The foundation of Product success

The foundation of Product success

Recently I was looking into some job descriptions in LinkedIn and found out that not all the businesses understand product team’s role well. and sometimes I’m not sure if they are capable to make a product at all – I have seen some are looking for Product Manager who will work on value proposition, which is obviously one of the key parts of any Product Manager role.
Some others just copy paste buzz words related to product manager role, like a good communicator, backlog owner…some other even ask for C++ programming skills and some parts of Scrum master role.

I would like to write a few words about the most important things which describe your product team as strong, capable, empowered.

Direct access to Customers and Users, and data of how the product is used

Not in every product Customers and Users have the same roles, there might be a difference between Customers and End Users, each of them might have their own needs and pains which product team needs to capture. Both of those groups can share important details about existing issues with your product, but also share some ideas and inspirations related future features or simplification of existing ones. In some cases, product teams might spend days and weeks finding them out on their own. Some alternative vision - Don't asks customers about what they want.

For me It seems a standard having and maintaining a direct connection with both but seems not all the businesses realise how important is to have ability to communicate with actual product users to maximise value and possibly to solve some usability issues. Here is an interesting article about customers directly participating in product development.

The data of how the product is used, any type of feedback given might make lots of difference. I give you an example - A bank leadership decided to collect feedback on customer experience using their ATMs. They assigned people from a call center and spend time on a special script for cold calling to their customers finding out how they like it and what is their opinion. Let us think for a moment - how much details will you remind about an ATM function during a call? Probably they only capture – “Yep, it was good, no issue” or “It was a disaster, the ATM wasn’t working”.

Would it make more sense to assign a team to talk with Customers near the ATMs and see how they actually use it? I think yes. In a similar way, your product team must have direct access to the Customers and Users to have comprehensive details on what can be improved and what people would like to have in future.

Direct access to Business people from all over the company

Every product team operates within some constrains coming from other departments, like budget and paying invoices for digital tools and from your partners are from Finance, Contracts from Legal, product quality from Manufacturing, Sales volumes from Business development and so on. Product team must have a direct access to the leaders of those teams and establish healthy relationships to capture possible issues, concerns, ideas. It is obvious having a catch up and alignment calls to sync up. Strong relationships with stakeholders help to identify points of growth and capture tiny details about what might be improved. For instance, sales leaders can share that recently it became difficult to make up sales, because not all the recent features are made in the way the customers want, but as it is not super critical, they never contacted support about it.

Direct access to engineering team

In my work, I have several catch ups with engineering team daily, understanding work they do, asking them about issues and how I can help solving them. I know that without engineering success, my product wouldn’t have a high quality and important features our customers’ desire. The engineers must not be protected from talking to product team. Daily interactions about the progress, issues and needs will help us to succeed. Hey, Agile is about people working together on daily basis, not being sheltered one from another and not about moving tickets from one side of Kan ban board to another.

In a hunt for Innovation

I think most of the people on the planet are looking for innovation  Even the most robust industries and manufacturers stressed by having a little innovation and searching for inspiration to make new innovative things happen.

I trust the innovation is not possible without having healthy environment and culture where people encourage relationships with Product team – mainly with product manager and product designers. If someone prevents this communication happening, it is a good point to rise to senior leadership team and solve as soon as possible.