People may tell you that developing a custom B2B app in this day and age is easy, but that’s not always true. Often, your unique business processes, market requirements or user expectations add layers of complexity to a software project. This is why you need to take the right steps to prepare.
To help you, we’ve created a B2B software development checklist, organized into project phases to help you maintain momentum and complete crucial tasks in the right order. We’re using our own experience gathered over a decade of providing custom software development services across various industries, and applying the most useful principles of Agile development.
Let’s get started.
Alternatively, download the PDF version of the checklist and get started on organizing your software development process right away.
Why development checklists are useful
Process checklist can be a great supporting tool for project management. In fact, some project management tools have checklists built in - that’s how popular they are. They are a way to make sure that nothing will get lost in a complicated pipeline, regardless of how many teams are involved. Trivial, easily forgettable tasks can be especially difficult to keep track of, even if completing them at the right time is key to the project’s success.
The specific benefits of checklists include:
- Saved time through prevention of errors and risk mitigation,
- Unleashed potential - teams that don’t need to constantly worry over the minute details of their work can be more creative and efficient,
- Focus directed at the right task at the right time,
- A disciplined, thorough approach to software development.
These are only some of the positives you’re bound to see once you implement a proper software development checklist for your B2B project.
A quick guide to using checklists effectively
You might think that checklists are self-explanatory and hardly need additional guidelines. In general, you’re correct. What’s not so straightforward is adapting a checklist to your specific situation. After all, you don’t want to blindly follow someone else’s process. To use a ready made template effectively, you need the right approach.
Make sure to break big tasks into smaller, easily trackable chunks. If you’re working on a complex new feature, making it one of the items on the checklist can be a mistake. If it’ll take a lot of time to complete it, you won’t feel a sense of progress, and the team might be confused about what exactly they need to do. Try to keep your checklist detailed to avoid this.
A proper timeline
Software development takes time. Rushing ahead without making sure the team is ready can lead to costly mistakes. On the other hand, spending too much time on a task is a sure way to fall into the trap of trying to write perfect code, which can cause project delays. You want to find balance between these two extremes, and factor it into your project planning.
During a software development project, your main resource are the people on your time - but you also need to factor in the tools they use. Programming languages, libraries and frameworks, design software, assets, repositories, hosting infrastructure, etc. If you have tasks on your checklist that have dependencies (e.g. they require a license), make sure to note that down, too.
Don’t forget about this crucial aspect of developing a software product. It might be worth it to add a documentation subtast to any notable change to the project, but you’ll have to use your best judgement about what should be documented when.
The B2B product development checklist
1. Establish user personas
Before you begin concepting or designing your product, you need to know who it’s for. This is a research stage that should end with several clear, concise user/buyer personas that will guide you throughout the rest of the development process.
- What problem does your product solve?
- Who benefits from the solution?
- Which exact pains and needs does your product address?
- Is there a large enough market for your product?
- Create several user persona profiles
- Use market research
- Interview potential users
- Consider creating mockups for testing
- Determine what communication channels you can use to reach them
2. Build your unique selling proposition
In this phase, you need to look closely at your competition, figure out how you’re going to differentiate your product from what they offer, and decide how you’re going to communicate this uniqueness to your audience.
- Analyse your competition
- What do customers value the most about the competition’s products?
- How do the balance pricing with quality?
- Which segments of the market do they target?
- How is your product unique?
- What specific problem does it solve?
- Use numbers and statistics when possible
3. Choose your business model
Once you know who will buy your product and why, you need to decide how they’ll be able to do it. This phase is mainly about two things: meeting users’ needs and ensuring that your budget won’t run out during development or after launch.
- What sales channels will you use?
- Who can you partner with?
- What business model will you use?
- One-time license purchase
- Will you offer a free trial or a demo version?
4. Product launch strategy
In this phase, you will create a timeline for your development process and outline the marketing and PR steps that need to be taken throughout it. It’s a mistake to think about the launch only after the product is finished - you can gain a lot more traction and a wider reach if you start early and use resources (such as designs, demos, landing pages, etc.) as they are created.
- Estimate a timeline for your project
- Consider major holidays, other products launching, etc.
