Innovation often starts with early-stage software or an idea requiring software development. But meeting the challenges of software commercialisation is not just about the code. What are the first important steps in the journey to software commercialisation?
Often, the first step is ‘proof of concept’ to secure an initial investment – a demonstration that the software or idea can be successfully developed into a robust and flexible app or product that could operate in a commercial environment. Understanding user needs, workflow and the potential market is essential at this early stage. Step outside your ideas to review what you have and what changes and refinements can be made to make your product more appealing. For digital health software aimed at the NHS, look at the N I C E guidelines. Being compliant is a real asset.
To get under way you will need experienced developers but you will also need to think about business planning and product design to further sell your idea and create a first-class user experience. Then there are all those legal areas, like protecting your IP, use of licensed software and data security – including applications where data needs to be handled in compliance with strict standards or where the software will be submitted for approval by the MHRA or the FDA.
You’ll need to think ahead. What happens to performance as user numbers scale up? Software commercialisation is a journey not a destination. Code will be revised over many development iterations during the product’s initial evolution and throughout its lifetime. Good design and well-structured code are essential for maintainability, and will also underpin a foundation of future-proofing for new technologies and platforms.
Thoroughly test your product from unit to system to ensure the best launch. Put good infrastructure and support in place so that if things go wrong you can handle problems efficiently and effectively. While problems aren’t good news, smooth handling will mitigate impacts on users. Responsiveness in such situations can add to your company and product’s reputation.
OCC’s Innovation Delivery teams have provided software and business skills, experience and advice to entrepreneurs and researchers for over 20 years.