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Mind the HIPPO

James Evelegh's editorial from this week's edition of InPubWeekly.

By James Evelegh

Mind the HIPPO

Last Friday, we held our first roundtable event – ‘the technical challenges and opportunities facing publishers’ – in London, sponsored by PCS, moderated by Paul Hood, and attended by an outstanding group of senior tech execs at magazine media companies. It was fantastic, if I say so myself.

We will be publishing a full review of the proceedings in the next issue of InPublishing magazine, but for now, a little taster:

One of the discussion areas was new product development and the following eight top tips for NPD success bubbled to the surface: 1. Write the press release first. Get the stakeholders to write a press release announcing the launch of the new product at the start of the process. This is likely to be more instructive than a formal spec. 2. Ring fence the development team. Resources permitting, shut them away and let them get on with it. 3. Choose a project owner, who shouldn’t be the editor. He/she is good at many things, but managing a development team is unlikely to be one of them. 4. Beware the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion). Their opinion is certainly worth hearing, but should not be the yardstick. 5. Concentrate your development resources wisely. Do you want to spend 12 months developing an e-commerce front end, when you can use Shopify? 6. Embrace the concept of minimum viable product, but recognise that two people might have very different definitions of what constitutes ‘minimum’. Tech leaders need to be assertive to avoid projects being derailed. 7. Ban print-outs in meetings. Everything should be shown on screen. 8. Don’t get sentimental. Products are not babies; they can be killed.

(Thank you to John Barnes, Robin Barnes, Giles Bentley, Peter Dakin, Matt Hobley, Jeremy Macdonald, Adrian Poole, Richard Sacré and Simon Weare for sharing their expertise.)

PS. If you would like to sponsor our next roundtable, then Martin Maynard would love to hear from you...