The average life expectancy of a company in 1955 was 75 years but as of 2015, the average life expectancy has dropped to 15 years and startup survival rate today is just 4%. Isn’t that alarming?
Well, besides all the known factors such as failed sales strategies, inability to raise funding, under delivering products and quality related issues, there’s yet another lesser known reason- product stability.
All companies regardless of their age and size should validate their product. Validation fosters quality, which is essential for both established businesses seeking to retain clients and for fledgling startups seeking to gain clients. Most startups, if not all have limited resources and budgetary constraints. They invest their energies ingetting the product ready,and beat their competition to the market. The advantage startups have is the ability to take risk, butwith the market dynamics changing quickly and new code being added constantly, the potential for new code to break the old (or at least make it behave unexpectedly) is very high.
Often startups fail to realize,it’s not just what you do but rather it’s about how well you do it. At the end of the day, it finally boils down to “Is it a Quality Product?” A few steps could help determine this qualitatively and quantitatively before it hits the market.
So then where do we start? Here is a list of four most important factors that will determine the success of validating a product at startups.
People – One must determine how many people can be devoted to take on validating the product to make it market ready. How much time they can spare for the same. Multitasking doesn’t work always. Forming a core team is essential, with people who have the ability to write frameworks etc.
Technology and Tools – There is a tendency that the young guns in the team would typically look for a geeky solution or tool(s) though it’s not required always. Writing small tools and utilities that will help cutting down manual effort is always welcome andthere are great open source tools available which can be used to build what your company needs. But remember,being practical is the key. The aim is to test effectively and bring out a high quality product in a reasonable timeline.
Process – An important trait of a successful startup is their operational outlook. A clear demarcation of a ‘Process driven’ approach from a ‘Result driven’ approach and understanding the repercussions of both is required. Long hours are spent perfecting the product to make it market ready. A simple process check can help save a lot of time and resources. Process fosters discipline and controls over enthusiasm which will eventually translate into a successful setup.
Plan, Execute, Track and Communicate: There is no need to invest in a fancy project management tool, even a simple excel is good enough as long as it captures all the information that’s relevant. Cutting corners in project planning is a recipe for disaster, no matter what the reason may be. Many companies find this to be hardest because a plan is made but the execution and tracking of it is themost important to keep the momentum going. One characteristic plaguing mostnew and complex projects is the inability for all stakeholders to ‘be on the same page’ in order to envision the same outcome. One must have clear and well defined goals and milestones with timelines that are agreed upon.
The very fact that in the last 15 years, 52% of the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared calls the attention of the founders to be aligned, both internally and to the market. The binding factor will be the product.By analyzing and answering the above questions, one can begin to zero-in on a quality assurance strategy that will work for your team. There is no one size that will fit all.
The article has been penned down by Sanjeev, Director -Quality Engineering, Capillary Technologies.