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings.

Choosing the right project manager is essential to the success of your product development project. Make sure you take the time to find someone who has the right skills and experience for the job. It will pay off in the end.

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DevOps helps even in the early stages. In fact, if you get it right from the very beginning, you will be on firm ground when you build faster and more during the latter part of product evolution.

DevOps is many times considered as required for large organizations with large projects. Why should startups be worried too much about this? 

Well, the truth is that DevOps is a philosophy as well as a work culture first and everything else later. If this work culture is introduced at the time of the inception of the team and the organization, it will help immensely. This is our experience. 

The DevOps that you implement does not need to be very sophisticated. Have a simple CI/CD pipeline to start with. Have your agile project management process coupled into the CI/CD pipeline. Your well prioritized requirements flow into sprints and the team develops and test it. There is a proper dev environment, a test environment and a production environment setup in simple and easy ways. The project manager as well as the technical lead ensure that the team follows the simple day-today discipline of sticking to the process. These small steps will amount to huge gains and victories in a matter of time. It is almost magical how this works.

When choosing a project manager, there are a few things to remember. First, they should have experience in product development. This way, they will be able to understand the unique challenges that come with developing a new product.

Second, they should be organized and detail-oriented. This will help them keep track of all the moving parts of the project and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Finally, they should be able to communicate with the development team and the product owner effectively. This way, they can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings.

Choosing the right project manager is essential to the success of your product development project. Make sure you take the time to find someone who has the right skills and experience for the job. It will pay off in the end.

Build Vs Buy decisions

Not everything has to be built from scratch. Your end product may have many individual elements that are already available elsewhere. The solution you create is unique, of course. But it can always be brought together using existing solutions or components thereof. 

However, when you set out to buy or re-use something that already exists, let your technical experts dive deep to understand the interoperability and ease of integration of these external components. Once they approve it, do not hesitate to buy or reuse it. It can reduce time to market, and will certainly help you avoid re-inventing the wheel.

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Considerations of the Journey from Product to Platform

This is a whole subject in itself. We will take this topic up in a lot of detail in one of our later blogs. But this is also a good place to touch upon this briefly. 

When you build your product, think of how it can become a platform in the future. This means that you will build the product to allow many other products to work with yours to provide enhanced value to your customers. Your product will need to be open in its architecture. It should be highly API driven. It should permit and support collaborations with related services and products. 

This requires a lot of confidence and courage to do. But the growth of platforms is manifold compared to products. It pays off greatly if you can make the right alliances in the marketplace.

However, when you set out to buy or re-use something that already exists, let your technical experts dive deep to understand the interoperability and ease of integration of these external components. Once they approve it, do not hesitate to buy or reuse it. It can reduce time to market, and will certainly help you avoid re-inventing the wheel.

Conclusion

Startup journeys are roller-coaster rides. The key is to enjoy every part of it, keep learning every day, grow wiser as we progress. Team work will always remain the mainstay of success in these journeys. Technology is only an enabler. All of us know that. However, entrepreneurs would do well to stay aware of all aspects of technology, customer, market and value creation at all times. The trick really lies in bringing it all together in the right proportion, at the right time.