The Differential Product Process

Written by Drew Barontini on February 20, 2023

Since our adoption of Shape Up in 2019, our team has leaned into continuous improvement of our product process. While we don't follow everything in Shape Up, the core tenants serve as our framework and inspiration (learn more about Shape Up at Differential).

Differential’s product process helps our designers, developers, and strategists produce their best work – and helps us build some pretty great digital products. Here’s a breakdown of that process.


Our product process: define, de-risk, and deliver

Frame the problem (define): We can’t shape a solution until we fully understand the problem. Framing is about clarifying the problem, narrowing it down, and quantifying the opportunity inherent to solving the problem so it can be appropriately prioritized.

Shape the solution (de-risk): Once framing is complete, we can then focus on shaping, which will allow us to create a rough, bounded, and solved solution to the framed problem. The output of the shaping work is a bounded solution in the form of a pitch document that key stakeholders can bet on.

Build and iterate (deliver): After the shaping work — and when a pitch is bet on — it’s time for the development team to take over the responsibility of delivering the solution within the defined appetite. With the solution built and released, we have unlocked value to measure and determine if our solution solves the core problem identified during framing.

The philosophy behind our product process

We believe that a systematic, collaborative, and iterative approach is key to creating successful digital products. By codifying our process, we can ensure consistency and quality in our product development.

Collaboration is essential for nurturing value. By involving all stakeholders throughout the product development process, we ensure that our products are tailored to meet the needs of the people who will be using them. This approach allows us to create products that are truly user-centered, consistently delivering value to our partners.