Any time you have a new product idea everything is an unknown.
- Who is your target customer?
- Why will they like your product idea?
- What will the product do?
- Will the market buy the product?
- What will the product be competing against?
- How much will it cost the business to make and offer the product?
- How will the business make money and will it be enough to make a profit?
There can be hundreds more.
Some of these questions we may think we know the answers to, others you may have no clue about. It is possible and quite common to become overwhelmed by all the things that you don’t know. Fear of the unknown can cause an inertia that prevents action.
As early as possible we need to start trying to convert unknowns to assumptions and assumptions to reliable data points and facts to reduce the risk of product failure and to help develop confidence the idea. Continue reading...
Our mates at iSelect are looking for a Product Manager. Take a look at the job description.
This role primarily focuses on the continued improvement of the iSelect online consumer experience, identifying areas of opportunity and performance improvement to ensure an engaging, effective and optimised user experience.
You will work closely with stakeholders across the iSelect business to facilitate ongoing growth in Health Insurance, and hyper-growth in its newer business units including Energy, Personal Finance and Broadband.
HOW YOU DO IT
Success is based on:
• Creating a plan for the development of the product in conjunction with business sponsors
• Working with business sponsors to develop requirement briefs and with business analysts, web developers and software developers to deliver those requirements.
• Analysing, assessing and interpreting market information from a wide variety of sources, and making recommendations that contribute to the future direction of this particular business unit.
• Tracking performance across key consumer and business metrics
• Maintaining effective relationships with external partners and suppliers, and internal groups
• Working to agreed revenue targets and continuously make improvement to maximise revenue opportunities
WHAT YOU ARE and WHAT YOU HAVE
• Strong consumer/user experience background in online environments
• 3+ years online Product Management experience
• A natural born communicator with water-tight judgement and an engaging creative streak
• Very strong relationship management and influencing skills
• An enquiring mind and a keen interest in all areas of external stakeholder engagement
HOW YOU FIT
We are a fast paced and energetic business which is characterised by an innovative, growth orientated culture. We have high levels of empowerment and accountability which are underpinned by a pragmatic, down to earth approach.
We are progressive in our ideals and have a strong motto of “nothing is impossible”. Understanding this context is critical as is an approach characterised by innovation and curiosity.
A Product Manager who is passionate about actually making a difference to the lives of Australian consumers and who wants to make a valuable and lasting contribution to a company at the forefront of its industry, will have huge success in this role.
High energy levels and a love of having fun are also important to working in this great business.
If this sounds like you please apply now by sending your CV to email@example.com.
Exciting times for this organisation as they build a whole new service offering, which will include mobile responsive site, games, mobile apps and many online service related products for the health and well being sector.
Based in Sydney Inner West, the Product Director is a newly created role reporting to the CEO and will manage a team that’s responsible for product design, development and implementation, working very closely with the Service, Research and Marketing Teams as well as external stakeholders.
We’re on the search for a Digital Product Specialist, a Creative Technologist; strategic and creative thinker who has experience making technology investment decisions, has managed and motivated a team of developers and product people across full product lifecycle from concept to execution. We would expect the candidate to have experience in an innovative software product organisation or have a history working with design and development to produce a great user experience. Must haves are working in an Agile development environment, mobile-first design and A/B testing. .Net and Sitecore experience will be highly regarded.
Great company with a caring culture – please get in touch with Sally Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org
The topic of where User Experience (UX) belongs in an organisation’s structure is one that sparks many different opinions—much like that of Product Management.
I recently asked Matthew Magain from UX Mastery the question: “Is UX a part of Product Management?” His cheeky response was “Is Product Management a part of UX ?” I guess that’s a great question—is it?
Matt explained that the answer to the question really depends on the type of company. “In design-led companies, UX designers will have a seat in the board room; in more technology-centric companies, UX will be seen as subordinate to Product Management.”
UX is a Part of Product Management
My opinion is that, in most cases, UX should be considered very much part of the Product Management family. Product Management is a broad professional domain with a spectrum of activities that range from marketing to engineering. UX has a narrower but important focus and fits nearly within that spectrum.
Whilst UX makes a significant contribution to the product’s overall success, it is not the only factor. In many instances, the core product attributes have little impact (unless its not functioning) on the user experience. There are two main parties that a product serves; the customer and the business. In my experience, UX typically looks after the customer, whilst Product Management looks after both the customer and the business. Matt disagreed and explained “if a UX designer is ignoring business goals she is not doing her job. We stress this point in our writing and make a big deal of this in our training.”
