Why a Software Product Needs a Stable Foundation and How You Build it

Before programming can begin, companies must establish the technical foundation of their software product. Replacing this foundation is time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, it must be well thought out.

Whether it’s an IoT solution, e-learning platform or AI system: Companies who want to develop a digital product often have the same challenges in mind, that software development brings with it: first and foremost, the search for qualified developers. However, digital product development contains additional challenges.

What’s the difference? Software is simply a technical building block that fulfills a given purpose. This can be, for example, a technical interface that connects two systems. For software, there are usually clear technical requirements that developers simply have to implement. This is often not the case with software products.

What Makes a Software Product Special?

    1. A software product is a digital solution that creates added value for a specific target group. It must be so great that users are willing to pay for the digital product and use it in the long term. The integration into the user’s digital ecosystem plays an important role here.
    2. A digital product is never complete. There are many reasons for this: User expectations and technical possibilities are constantly evolving. Networking advances and requires additional interfaces.
    3. Technically speaking, a software product is based on a tech stack, that is, a set of several technologies used in its development.
The #SocialApp on the tablet of our customer Lylu is a software product that has been specially developed for seniors and enables them to participate in the Internet

Why It Is Important to Build a Software Product on a Solid Foundation

The three preceding characteristics give a hint: The development of a digital product involves more than just programming. For the solution to be sustainably successful, it needs a stable foundation. At first glance, this may seem to contradict the volatility and agility of digital ecosystems. The opposite is true: This environment makes it all the more important to plan the technical foundations with foresight. Only in this way will the software product still have value for its users several years from now.

»The development of a software product is like building a house: In the beginning, a foundation is laid. The architecture builds on this and becomes increasingly complex. Replacing the foundation later is time-consuming and expensive. That means, that at the beginning I have to think very carefully about what foundation I need.«

Lionel Born, CEO of L-One Systems

What constitutes such a sustainable foundation and how can it be constructed? Four aspects are crucial here: the vision, the digital ecosystem of the users, the scalability and the project team.

1. Develop a Clear Vision

A software product must be tailored precisely to the needs of its future users and provide them with real added value. Companies should first develop a clear, well thought-out vision for their product. It is not only crucial to succeed with the intended target group. The vision also serves as the basis for making the right technical decisions before moving on to programming. In this step, companies should answer questions such as:

    • How do I want to change the world with my product?
    • Who belongs to my target group?
    • How does my target audience think and act?
    • What added value do I want to offer these users and how?
    • What problem does my product solve?

These questions help to make the vision as clear as possible. Initial assumptions can be validated through surveys or interviews with potential users.

»It makes a difference whether I want to digitize all processes in a department or save 25 percent working time on administrative activities. The focus for product development is different.«

Lionel Born

However, it is not enough to develop a vision. The project team must develop a common understanding of it and commit to it. This ensures that during the course of the project, the team only develops features that foster the vision. This way, companies create a digital product that consistently delivers real value to its users.

Lionel Born, der CEO von L-One Systems, im Gespräch mit einem Kunden
In our Product Discovery Workshop, the L-One team puts the vision of the software product to the test together with customers

2. Take Into Account the Digital Ecosystem of the Users

The next step is to determine what the technical foundation of the digital product should look like. Already in this phase, companies benefit from the previously developed product vision. It focuses the decision-making process on maximizing added value for the users.

»It is very important to keep in mind: What digital environment are my users operating in? No digital product is used 'stand alone' today.«

Lionel Born

A special focus should be on integrating the digital product as best as possible into the digital ecosystem of the users. What does that mean? Project teams should find out which existing software systems are indispensable for the future users of the product. The better the digital product interacts with these systems, the higher its utility. The focus should be on questions such as:

    • On which platform do we make the software available?
    • Do we develop a web app or a native app, i.e., an application tailored to the operating system of the respective end device (iOS, Android)?
    • Should the software product run on a local server or in the cloud?
    • Which software systems does the product need to be connected to and which interfaces are required for this?

3. Create Foundations That Are Readily Scalable

Structure and framework should be set up in such a way that the digital product can be scaled easily and quickly at a later date. This means that both the number of users and the number of features can be easily expanded – while maintaining the same product quality. Project teams should consider the following aspects:

    • When selecting features, companies should keep in mind that they must maintain and further develop their quality and functionality over the long term.
    • Data storage in particular influences the subsequent scalability of the software product. It should therefore be chosen with care.
    • High-quality, clean code facilitates changes and upgrades in the course of product development. The code should be well readable and cleanly documented. Guidelines within the development team are recommended.
    • Automated tests should also be set up in parallel with product development. They save a lot of time later during upgrades.
L-One Systems blinkit-mockup-laptop-tablet-phone-portrait-v21301_blog_digitale_Produktentwicklung
The #eLearning app Blink.it has already been on the market for six years. The startup is constantly developing the software product together with L-One

4. Bringing the Right Know-How Into the Team

If you want to realize a software product, you need developers. This is not fundamentally wrong. As stated above: Before the code is written, the technical foundation must be defined.

This task requires comprehensive expertise: know-how about the diverse digital ecosystems, the ability to analyze the target group as well as its digital environment and to draw the right conclusions for the technical foundation. It is therefore worthwhile for companies to work with a partner who conducts the entire development of the digital product – from the technical foundation to the product launch.

Programming software products involves a number of challenges. Unlike software, digital products consist of multiple software systems. Each product has its own “tech stack”. This is the term used to describe the set of technologies used to develop a particular digital product. Different expertise is required for each technology. This makes it even more difficult for companies to assemble a team of developers for their project.

Proven Methods for Digital Product Development

L-One specializes in supporting companies with the challenges of digital product development. In our offshore team, we combine know-how on all common tech stacks.

Our work starts before programming: As a development partner, we see it as our duty to jointly scrutinize our customers’ product ideas. In our Product Discovery Workshop, we develop the technical foundation together with our customers after a critical review of the digital product.

How does a Product Discovery work?
Learn more here

How do you make your digital product a success in four steps?
Click here to find out