6 Idea Screening Steps for Successful App Development Projects
A successful idea screening process requires critical thinking and qualitative and quantitative research. A development team’s process breaks down into the following six steps:
- Identify industry pain points
- Research the competitive landscape
- Generate concepts, requirements, and plans
- Create criteria for your ideas
- Conduct a SWOT analysis
- Collect consumer feedback
This article will highlight six steps for effective idea screening for application-based products.
Identify Industry Pain Points
Every industry and audience group has unique needs and expectations of technical solutions. In order to develop cutting-edge yet sensible products, you must brainstorm and gather information about existing service gaps or challenges in your industry.
This information can come from consumer feedback on your current products or from internal teammates. Regardless of their origin, these pain points will inform your technical solutions.
Your development team will be best equipped to determine good solutions when you thoroughly understand the problems at hand.
Research the Competitive Landscape
Researching the competitive landscape is important for pre-screening potential solutions.
By understanding what solutions exist in the market, you’ll be prepared to identify additional service gaps that may not have been as apparent at the beginning of your research.
Additionally, this research will give you the chance to see industry trends in action. Take note of your competitors’ solutions and how they position themselves. Document any significant solutions, recurring trends, and areas for improvement that you can address with your product.
As you develop your product, you must differentiate yourself while embodying important, modern industry trends. Acknowledging these trends will help you carve out a space for your new product during the planning stages.
Generate Concepts, Requirements, and Plans
In order to properly evaluate your idea, it's essential to develop a general plan for your product.
The plan doesn’t have to be super in-depth. However, it should provide a roadmap through to the app launch and maintenance stage of the project.
Before outlining your plan, you should clearly define the requirements for your final deliverable with stakeholders. Whether intended for internal or external use, the non-negotiable characteristics should be front-of-mind before you dive into concept mapping.
When building your requirements list, you should be mindful of the different types of business requirements for app development projects. The necessary features for the app exist in two categories: functional and non-functional.
Functional requirements relate to the capabilities of an app. For example, one requirement might be “my final product must include in-app photo sharing.”
Conversely, non-functional requirements define the environment surrounding the solution. So, a non-functional requirement maybe “my final product must accommodate mobile, tablet, and desktop web browser layouts.”
Understanding both sets of requirements will help your development team generate ideas that legitimately fit your initial need.
With your requirements clearly defined, you’re ready to brainstorm concepts for your solution. Be sure to think through your ideas from start to finish from a process standpoint.
At this stage of the process, you should begin to loop in representatives from any parties involved in the project. This may include your UI/UX team, backend development team, project management team, quality assurance team, and other stakeholders. By touching base early, you’ll be less likely to overlook potential opportunities or challenges embedded within your concepts.
Create Criteria For Your Ideas
Once you have app concepts together and have sufficiently thought them through, you’ll need to build a system by which to evaluate them.
All ideas you’ve generated should meet your previously defined business requirements to some degree, so the criteria for your ideas will have to come from different areas.
Two criteria that can apply to virtually any project are cost and hours needed. These can vary greatly depending on the complexity of your project.
In fact, the median cost range of an app development project in 2015 was between $37,913–$171,450. Similarly, hours requirements for projects can total to anywhere between weeks and years.
Outside of these criteria, availability of resources should also be considered. Hiring a subcontractor or new member of your team to work in an unfamiliar programming environment can be a grueling process and will certainly add time to your project timeline.
If too much scaling up or outsourcing of labor is required to pursue a given concept, that concept may not be worth pursuing.
By testing your app ideas against a multifaceted set of criteria, you’ll be sure to move forward with the best possible concept.
Conduct A SWOT Analysis
Before fully committing to an idea, it can be helpful to test it against a standard framework such as a SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. General descriptions of each area can be seen below.
Source: Corporate Finance Institute
Putting your idea up against the SWOT analysis framework will require you to list out characteristics of the idea that meet each of the four categories.
In doing so, not only will you subject your idea to another level of scrutiny outside of your previous evaluation criteria, but you will also potentially unearth characteristics about the idea that you may have missed in the concept generation stage.
Conducting a SWOT analysis before moving forward with your desired idea is a great way to implement an additional screener and ensure you’ve considered all aspects of the concept.
Collect Consumer Feedback
No matter how good you and your team think your app idea is, it needs to successfully connect with your target audience to truly be successful. As such, inviting consumers into the idea screening process can help you pursue the ideal version of your solution.
In today’s data-driven world, it can be tempting to judge ideas solely based on quantitative characteristics such as the cost and hours statistics discussed earlier. However, qualitative data such as consumer feedback can offer insights that statistics may not.
Assembling a focus group may make you aware of features that should be added to your requirements list, shifting your app concept entirely. Alternatively, the feedback could also lead you to emphasize overlooked features within your concept.
While taking the time to collect consumer feedback prior to development may extend your project timeline, having input from your target market during the planning phase will help you make decisions that could be crucial to the success of your end product.
Conduct Idea Screening for a Well-Vetted Product
A well-developed app development product requires a strong idea screening and development process.
You can discover existing problems in your space and pinpoint solutions by following these steps will point your product development in the right direction.