19 Jul 2021 - 1 min read

Why Research for Software Development Can Prevent Costly Mistakes

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“We already have a good understanding of our users; we can skip that.”

“We know what functionality we need; let’s just get started.”

“That’s nice, but we haven’t got the time…”

Sound familiar? It’s all too tempting to classify research for a software development project as a ‘nice-to-have’; something that has some value, sure – but not enough to justify wasting your already-limited time on. There’s also the issue of ever-shrinking budgets and the pressure to do more with less, again pushing research and discovery further down the priority list.

The truth, however, is that an initial focus on research could massively contribute towards a greater return further down the line; significantly reduce supposed ‘value-added’ waste (read on to find out more about this all-too-easy pitfall…); and even help you to stretch your budgets further (and smarter).

Research helps you to understand your user (no, really understand them…)

Put simply, having a general idea of who your potential users are just won’t cut it. Demographics (job title, location, company size, etc.) are essential – but don’t get too comfortable; they’re just the beginning. To truly win a user’s loyalty, understand what matters to them, and deliver a product or service that resonates, you have to dig deeper. A lot deeper.

Aberdeen Group found that businesses which actively conducted customer and market research enjoyed a 55% higher retention rate; reduced customer service-related costs by over 23%; and grew annual revenue by 48.2% year-on-year.

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research - Albert Einstein Click To Tweet

Research for software development allows you to:

  • refine the features of your MVP, based on what’s most important to the user (likely resulting in a reduced development phase, and delivering more value);
  • demonstrate hard evidence of what features and benefits your users want (making it a lot easier to secure stakeholder buy-in)

Research places your potential new product or service in the ‘real world’ – without the risk

Consider the research phase as an opportunity to view your product without the rose-tinted glasses that can often confuse optimism and enthusiasm with commercial viability. No matter how great your team is – or how aware they are of their audience – they simply can’t experience your product in the same way that a user would in a real-world situation. Assuming that they can, rather than testing those assumptions, can lead to big (and costly) problems later on. Research for software development allows you to confirm your ideas (whoop!) or identify a better approach (every day’s a school day, guys…).

There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Click To Tweet

Research and discovery also allows you to identify the value drivers that truly matter to your audience, rather than simply relying on those that you think ‘should’ be used – also referred to as ‘value-added waste’. All-singing, all-dancing products are great – but are all of the features necessary for MVP? Does your customer even want them? Or are they simply racking up your development bill, and delaying your launch date? A theoretical list of ‘must-have’ features can’t compare to the real-world insight of what functionality truly matters to your audience.

In a study conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review, it was found that just “two or three drivers generated at least 80% of the customer value” in hundreds of businesses. Further, by “focusing on product and service features that best satisfy these select drivers of customer value and eliminating those that do not, companies can reduce fixed and variable costs without lowering sales.” Research allows you to identify those key drivers, and drop the rest, guilt-free.

In short? Research matters. 

We get it. We’re a business too. We know that time is limited, budgets are tight and there’s a pressure to just move forward. This post aims to highlight that the first step in moving forward (in the best and most cost-effective way) starts with research and discovery. Ready to find out more? Let’s talk.

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