Sprint to the starting line with your early tech

Companies in growth mode have knowledge gapsand FoundersWire expert Chris Swenor, CEO of East Coast Product, wants to help fill them. He’ll be taking your tech-related questions and answering them here in this column every week. Submit yours today, RIGHT HERE, with the subject line: Tech & Tell.


 Q: What’s the best way to scope a big project to minimize missed information? How do you know you haven’t missed some crucial element that you’ll regret, and end up having to go back and fix later?

A: Just knowing what you want to build is not nearly enough to start a project, and it’s definitely not the same as knowing what you need to build. Invest some time in design thinking. You wouldn’t knit a sweater without talking to the end-user to get their size and style first, and product development is no different. Design thinking is the process of building out an early prototype and testing it with potential users to figure out what they actually need. If you build something without adequate user research, you may miss out on a feature or user flow that is vital to your success. Try to get in front of users as much and as early as possible. It’s much easier and cost-effective to change and experiment with a cheap prototype versus undoing five months of development.

You can begin to implement design thinking early by running a design sprint. The Google Ventures Design Sprint method compresses a number of key user experience design exercises into an ultra-productive five days. You get to the root of your end-users’ needs and start to test assumptions fast. This design sprint expedites learning and creates a clearer path to development. If you’re new to design sprints, I recommend checking out Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. Also, there are companies, like East Coast Product among others, that can help facilitate a Design Sprint with your team. However you decide to approach it, just make sure you do it early on because you can save a lot of valuable time and money.

Chris Swenor is CEO and co-founder of East Coast Product, a digital product agency that works to enhance existing teams with the app development cycle—everything from strategy to design, to user testing, to development.

 Chris offers CTO and CPO guidance to ECP’s clients and the greater Boston tech community. Previously, Chris was the director of New Product Development at zMags and the CTO at Vsnap, both of which had successful exits. Outside of East Coast Product, Chris volunteers as the technical advisor for Resilient Coders. Interested in discussing product and learning more about ECP? Connect with Chris at chris@ecp.io.