3 Essential Tools To Streamline Your Product Development



Publish your brain and profit.

Let me explain..

In the last year and a half I’ve designed, managed and launched 3 marketing software products (Tabfu, Stakk and Viddify) that have made over $300,000 in sales and counting..

..and during the production process i’ve learnt a lot about organisation and productivity..

which I’m going to share so you can benefit from what i figured out works well and implement the processes into your projects..

As well as avoid my mistakes (more on that in a bit..)

Regardless of the Niche you’re in these tool will help you get results, faster.

You need to put together clear visual documents.

If you want results that are even slightly close to your imagination, and be able to deliver real value to your customers with your vision (whatever it may be..)

..you can’t just explain what you want to a development team and expect good results..

You need to properly document your idea and put together clear instructions of your vision.

Do this right and your project will come together on schedule and on budget.

Let me get to some examples..

These are the main tools i use to publish my brain so my ideas can be understood and created by others.

1. Evernote

Web-Evernote-Tutorial

I mainly use Evernote to create instructional documents for our programmers.

I create a series of annotated images and feature descriptions and functionality notes..

..that the programmer can use to start on the code based off my designs.

Then once we start getting iterations of the software, i’ll use Evernote to create reviews and let the programming team know what still needs work until we get it right.

Here’s a document i put together when my WordPress Pop Up Software ‘Stakk’ was in development.

This software went on to do over $100,000 in sales during it’s launch week back in February 2015.

Click Here To See The Example

The document shows the software user interface (designed in photoshop) with feature and functionality descriptions for the programmer to work from when coding.

The basic process works like this:

1. Screenshot the design mock up
I use the built in software to capture a screenshot of my software UI design, this then loads in my Evernote Notebook.

2. Write a feature list
Above my screenshot i'll write a list of the features that this section of the software achieves, so the programmer can understand the reason why it's there in the first place. never assume they understand, be clear and logical in your description.

3. Duplicate the screenshot image and annotate
I copy the screenshot so there's a clear image of the user interface and then on this duplicate i add my arrows and annotations using Evernote's built in overlay options.

4. Generate a share link
Once i've completed my functionality descriptions i can generate a share link and send this to my programmer so he can access the document and start work.

I also use Evernote for general note taking, documents to keep all our product info organised, ideas, code snippets and research.

It's free to use until you reach a certain amount of storage and then it's $5 USD a month, great value for what it delivers!


2. Wunderlist

wunderlist-productivity-tool

Wunderlist is a Free task management software that lets you create check lists in different categories and easily sync them across all your devices.

You can add due dates, share lists and comment, add notes and files for employees to work with and a bunch more..

..it also has an awesome browser and gmail plugin that lets you easily pin websites and important emails to your task list in 2 clicks.

So when you've got a million things going on and come across something important online, you can easily send it to Wunderlist to access later..

I use it to list tasks as they come up so i don't forgot anything and set them up in order of importance so i can prioritise easily and get things done everyday..

This app was key in organising my thoughts and keeping on tops of tasks that i had to do throughout the software development over the last year.

I usually pop this app open before signing off for the day and add tasks that aren't complete..

..so when i start again in the morning and i pick up directly where i left off without too much ummming and ahhrring..

..and the best part..

..hearing the little 'chime' when you tick off a completed task is super satisfying!

Here's a screenshot of what my task list looks like currently, this is just filtered to my important tasks, lots to get done

..but i have it clearly laid out for myself into bite sized pieces that can be done everyday.

wunderlist-productivity-development-applications

I recommend breaking your project down into tasks that can be completed in a few hours, so in any 1 day you can check off 3 tasks.

Do this and stick to it and you'll see your productivity skyrocket.


3. Trello

trello-project-management-application

Trello is a project management software that lets you track and manage tasks and overall production until completion.

..It essentially lets you see your complete project funnel at a glance.

It's totally Free as well - you only have to pay if you want custom background colours or images for your project interface (but no one needs that..)

Where I use wunderlist to manage my own thoughts and direct actionable tasks, Evernote to create details documents on functionality..

I use Trello to manage the bigger pieces of the production funnel and move things through to a complete state. So everyone can see where production is at easily..