- Establish who will be responsible for which marketing efforts during development
- Build a promotion strategy based on your user personas and unique selling proposition
- Decide on the channels of communication you’ll use throughout development
- Create a content marketing strategy
- Build your social media presence
- Remember about interacting with your audience
- Establish metrics and goals to track your efforts and make adjustments if you need to
- Use this time to educate your audience and make them excited about your product
- Consider users’ values and belief, and how your product addresses them
5. Find the right development team
This phase is flexible in that you can begin working on it at any time, but it’s usually the most efficient to assemble your team once you know what your budget and overall strategy are. However, if you need help during any of the phases before this one, remember that many software houses offer consulting services and can in fact be the perfect partner for establishing your product’s entire development strategy. At iRonin.IT, for example, we offer workshops and share our know-how gathered over years of working on commercial products.
- Decide on what’s best for your business:
- Hiring an internal team
- Extending an internal team
- Find the right experts
- Remember that, thanks to remote work, you don’t need to limit yourself to the local talent pool
- Make sure new team members’ vision and values align with those of the rest of the company
- Test technical skills
- Check soft skills, paying special attention to communication via the channels you use
- Pick the right technology partner
- Look for references and reviews (e.g. on Clutch)
- Browse through portfolios
- Look for social media presence and company blogs
- Consider talking directly to previous clients
- Take care of the formalities as soon as possible
- Organize an efficient onboarding process
- Grant necessary access
- Share your knowledge base
- Conduct introductions to start building good relations between team members
- Consider running a workshop to kick off the project
6. Maintain communication during development
You might think that, with the right team and a good plan, you can sit back and wait for your product to get done. This is a mistake. Unexpected issues, changes on the market or new ideas can become challenges to overcome or great opportunities for your business - but you won’t be able to react appropriately if you miss them.
- Procure necessary licenses
- Set up a development environment
- Set up a project repository (e.g. GitHub)
- Conduct thorough testing
- Unit testing
- Integration testing
- Performance testing
- Automated testing
- Apply security measures
- Security testing
7. Prepare for product launch
Regardless of your marketing efforts up until now, you still need a good launch communication strategy to make sure that the news will reach as many of your target users as possible.
- Plan how you will communicate with your audience during launch
- Create a step-by-step launch timeline
- Establish a presence in external media
- Industry events
- Prepare press release materials for various stages of development
8. User testing
Have you heard of the soft launch? It’s a technique that allows you to generate real users’ feedback without taking a huge risk. Choose a group of users and give them access to your product, monitor what happens (paying special attention to issues and bugs), then ask for feedback. This approach will let you iron out the kinks and deliver a truly exceptional experience to the bulk of your audience.
- Prepare a list of users who will test your product
- Decide how you will contact them and what they’ll get out of helping you
- Prepare a list of questions to ask while gathering feedback
9. Official launch
It’s time to release your product fully. Your main concerns during this time should be generating as much buzz and traffic as possible, and making sure that no mistakes will be made during this crucial period for your product.
- Consider scheduling your launch for a trade show or another event (even one hosted by you)
- Prepare attractive messages for your social media profiles, landing pages, etc.
- If you have a user support team, make sure they are ready
- You can prepare common scenarios and FAQ
- Inform your team that they need to be highly available during launch
- If your product is complex, follow up with information about specific features and help users get better at using your product
10. Post-launch maintenance
Even products that are done upon launch (as opposed to products that start as MVPs and need to be scaled up over time) require attention. A new bug may come up, users are likely to have opinions on the product’s features, and the market is always shifting. You need to keep your eyes peeled, track your key metrics, and be ready to react when you need to.
- Maintain a team that will be able to provide basic maintenance
- Security patches
- New versions or upgrades for the frameworks, libraries, etc. you used
- Customer support
Now that you know what the common steps of developing a B2B software product should be, let us know if we can help you take them.
At iRonin.IT, we’ve been developing commercial products for a decade. We have experience with managing large volumes of users or data, using complex technological solutions and building smooth, seamless experiences.
Let’s chat to find out how we can help your business.
Business Development Manager
Started my career in my early 20' from launching my own startup and learning, sometimes in the hard way, how demanding and rewording working in sales really is. I've helped to grow the first Polish crowdfunding site and coauthored the "e-business bible 2". Privately I'm a motorbike, gym, boxing, and podcasts enthusiast.