Showing posts from March, 2019

What is customer development?

Customer development is the process of discovering problems experienced by potential customers and solving them. If this process is implemented correctly, products will create value for customers due to the exhaustive research and testing and go on to be successful.
Brilliant entrepreneurs don't really start out with concrete goals, but they constantly assess how to get their vision into peoples hands and reacting creatively. It's the age where advanced technology is "easily" accessible to most organizations, only the ones that learn to quickly adapt to change survive. Doesn't matter if it's a startup or a well established enterprise.
Products should not get developed or launched until they're assured to have a customer base ready and waiting. The entrepreneur's role is not to lead customers to the problem. The less leading while hearing your problem getting mentioned, the more validation you get.
The customer development model has 4 parts:
Customer d…

Product manager responsibilities

There are multiple responsibilities to a product manager. I'm going to go through some of them because the ideal product manager is a T shaped individual, with deep knowledge in one field and multiple experiences in other fields. An ideal product manager should have experienced every role in the PDLC (Product development life cycle).
Strategy and vision
A first key responsibility is about strategy. Strategy needs to be clearly articulated to the product team so they understand the intent behind the new product or iteration. The "why" needs to be supported with data and results from the customer development phase.
The strategy must also make mid or long term sense to the business goals of the company.
To be more specific, the product manager needs to make sure stakeholders, the product team, sales and marketing understands what is going to be built, what the customer value is, what pain is it solving and who the product is for.
After the "what" is articul…

What is product management?

Product management is the process where a product owner/manager translates customer pains into solution requirements while making sure the solution is profitable to their business. The product manager needs to bring clarity to their team.

So I started arguing that product management is a process. While the product manager has multiple jobs to do (will detail on this later) product management is the process where there is a clear communication path from the validated customer pain to each granular task that goes into the backlog and eventually gets shipped back to the customer. If we live in an alternate universe, things stop here. But usually customers come with feedback and lots of it.

The product management process The ideal process is when features or product ideas come form a validated market need (there are other cases, but I won't cover them in this post).
A validated market need is when a customer segment has an important problem and "hacked" a solution together t…

What is product-market fit?

There are many definitions, but you can basically "feel" product-market fit when the market pulls product out of the startup (as defined by Marc Andreessen in the only thing that matters). Customers are banging on your door to get the product and this is your first API performance/load test - usage is growing as fast as you can add more servers.

Your product does not have to be great. it has to barely work and solve the market problem. The market does not care about how good the team is either, as long as it can produce a satisfactory product.
There is only one way to strive for this holy grail that is called product-market fit. Doing customer development. I always imagine the market as one circle, and the product as another. Finding product-market fit is a process in which you either move the product to overlap the market or vice-versa. You may pivot (change product or market) until you have fit. 
You can always feel when this isn't happening: usage isn't growing, p…

A product manager has to bring clarity to their team

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, argues that clarity is a trait he's looking for in new hires. I'm not taking things out of context, because he also said that he looks for energy in new hires, but that's harder to define. You can take a look at this 2-minute video interview:

Returning to the product manager, I think clarity is something vague at this point and needs to be split. Whenever you have a new product manager or owner, he needs to bring four major critical contributions to their team. The product manager needs to have deep knowledge:

in the customer segmentsin the dataof your business and its stakeholdersof the market and industry Customer segments
Clarity in the customer segments is not just having complete profiles but having the ability to empathize with these customers. Every decision that goes into the product must bring value to the customer - this is not just a fancy sentence - anything that goes into the sprint from the backlog has to actually be someth…

What is customer discovery? (short version)

This is the first step in the customer development life-cycle.
You need to find who the customers for your product are and whether the problem you believe you are solving is really important to them. Leaving guesswork behind, you should get out of the building to learn what the high-value customer pains are, how your product solves these pains and who specifically is your customer - has the power to make or influence the buying decision - and user - who actually will end up using the product on a repeated basis.

Keep in mind, that this step is not about collecting feature lists from prospective customers, and neither tunning a lot of focus groups. If you're a startup, the founders define the first product. The job of the customer discovery team is to see whether there are customers and a market for that vision.

In this particular step of the process, you should be in the field, listening and discoveringhow your customers work and what their key problems are.

As action points: you…

What you should know before your team starts building a new product

There are some questions you and your team should answer before starting out to build a product:

Is there a group of customers who would buy this product?Is this a significant pain point for them, or a minor one?Are people really excited about an idea like this or is the response pretty meh?How big is this group of customers potentially?Is there a change or a tweak or a full scale revision to this idea that would radically increase the number of customers?What price might customers be willing to pay?What solutions are customers currently using to solve this problem? Is this solution pretty good or pretty bad? How receptive are people to the idea of a better solution?How much are people currently paying for this alternative solution?How would you reach these customers? Is there a place where they get together? One or more websites they all read? Conventions they all attend?Would these people tell their friends about your idea, or not? (this is a measure of word-of-mouth resonance)