The service industry has been growing leaps and bounds in the last decade and is continuing to do so, steadily, the product industry too has been trying to steadily catch up. We have more and more business organizations coming up offering better products and better services and catering to larger customer base.
The product industry and the service (in this case the software) industry have a lot of similarities though their differences are more apparent. Many manufacturers now offer their own service operations and both require skilled people to create a profitable business.
Let’s take a closer look at how these industries function and what makes them similar or different.
The product and the service development cycle:
The first step: (Ideation)
Product: Generating a fresh idea for the product forms the first step. Customer surveys and feedback on existing products and then examining the industry to mark areas where useful products do not exist, helps generating these ideas. Pros and cons of each idea are discussed with the management team to narrow down on the best product ideas among the rest. The list is then whittled after discussions with employees and partners and considering customer’s opinions.
Service: Determining requirements forms the first step. Meetings with managers, stakeholders, and users are held in to determine basic requirements like who is the user of the system? How is the user going to operate the system? What data inputs and data outputs are required? Etc. After the necessary requirements are gathered, they are analysed for their validity. Then the possibility of incorporating these requirements in the system to be developed is studied.
At the planning stage, motivation, self-assessment and Adjustment to changing thought process is extra necessary. Deadlines need to be taken into account at each stage and suitable management of the same should be done.
The second step (Analysis):
Product: The product idea that is finally narrowed down is analysed from a business perspective. If competition for that product exists, it is calculated. Then determination of the demand for the product is made and costs affiliated to the product including developmental and operational costs are estimated.
Service: Along with the assistance of client focus groups, the project team gauges the end user requirements. Often this is done with the assistance of client focus groups, which provide an idea of the expectations for the finished product and how it will perform. The project team then documents all of the user requirements and gets a clearance from the client and management to move forward with system design.
The third step: (design)
Product: a prototype of the product is made initially after a thorough brainstorming. This prototype is then sent across to key partners and a few loyal customers, asking for their opinion and feedback. Based on the feedback given, the product may or not be evaluated and modified.
Software design specifies hardware and system requirements and also helps define the basic layout. These design specifications serve as an input to for the next phase of the model.
The fourth step (Build)
The build stage follows the prototyping stage. The engineering team focuses on developing the modules, sub-modules, functions, sub-functions to come up with a first version of the product that is in line with the prototype.
Developers follow the coding guidelines set by their organization, they use programming tools like compilers, interpreters, debuggers etc. are used to generate the code. The programming language is chosen with respect to the type of software being developed and then the software product is actually built.
All effort should be made to keep the product/ service as close to what the customer demands as possible because eventually the responsibility of the builder, isn’t just limited to warranty.
At every step of the way, whether developing a product or a service, it is essential to employ real- time driven resource management for the project. This process is dynamic and should be continued consistently to avoid schedule delays and cost overruns.