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Product Development Team

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10 min read
Szymon
Szymon Dyrlaga - Content Strategist

Multidisciplinary, dedicated product development team has the knowledge and experience to take ownership of the product and to build it from scratch. Starting from vision and market research up to the scaling phase. Such a team works in Agile methodology, cooperates constantly with the client and focuses on delivering business value. Dedicated product development team is more like a partner, not just a service provider. However, to fully understand this, one must first know the differences between software and product development.

Software development vs product development

There is one main difference between software and product development. The difference is that product is something bigger than software. To develop a working and successful product, you need to focus on many factors, such as:

  • Product vision and strategy;
  • Market research;
  • Product marketing;
  • Fundraising;
  • UX design;
  • Software development.
  • Monetization

All this shows that people who want to create innovative products actually need a partner who will not only realize their ideas but will help at every stage of the project, and take ownership of the development process. 

Knowing this and having many years of experience in working with startups, we decided that our core offer would be multidisciplinary teams dedicated to a given product. These teams do not consist only of developers, but also Product Owner, Scrum Master, and UX/UI designers. In addition, our specialists assist startups during the fundraising process. Later in this article, you will see how these teams work.

How does the dedicated product development team work?

Companies that care about customers’ business, like Pragmatic Coders, always start with discovering their needs and capabilities in order to offer the right services and determine the size of the team.

Working with startups on early stage

As it was said, the product development team works with clients on product vision and strategy. To shape them, they:

  • Conduct market research - experienced teams realize that it’s important to know market demand, target audience, and users’ expectations at the very beginning. Sometimes the results of these researches allow for a quick change in vision and priorities that could be costly at a later stage. 
  • Hold Lean product canvas workshop - which is helpful to describe a business model of a client's product. Yes, great product development teams never forget that products should bring money.
  • Work on value proposition - to define the most important components of your offering, how you relieve pain, and create gains for your target audience. It can be used later to define a product MVP.
  • Co-create a road map - a team together with a client sets priorities and defines the scope of work in each stage. Moreover, the Product Owner, who is part of the team, should strive to reduce the client's requirements as much as possible at the very beginning of the project. This way the team can focus only on the most priority things. 
  • Assist in the fundraising process - product development team should support startups in contacts with investors and help them raise funds. For example, Pragmatic Coders specialists help prepare a professional pitch deck that increases startup credibility in the eyes of investors.

Teams in Pragmatic Coders, for example, use the MoSCoW method to prioritize work and specify what has to be done first. In this method, M stands for MUST HAVE, S - SHOULD HAVE, C - COULD HAVE, W - WON’T HAVE. When working on MVP, they focus on MUST HAVE features.

Being Agile, using Scrum and Lean UX approach

Now every software development team wants to be Agile (unfortunately not everyone is). But for the product development team, the challenge is bigger, because it doesn’t consist of developers working in Scrum alone. The team is made up of many different, multiskilled people, who have to work effectively together and cooperate with a client.  

To be Agile, it’s worth using the lean UX approach and combining it with Scrum. Such an approach says that:

  • All team members including designers and developers should participate in the project from its start to have full knowledge and context; 
  • All team members should participate in meetings (like Scrum events, project kick-off, etc.);
  • All members have an impact on all parts of the project. So, not only UX specialist is responsible for the design - all the team is. 

Working on MVP 

Smart product development teams minimize the scope of the project, prioritize the work to be done, and describe Minimum Viable Product. Why is it important? Because the sooner the product touches the market, the sooner the team will know if it meets expectations and in which direction it’s worth developing.

The key role of Product Owner is the most clear on this stage of the process. Having an unorganized, chaotic cloud of thoughts and ideas is crucial to shape it into a tangible project and decide which parts are the most important from both a business and development perspective. Moreover, the Product Owner is responsible for good communication with the client and takes care of the product from their business perspective while they are busy talking to investors. 


Pragmatic product team loves to create new things but remembers first and foremost that a product is created to solve user problems, and through their satisfaction, it delivers business value.

If the team is dedicated to the project and can establish well what must go into the MVP and what can be postponed, going live is possible even within 2-3 months.

Want to work with the best product development teams?
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Who will develop your product? Choose wisely!

Whether you are a small startup looking for investors, or a huge company seeking to release a new app or feature, you will have to decide between hiring your own IT department, relying on regular outsourcing, or choosing a dedicated development team. Now you know what the teams are and how they work. It’s time to compare them to the in-house IT department and outsourcing software development teams. For this comparison we will use 10 dimensions:

  1. Costs and risk

    Having an in-house IT department is a solution often chosen by large companies and corporations. It is certainly convenient in the long run, as the company has better access to the employees who are located at its headquarters. On the other hand, it’s very expensive, and for companies that just want to release their product, also risky, because it is not really known yet whether the product will fit the market and whether it will make real money.

    It is certainly cheaper to outsource software/product development to companies that specialize in it. Of course, in this case, the price range can also be large. Among other things, it depends on the country in which the outsourcing takes place and on the scope. Here, the choice is up to the client, who must consider whether they just want software developers or someone who will work with them more extensively. It’s worth noting that choosing the cheapest outsourcing solution may result in the team working on other projects at the same time, and this may be followed by various errors and delays.

  2. Hidden costs

    When building an in-house IT department, the previous point mentioned the cost of hiring employees. However, additional costs should be added to that. As you probably know, the demand for good professionals in the IT world is huge. A company that wants to recruit such people has to prepare a budget to pay for HR agencies (unless it has its own recruitment specialists - then these are the costs calculated by their time). In addition, there is a need to allocate appropriate funds for advertising with job offers and employer branding. 