I've used a handful of project management and this is by far the simplest and easiest to use..

It's premise is very simple, you create an item on the left, move it across the window to the right through various stages of work and employee assignment..

until it's travelled to the right and marked complete.

trello-software-example


So that's 3 essential tools in my arsenal of productive apps i use to get my ideas..

..coherently out of my brain, digitised and outsourced for profit.

If you're not already using software to help organise and streamline your projects you're mad..

..and you need to stop smoking inside, tell Don Draper he's a terrible human and catch up with the times!

..or if you're just getting started, use these tools to your benefit.

The learning curve is basically non-existent and you'll have many less grey hairs after your project is complete..

Now onto my mistakes..

..that cost myself and business partners a lot of money (in retrospect).

Things I've learnt the hard way..

1. Don't assume people have the same work ethic as you.

Just because you take pride in your work doesn't mean your employees do as well. Don't assume they are getting things done. Make sure you set clear deadlines and remind your programmers, designers, VAs that the deadline is approaching and get status reports as they progress.

2. Always double or triple check freelance's work

Make sure you check everything your employee submits as complete, being so busy It's very easy to trust the work is as described and not go over it with a fine tooth comb.

Don't do that.

Check the work thoroughly or have someone you trust check the work, if you don't (specially with software) this will cause major support issues down the road and can be potentially harming to your brand.

3. Stagger your project payments into milestones

When you hire someone, make it clear that work will be paid for as it is delivered and checked (use escrow so both you and the employee are protected).

Then break down your project into manageable milestones, and only after the work is delivered, checked and confirmed for that step release payment.

Be careful though if you are developing software, as half finished code is useless. So if you are doing milestones make sure the work paid for is re-useable (i.e. wireframes, UI assets) otherwise let hte freelancer know that payment in full will be made when the software is 100% complete and tested.

9 out of 10 times anyone who resists this setup and wants to be paid upfront is trying to scam you.

Making the above mistakes has cost me a bunch of money..

..mostly due to the fact that scheduling was put out of whack and deadlines were missed.

Missing deadlines in the fast paced world of internet marketing means you miss potential JV partner promotions..

..your launch can clash with other big launches..

Or worst of all someone can launch a similar product only weeks before you go live..

..taking major wind out of your launch sails (see what i did there.. Sorry i'm a Dad, can't resist a Dad joke opportunity!)

So what about you?..

Got any good apps you use to manage your projects?

Have any freelancer horror stories?

Let me know in the comments below..



NOTE: Want more quality templates, resources and in depth video training to help with your marketing? Check out our 'Sack The Job' membership program HERE and fast track your online marketing success story 🙂

 

 

About The Author

Sam Finlay

I am a full time online marketer, software creator and video specialist with extensive experience launching digital products into the marketplace. I have Bachelor and Master degrees in Design and Digital Media/Animation and create tools and training to make digital marketing easy.

2 Comments

  • Alessandro

    Reply Reply March 30, 2016

    Hello Sam, [this email is translated by Google] I do not understand English and do not speak, I have no practicality in Marketing and little in Computer Science, I purchased your program but do not know where to start, can you tell me exactly what I need do ? I have no site / blog, so I have to set everything to zero, I have little time for me because my backup job is the truck driver and then I have very little time to devote to this project that I want so much to carry on I want to stop doing Trucker , you can kindly tell me where to start? I thank you for your attention and your time, waiting for response sending best regards, Alessandro…….

    • Sam Finlay

      Reply Reply March 30, 2016

      Hi Alessandro,

      If you don’t speak English then the video training inside Sack The Job members area probably won;t be much use to you.

      I recommend you go to the ‘tactical pack’ tab and download the 30+ Facebook templates we have in there – these are professionally designed templates you can use to create Facebook Ad Graphics.

      Then go to Fiverr.com and set yourself up as a designer offering ‘High Converting Facebook Ad Graphics’ for $5 each. When you get clients use our templates to create the ads for them (you can use the templates in keynote or powerpoint you don’t need photoshop or other expensive design software)

      I know it’s a small start but it’s a start! It’s all about getting started and getting the ball rolling 🙂

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