A Brief Guide For Developing Successful Features In Your Product
Most of the articles or podcasts that talk about Product Management, compare this role to someone like a Superhero. The truth is that it is not far from it. A PM is more than a specific role but a set of tasks within business, strategy, engineering, UX & UI design, data analysis and much more. It requires a holistic mindset and the capability to communicate and delegate the precise amount of work to cross-functional teams.
Some say that PMs should spend 80% of their time working with the different roles of team. The rest 20% should be for the preparation of documents or mockups that will allow the PM to convince the company that its vision is the one that should be followed. The PM must sell its team tangible but convenient ideas that will help the company move forward within its objectives.
How to make the correct decision
Before thinking in building a product or releasing a new feature, a PM must take in mind three key elements in order to go in the right direction and by failing doing this, the risk of releasing not enough value for the target audience can be significantly high. These elements are: Business Model, Feasibility and Customers.
Business Model: Is this a product or feature aligned to the company’s vision and revenue model? Is this a scalable solution that can be optimized in the long term helping the product to perform better in acquisition, retention and monetization?
Feasibility: Can this product or feature be built and operate at the first place? Is the technology required too far from what the company has already? Is there any synergy between technologies?
Customers: Does the customers or users need this? Is there any solid data either quantitative or qualitative that supports this? Are the user willing to pay and/or use this new development?
Is not about the What but the Why
Whatever the decision a PM makes it must not be a random one. In a nutshell, the decisions making process should be data-driven, be user-centric, aligned to company’s vision and possess great UX & UI. The best way is to have a methodology to solve this problems instead of rushing in like a rocket.
Imagine you are the PM of a B2B SaaS solution for task management solution and your product has a dashboard displaying different tasks. You are responsible to improve the performance of the product by leading a cross-functional team. There are a couple of steps you might want to follow in order to increase the chances of success.
Six Steps For Successful Developing
Which are the customer needs?
We think we know what the customers need, but users are constantly changing. Use your data. Either if it comes from user-centric tools such as Mixpanel or from direct feedback. Be creative in finding the information you want -or maybe you do not know what exactly are you looking for so challenge yourself and navigate your data.
Cool ways to collect data:
- Observation: Cohort analysis and user flow analysis.
- Survey: User survey and user interview.
- Experiment: AB Testing, usability testing.
Now imagine that for this step we received three insights from the UX research team.
- Users close 55% more tasks when the individual tasks are pre-filled by the creators.
- Tasks that are active three more days after expiration date are deleted the 77% of the time.
- A user daily use is condensed in the 1 hour per day but they do not have enough time to execute all the tasks.
Which problem would you prioritize?
Once we get different insights from our data then we need to choose one battle. It does not mean we cannot solve them all but we are always limited to resources. In this case, we assume that the mission of the company is something like “transforming the world for us”. Therefore, the company’s value proposition might be focused in automating tasks in order to make our lives easier.
When comparing the three insights collected before, we conclude that:
- The first insight requires the effort of the creator so either the first or second user will have to fill the information anyway.
- The second insight is interesting because there might be a reason of Why the assigned users are not executing tasks, but because the tasks still require users doing their work, then pushing tons of notifications before expiration might be too much right?
- The last insight is my favorite because users are not closing tasks during the whole day but only in specific hours. Users decide to sit down (probably they already are) and get things done.
“Ok, we are going to make something -who knows what- that help users to complete their set of tasks in the minimum time possible.” — PM
Which feature would solve this problem?
For this stage we are going to use the Design Thinking so as to create something that works for the users.
Empathize: We talk to users and not only one time, but many. We need to understand their behavior regarding this specific problem to be solved. Even them will not be able to explain it. Ask many questions. “Why….?” 5x. For example, one of the answers we might receive is “I hate when I am trying to concentrate in solving all my tasks but once I start doing one then I get distracted and lose the track of where I was”.
Define: On the first step we received a lot of information and we mentioned one example. Let take that one example as the most critical problem since is the most aligned to the business objective. Now we have to simplify it and define a specific goal. “We want the user to be efficient when solving a big number of tasks in the less amount of time by avoiding distraction and guiding the execution”. That combines quite well with the objectives of the company.
Ideate: “We can create a bot that guides the user on each task”, “We can teach how to be more efficient doing this”, etc.. Yes, there will be many ideas to solve this but in this case, we need the user to take its time to solve each task. We want them to solve them, not to stop using our platform. In order to keep them on track. We are going to create a friendly, accesible and dynamic checklist, which will work like a bubble on top of the screen.
We know that tasks might come with prioritization but sometimes there are dependencies or even the timing is not the right so let us make the user follow his preferred way on his own convenience. This feature will offer a drag n’ drop lists for tasks that can be reordered temporarily without affecting the prioritization, will have a check box in the side to make them ready and adding notes and will have an option to extend the information to see more details without leaving the screen.
Prototype: My favorite part! Let us prototype something that can be used by your target audience. Start doing mock ups, simple-black-and-white wireframes that can communicate the value. Then just let your best designers to build something beautiful from that. Definitely accept new ideas. The idea of your proposing design helps you move faster and communicate better value.
Test: Test your solution with a small group, either with your most active users or the new ones. You want to see how does this feature impacts the behavior of your users. You do not want to make a complete release and then realized that the tasks completion ratio decreased by 30%. That would be tragic.
Which are the key results for success?
The metrics to measure the success must be linked to the goals of course. You need simple numeric metrics. Just be sure that the new results is not related to a new marketing campaign or a specific time in the month that can change the behavior of the users. If you keep everything the same and prove there are not internal or external changes then you can tie up the success to the feature.
If you cannot find an idea of metrics, just google and make a list of the best ideas, assume you have each, do backward engineering and see if it makes sense. Someone already did it. Do not invent the wheel on this one, keep it simple.
How to measure success?
In order to know if the increment is successful you have to have a clear metric. In this case you will not see a difference in the hours of execution of tasks but you would expect that the tasks closed per session will increase significantly. Right? This checklist was built so users can be more productive when getting hands-on in their work. The metric to use can be something like: Average tasks completed per user per session.
Which are the trade offs? Are you cannibalising another feature? It depends on the objectives of this. If the user will spend more working in this feature and less in the old dashboard of tasks, then of course you will affect the usability of that view, yet both features have the same goal for the users: help them getting things done asap!
How to iterate?
This step assumes you released with your users, at least with your control group and now everything is almost the same as before. But hopefully your data is not. Is better. Now what? See if there are still remaining details from this problem that can still be solved as always they will make an impact. If you feature already did a great impact, do not expect to increase it investing in details. Prioritize other problems.
Communication and commitment as ingredients
Imagine you are trying to execute different personal and individual tasks in a specific deadline. You would need to deal with a lots of ideas, distractions, habits, natural reactions, etc. Working by yourself can be very challenging but at least “you know” yourself so you can predict your behavior -pros and cons. Now, imagine working in a team of many versions of yourself. Yes, replicas. Well you might think “Oh, because I am aware of the pros and cons of each person I should not have any problem.” Well, in reality we do not know ourselves very well. We do not have a manual of our behavior and chemistry that goes inside of us. What would definitely happen is that each member of this team will start conflicting with your bad habits. A real mess. Now, instead of other versions of yourself, consider completely different people. That sounds like a bigger mess, however, it is not.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the evolution of humans came from the capability of organizing in a common objective by using mainly the cooperation. Cooperation can do amazing things by taking advantage of the strengths of each individual and managing the weaknesses. To make this work though, it is required two things: Communication and Commitment. If you have those two, then at least you can assure you have a solid and functional team, regardless of the outcome.
by Nicolás Godoy