5 Principles for successful digital product delivery: Balancing quality, speed and value

Paul Kiernan, Zone’s head of engineering, explores the principles required to balance quality, speed and value in your digital product and service delivery in our new blog series…

At Zone, we have a long-standing pedigree in building experiences that deliver measurable value to our clients. As with many products, time to market is vital. So moving quickly and creating high-quality products or services at speed can often make or break the experience.

This series is for people who develop digital products or services, either in house or agency side, and have been frustrated by missed deadlines, poor output quality or the overall experience not delivering the value you hoped for.

The information discussed isn’t new or ground-breaking; however, it is generally talked about separately and in silo. These articles will provide a holistic and balanced view of the key focus areas to help teams to move quickly while still delivering value.

It’s an iterative process to get all these practices and processes in place, so start small, experiment, persist with what works and take the learnings from what fails.

I hope you find the information helpful!

Principles for creating balance

In balancing quality, speed and value, we notice recurring themes in our approach which have been distilled into five core principles:

These principles focus on doing the right thing for the customer and putting customer experience at the core of the delivery — both of which are underlying themes essential to delivering maximum value for the investment. Proven methodologies such as design-thinking and lean-agile are becoming standard in product/service development. The principles discussed complement these methodologies and enhance them.

While the principles aren’t linear, all are important. Some may not be executed by the agency when engaging with a client — it generally depends at what stage you engage with a client on their path to delivering an experience. Sometimes we engage with our clients later on in their journeys, and we need to take a step back to complete the steps above and understand the bigger picture.

A great example of getting a product to market fast is the iPhone. To release early, Apple concentrated its efforts on the core parts of the iPhone experience. It didn’t include some mobile phone features deemed “standard” at the time (e.g. sending MMS text messages — https://www.t3.com/features/remember-this-heres-everything-that-the-first-iphone-couldnt-do). The parts of the experience that Apple shipped were high-quality, and the public weren’t bothered about the lack of other features. The iPhone was a success, and the rest is history!

Great, so all we need to do is make quality experiences and do it quickly, easy right?

Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Balancing quality, speed, and value can be a tricky task. Is it possible to do all three? I believe it is, but it does require skill, knowledge and a culture of transparent collaboration between stakeholders and a multi-disciplinary team.

Many factors come into play to deliver the balance we are looking for, too many to discuss in one post. Getting the balance wrong can lead to an experience that falls short of the vision or doesn’t deliver to its full potential, leading to poor stakeholder satisfaction and ultimately a reduced return on investment for the business and the team.

Finally, If you are looking for a friendly partner to help with your product or services journey, please get in touch. We are a collection of experience-led practitioners and we’re at our happiest when we’re helping clients unpick their challenges, solving problems and ultimately delivering measurable value for businesses.

Take a look at some of our case studies that demonstrate successful execution of the principles discussed in this series of blogs…

Other blogs in the series:

Principle One: Look at the big picture, but don’t get lost in it

Principle Two: Create a true MVP (Part One)

Principle Two: Create a true MVP (Part Two)

Principle Three: Picking the right tools for the job

Principle Four: Continuously manage scope

Principle Five: Create a culture for speed

Notes: The information contained in this series is based on what I’ve learnt from the great people I worked with in my career and through the experiences I’ve had building products/services. Particular individuals I would like to call out are Will Dixon, Gautama Payment, Ciaran McGuiness, Zara Powell, Bobbie Hardwick, Bill Aldridge and all our amazing practitioners at Zone.

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