How to Plan and Test Your New Product or Service in a Week.

We all know the same secret, a properly designed and executed product release only goes well if it is widely accepted by your target market.   

But what if it isn't?  Your company stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars on research and development, marketing, management, and production.  This isn't new.  Large companies know this and budget appropriately, but what about your small or medium sized business?

Regardless of the size of your business, you need a systematized approach to planning your product or service release that allows you to forecast challenges and determine how your target market will respond to your offering. While marketing seeks to understand these challenges and strives to provide answers so you can meet them head on, even marketing does not have a crystal ball.  What if there were a process to shorten the learning curve on solving these problems?

Google Ventures has done just that with their "Product/Service Design Sprint".  This process provide all the hard fought answers to tough questions to ensure the profitability and mitigate obstacles of your new product or service release.  As a matter of fact, their sprint process can be used for solving almost any problem that you might encounter as a business owner or manager. They actually use teach this process to the management or owners of each of the businesses they invest in to create a common language centered around the creation of value and profitability.

The Sprint is a 5 day process with each of the 5 days focusing on specific elements.  Here is how it breaks down :

Monday. This is the day to set the stage for the rest of the sprint and really understanding what you are trying to accomplish. You will decide on what problem you are trying to solve or the goal of the sprint, collect information from the experts, and map out the challenge or problem.

Tuesday. Now that you understand what you are trying to accomplish, you will start the day looking at existing solutions that can be "tweaked" to solve your problem.  Then you will spend time sketching out a four step process to solve the problem. You will also start recruiting ideal customers to evaluate the prototype of your service or product on Friday.

Wednesday. Hump day starts with voting on the solutions your team came up with on Tuesday.  Then you will begin to storyboard the solution step by step to ensure you are creating a realistic and winning prototype. Of course, this will be the solution that gives you the best chance at long term success.

Thursday.  From the storyboard you created yesterday, you will create a "Fake it" prototype (a facade to test with your ideal customers recruited to help you test on Friday. This is a prototype that can be created in a single day. You will also confirm with all testers for Friday's test of your prototype.

Friday.  Friday isn't the end of your product or service development, much the opposite, it is the jumping off point.  You will interview the ideal customers you selected on Tuesday and watch how the interact with your prototype.  At the end of Friday you will have a solid idea of what you have left to do and what you need to do next.  

By following this process, you can shave months off your design of your next great product or service, and you can also determine "duds" early before committing people, time, and money only to abandon them much further down the development pipeline.

If you would like more information about the Google Ventures Design Sprint and a copy of an outline and worksheets to complete your own Sprint, complete the form below.

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