Building ForceRank.it: A Product Management Post Mortem / Natal

Posted by Jeff Dwyer

Jul 14, 2014 12:27:00 PM

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How We Birthed a Website

ForceRank is a prioritization and decision making tool for product managers. We've been live since January and have just tipped over into profitability. I'm using that to do a bit of a retrospective on the process so far. A guided tour of the genesis and early days of building ForceRank: The idea. The plan. The mis-steps. The horribly ugly mockups. The features we built and deleted before even launching :(

But first off let's clear up one thing. This is not a post-mortem, it's a post-natal! (It's weird that everyone declares their app "dead" before analyzing it right?) Things are improving every day and our new Trello integration is going to blow your socks off.

Outline of this Post Natal:

Building Products in 2014 

Overall I'm very happy with how the development process went. 2014 is indeed an amazing time to create products. Rails, Heroku & Zurb's Foundation are all so good it boggles the mind. Tracking our marketing efforts with HubSpot is light years ahead of anything else. To date we've spent ~140 hours of effort on building ForceRank, which includes blogging, marketing, product development, debugging, design. That's three and a half weeks of effort (spread out over 5 months) from zero to a product with paying customers. Amazing.

So what did we spend that time doing? Off the cuff I'd say that that broke down to:

  • 30% feature coding
  • 5% design
  • 20% styling
  • 20% blogging/marketing
  • 10% debugging
  • 10% scut work / annoying computer things
  • 5% user testing
In comparison when I started MyHippocampus in 2005 I think I spent:
  • 25% feature coding
  • 5% design
  • 10% styling
  • 0% blogging/marketing
  • 25% debugging (Fighting Hibernate took a year off my life)
  • 30% scut work (I can't tell you how much I fought with Tomcat)
  • 5% user testing

As you can imagine this has been far more pleasant and since I've actually had time to spend on getting the word out and polishing things this startup, with 140 hours is now substantially more successful than the startup I spent probably 3000 hours on in 2005. Yay Learning!


Tame Your Trello Backlog

Topics: Product Design

   

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ForceRank is a prioritization tool for product managers. It helps people identify priorities, make tradeoffs, compare results and finalize a plan.

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