Matt made a great point. If we want our businesses to thrive we should ALL be focused on the business goals.
Product Management Has Broader Accountability
Product Management not only has accountability for the product experience, of which UX is a component, but it also has to juggle the business needs and capabilities. There may be customer problems that the business may not want to solve (called strategy). Not all customer problems are created equal. Some problems are severe and prevent a large number of customers from achieving their goals. However, there are some problems that are trivial and only affect a small proportion of customers. As an independent entity, the business can choose to solve either one of those problems. Or, it can solve neither of those problems because solving them may not deliver a business benefit that is sufficiently attractive for the business to pursue. It seems counter intuitive but solving some customer problems may not be a good business decision. Unlike UX, it’s more likely that the Product Manager will work closely with various stakeholders to make the decision to solve the customer problem within a timeframe or delay solving the problem indefinitely
Ultimately, though Product Management is the custodian of the product’s value in the market and that means the product has to be priced accordingly, accessible to the target market, supported operationally and uphold all the promises it makes.
UX Closer to the Customer
When I grilled Matt further, he made the excellent point that “UX designers, by definition, act as stronger champions for user goals,” given that’s their primary purpose in an organisation. “The nature of UX work means we probably end up feeling closer to the user and developing genuine empathy.”
In reality, Product Management is often spread too thinly across many different activities, putting out many fires. We’re called upon to uncover why sales are poor, to ‘quickly’ respond to competitor challenges, to work closely with our engineers to resolve technical faults … the list goes on.
Yet as Product Managers, we know that the only way to develop long-term business success is by spending time with customers and solving lucrative customer problems.
Many Benefits of Having UX as a Part of Product Management
If UX isn’t a part of the Product Management team in your organisation, it should be. The relationship between the two disciplines is important for the success of the product.
There will never be an opportunity in a company, big or small, for Product Management to be solely focused on the customer. UX facilitates the transfer of rich customer insights into Product Management. Vice versa, Product Management can offer business information that may help UX design better customer experiences, which in turn makes for a better product.
And that’s better for your customers and your business.
‘The Mom Test‘. Its a book by Rob Fitzpatrick. I like it.
It’s very simple to read but more importantly, it teaches Product Managers how to speak to customers and find out if what they intend to develop is a good idea. Lots of examples of good and bad interviews to takeaway.
More often than not, we tell Product Managers to get out of the office and speak to customers. From what we’ve seen, many are nervous and have difficulty asking the right questions to get the results they’re after.
And rightly so… Both parties (customer & Product Manager) are slightly anxious. Both parties want to please each other. Both parties also want to appear knowledgeable. In many interview situations, customers tend to validate the idea as ‘great’ whilst the Product Manager may stop probing for fear of appearing ignorant or annoying. The results are not usable at best or false at worst.
But customer interviews are worth it if done correctly. It reduces the risk of going to market with the wrong product, service or feature.
To do it better, firstly figure out what need’s to be tested. Is it a new brand product or service idea? Is it a feature? Is it a price point? Is it the brand? This will lead you to the right research approach.
If you want to test a price point, I think there are other more effective ways to test this. No need for interviews in this situation. It’s very difficult to test price effectively during an interview situation. If it’s a brand new product or service or feature, interviews are warranted.
When conducting customer interviews, Fiztpatrick talks about the concept of ‘zooming in’. He writes that it’s important to determine when to focus on problems. It can neither be too early or too late in the conversation. If we know the problem exists in the market there is not need to re-establish if it exists. During the interview, we can therefore zoom in on the problem and explore it in detail. If we’re uncertain if the target market has a problem that the idea intends to solve, then it’s imperative that we zoom out to establish the situation.
For me the key takeaway is this… “Customers own the problem. You own the solution”. Don’t ask customers to help you develop the product or service. Instead ask them about ‘their life”. Probe about their goals, specific instances where they’ve achieved or not achieved their goals. Talk about their problems – broadly or specifically. Ask them what solutions they’ve used to solve their problems.
That is inherently more useful than asking “Do you think this product is a good idea?” or “Would you pay XX for this product?” Seriously, what can customers say…..
And finally as Rob Fiztpatrick advises … “Talk less and listen more.”