When developing a new product there is no shortage of work to do. This work has to be organized, prioritized and sequenced. At a big picture level, priorities should be aligned with the hierarchy of needs depicted by the pyramid below.

Product Hierarchy of Needs

Product Hierarchy of Needs

The most fundamental needs, those lower in the pyramid, should be satisfied before moving up to the higher level. This works well with a natural business progression:

  1. First you need to get an initial set of customers
  2. Then you need to make sure that they are highly satisfied with your product
  3. Once you have proven that you can win and retain customers, you can accelerate business growth

At a more detail level, mapping of product needs to business goals is shown in the table below:

Goal Means Approach
Winning Business Features Design and develop product with differentiated features supporting well articulated business and user needs
Keeping Business Results
Implement measurement framework
Demonstrate measurable value
Implement reporting
Functional, usability and performance testing
Implement QA automation
Setup application monitoring
Configure systems for uptime (redundancy, failover)
Growing Business Scalability Conduct stress testing
Implement self-service support
Implement online training
Implement self-provisioning
Automate internal processes

Working for example on self-provisioning before proving value, or QA automation before making sure that the product has an appealing set of features would not be the best use of resources. Sequencing work based on the hierarchy of needs aligns product development with business evolution, minimizes investment required at any given stage and helps in achieving business success.

Note: If you are familiar with Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation you will notice that this article has been influenced by his Hierarchy of Needs. You can find an overview of Maslow’s theory here.