    And when the company manages to hire the right specialists, it has to reckon with the fact that only after some time and jointly developed processes the team will be able to work effectively. 

    The employer must also allocate funds for employee training and for office space and supplies, although of course, this is no longer necessary as many companies have proven that effective remote working is possible.

    However, when outsourcing development to other companies, the hidden costs are just the time spent finding the right partner.

  3.  Access to knowledge & experience

    The knowledge and experience of a company's new in-house IT department will come from the knowledge and experience of its members but as separate entities. Therefore, this is where teams that specialize in working with startups gain a huge advantage. They already have knowledge and experience resulting from dozens of projects completed together. It is also worth mentioning that traditional software development teams know how to produce software efficiently. Dedicated product development teams will have vast knowledge in many disciplines, as they consist of specialists from many fields. They will also be able to communicate efficiently with company representatives, which is an invaluable benefit.

  4. Organizational culture, Lean & Agile

    As it is known, a brand new IT department has yet to develop its organizational culture, processes within the team, and the way it cooperates with other members of the company, such as the management.

    Software development teams already have internal processes in place, can work in an agile way, use Scrum, and deliver the increment in an iterative way. However, there are a few question marks. What does the client-team collaboration look like? Does the client have access to all members of the team or to one delegated person? Do the developers have processes for working with designers? These issues need to be verified before the collaboration begins.

    Dedicated product development teams have a huge advantage in this area. They are like software development teams, but they have developed processes at every level of the product work. This is due in great part to the Product Owner who is part of the team and can make sure that the team is focused on what is a priority for the customer.

  5. Dedication to a product

    In-house IT and dedicated product development teams are solutions where all members are dedicated to the product and are able to fully focus on its objectives. In the case of software outsourcing, this is not guaranteed.

  6. Commitment to a product

    In this aspect, software development outsourcing performs the weakest. This is due to the fact that software development teams are only contractors who have no influence on the direction in which the project should be developed. These teams sometimes create multiple projects at once, so their attachment is very impermanent.

    In contrast, in-house IT and dedicated product development teams are committed to the product, because they participate in the development from the very beginning.

  7. Ownership

    It is pretty clear that an in-house IT department has ownership over a given project, while an outsourced software team does not. And what does it look like in the case of a dedicated product development agency? For example, at Pragmatic Coders, we believe that we need to take responsibility to understand the context, make good decisions, and act. The product team, including Product Owner, designers, and developers, need to have a part of the control. This comes from years of experience working with startups. Thanks to it we are able to offer the client the most optimal solutions and advise in what direction to lead the product. Of course, we verify everything before by conducting tests with users.
  8. Participation in the development stages

    If a company has its own IT department, which not only consists of developers but also Product Owners and designers,  it is able to create a product in-house from start to finish. This is, of course, a big argument for building your own team. However, it's worth mentioning that the internal IT department doesn't have as much strategic knowledge as teams that have been working with startups for years.  It also doesn’t help in fundraising.

    In the case of outsourcing, it looks different. Most teams deal only with software development and delivery, a stage that occurs only after the conceptual stage, research, and fundraising. Only dedicated teams that focus entirely on the product are able to help at every stage - with strategy, fundraising, and product development. 

  9. Cross-functionality

    A company that manages to create an in-house, multidisciplinary product team can say that it has achieved great success. However, as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, building it from scratch is quite a challenge, which is time-consuming and requires hiring many people. However, it is possible, and having such a team undoubtedly gives a lot of benefits, like independence in product development.

    Software development agencies typically provide teams of aligned developers. Additionally, they offer the services of design specialists as well as project managers. However, it often happens that these groups do not work together as a single team, but each focuses only on its own tasks. 

  10. Communication

The basis for good cooperation between client and developers team is frequent conversations. So, having an in-house IT department is  certainly a convenience. Especially if team members learn to communicate with each other and with people outside. 

But, working with an external team doesn’t mean that clear communication is impossible. Clients should be able to contact software/product development team anytime they feel it’s necessary either by chat (for examplen Slack) or ad hoc calls. Moreover, teams often work in Agile methodology, which requires cyclical review and retrospective meetings. However, it’s worth trusting companies that hire experienced Product Owners and those that have been working on new products for years. 

 

The following table summarizes the above comparison:

10 dimensions to consider In-house IT department Outsourcing software development  Product Development Team
Cost & risk High hiring costs, big risks for startups Low costs, risk of delays Low/medium costs, low risk
Hidden costs Additional expenses for recruiting, HR, employer branding, office space Time spent finding the right partner Time spent finding the right partner
Access to knowledge & experience Knowledge of individual team members, lack of collective experience in product/software development Extensive knowledge and experience in software development Extensive knowledge and experience in product development (from start to finish)
Organizational culture, Lean & Agile All processes have yet to be developed Proven processes between developers, fully Agile approach to software development Proven processes within the entire team, fully Agile approach to product development
Dedication to a product Yes No Yes
Commitment to a product High commitment Low commitment High commitment
Ownership Yes No Yes
Participation in the development stages Participation in the creation of the entire product (but not always at the strategy stage) Participation in the software development stage only Possible participation at any stage, including strategy development and fundraising
Communication Very good Sometimes problems occur Goog/very good
Cross-functionality Yes/Possible Not always Yes

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