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Tips & Tricks for Building Your Experimentation Program

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Market competition is intensifying, and customer expectations continue to rise. Staying in business requires addressing them both. Fortunately, by adding experimentation to your development process, and discovering how it complements initiatives like Agile, your team can learn to innovate rapidly and deliver a better customer experience.

The Role of Experimentation

The days of completing development before releasing software are gone. This is the age of iterative development. Teams like yours are constantly refining interfaces, adding features, and testing performance. 94% of them embrace Agile. Others use similar initiatives. Many are also migrating to microservices architectures, enabling teams to be more responsive with frequent updates.

The current product development feedback loop involves releasing products, getting feedback, then making improvements. Yet, to remain competitive, you must now do it faster, and better, than anyone else. That’s where experimentation driven-product development comes in.

Experimentation eliminates uncertainty and guesswork. It allows your team to simultaneously test new software versions with a segment of your user base and compare it to the original experience. That way, you know if your update is having a positive or negative impact.

Settling Debates with Experimentation

Launching new products based on intuition can be a risky proposition. Sometimes the most common sense solution isn’t the best one. Even well-researched products can suffer due to the gap between what customers think they want and what their behaviors reveal they actually want.

Some of the most revolutionary new products and features were originally controversial or counterintuitive.  Experimentation transforms the need for debate into an opportunity for discovery. With it, teams can now evaluate ideas and make decisions based on real, usable data.

When Optimizely founder Dan Siroker was a new project manager at Google, a mentor of his offered this advice on

a controversial product launch: “Don’t frame it as a product launch. Just frame it as an experiment.” Once he did that, he experienced far less resistance to his idea.

Making Experimentation a Core Part of Your Process

Remaining competitive also requires making experimentation a core part of your release process and following three key best practices.

First, choose the right metrics. Zero in on your North Star Metric, the metric that best captures the value you deliver to customers.

Second, remember that your feature roadmap is your testing roadmap. So your sprint process should consider the priority, timing, risks, and impacts of every experiment you conduct.

Finally, test small, and test often. Running smaller, incremental experiments can help diversify risk and yield impressive gains.

Getting Started with Product Experimentation

For more insights into how to integrate experimentation into your product development process, download our whitepaper: Getting Started With Product Experimentation: How Product Development Teams Reduce Guesswork and Innovate Faster.

 

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