Product development is the intricate process where an ideation of a digital banking feature is slowly being fleshed out into a reality. From the first idea, to the feature design, the outline and delivery, it can be a transformative process for all those involved.
However, issues during the process can make the product development process of a digital offering a nightmare situation that seems to extend forever.
Budgeting is always a painful issue, no matter the person you ask in whatever field they work. This is especially true for product development which on its own is a costly process factoring in the manpower and technology needed. Those working in the digital product development process will probably tell you that they have a restrained budget, which ultimately ties their hands and leaves them little room to work with. And while they are correct, this is usually half the truth.
Astonishingly, what many people working at development don’t realize is that apart from limited budget they also suffer from poor fund management and distribution. More often than not, those in charge of allocating and handling budget needs are people who are not actively involved in the product development process. With limited view of what are the actual technological, market research, employee requirements for the process to be efficient it stands as no surprise that when the time comes to make budget decisions, these are misguided. This lack of proper communication through the exclusion of people actively involved in the development can lead to budget issues that spiral from the beginning to the end.
Misguided market research
It is undoubtedly always problematic when the product development of digital banking features begins with an overly exhaustive or miss-targeted market research. Banks today focus so heavily on replicating what their competitors offer, researching months and months to create a perfect version of their competitors' features to evidently suffer from analysis paralysis. They overlook a very important factor: customers themselves. Offerings are designed as a direct answer to their competitors. And not as an appealing value proposition to cater their segmented target audience needs, which would make the development process all the more focused and smooth.
Not knowing and taking into account what features and UX design customers are more responsive to, their pains and friction points can be a detriment in digital banking product development.
“Financial institutions that offer a frictionless, personalized user experience that helps consumers get the products, services, or answers they need in real time will develop more engaged and more loyal customers.”
Jim Marous, The Financial Brand, Banking Must Measure Customer Experience Across the Entire Journey
The result is hours spent designing and testing features that customers will have little use of and that they might have to scrap their product design and begin again.
Not to mention the repercussions of a lukewarm response to the end product by disinterested customers. Customers nowadays expect digital banking products to be absolutely tailored to their needs and won’t hesitate to look elsewhere for what works better for them.
Another common problem many product development teams face is the existing technology slowing down the process. With new advancements everyday in artificial intelligence, machine learning capabilities as well as in software connectivity, many teams face the issue of integrating these into their existing software.
However, an FCA research showed that 92% of UK financial services firms report to still rely on legacy technology, spending as much as 32% of their change budget for its upkeep. As more and more systems, third-party applications, inventory management databases are applied to the existing software, it becomes difficult to navigate. To say that a complex system of product development platform might lead to confusing results and miscommunication would be an understatement. The result is a rigid software system that creates more problems (costs, delays, low quality) rather than help solve the existing.
A long hard look into your software's capabilities and your product development team’s needs can go a long way in understanding whether your current software actually meets software needs or not. But instead of taking the understandably complicated but crucial step of changing software to one that can continue to serve your needs, the problem is agitated by trying to integrate another potential savior application. And the confusion continues.
Lack of internal organization
Lack of internal organization can be quite frustrating. People not working well together sits at the very core of product development. When there is no clear responsibilities alignment between members of the product development team, more often than not things are lost in translation. Who is in charge of this stage? Should I talk to the product manager about an issue in that path? To whom should I raise a problem with regulation compliance?
Not having a structured team collaboration of all people involved, as well as clearly specified duties and a hierarchy of responsibilities can make the product development process extremely tiring for everyone. Especially, today’s increased market demands presuppose building partnerships and outsourcing. This clearly necessitates a well-thought and crafted cross-team and -company system of collaboration. Or else chaos ensues.
Let us say this up front: regulations aren’t fun. They are numerous, complicated, always-changing and can make a relatively straightforward product development process a complicated one. What’s even more annoying is that most times product developers have little means to get updates on new regulations due to lack of appropriate research. They remain unaware of how one new regulation might influence their work until quite late into their development process. This ends up being an annoying obstacle for developers who have to re-evaluate their approach, their product design elements of the UX and at the worst of case scenario start their work on a project all over. What they desperately need is a research platform that will keep them updated on new banking and show them how they can swiftly achieve regulatory compliance.
Lack of a fully-skilled team
Not many companies have the resources and skill internally to conduct every aspect of development equally efficiently. Digital banking product development today requires a deep understanding of the market, continuous engagement with the updates in artificial intelligence, excellent handling of cloud-based technology handling and seamless implementation of machine learning. To all this, of course, should be added sufficient UX design skills and customer-focused data on what makes a User Journey successful and smooth.
This poses the critical issue of having expertly skilled people for each of these aspects of digital banking. And while having experts in some of them might seem enough, a lack of expertise in many of them can create an unending circle of mistakes and errors that significantly hinder product development.
The biggest problem people working at any stage of digital banking product development is time. You rush to speed up your development only to realize that your competitor has beat you to the market. Your go-to-market time is longer than expected and you end up losing the edge. That issue is placed at the end of our list as is the culmination of a combination of the problems mentioned above. During the product development process you might encounter issues like limited budget, lack of proper research that influences the viability of a feature, poor communication that add up time to the process. Increasing your time to market time can be very disastrous for your revenue goals. Classic McKinsey & Co study has found that six month time to market delay can result in 33% less profits over 5 years.
What everyone should keep in mind when trying to boost the product development is that there should always be appropriate time for each stage. Tests should be run, design flaw checked, customers’ feedback should be asked. Each stage should be appropriately attended and given the attention required or else more issues pile up slowing down the process, increasing time to market dramatically.
The product development process can be bogged down and made uncomfortable, confusing and tiring for everyone involved. It is important that we understand these issues in depth and search for the best solutions whether in form of a tool, of better team structure or more inclusion.