So you’ve been doing product management for quite a while, considering a career shift, or just found out that there’s actually a name for your role in your startup where job scopes are often blurry. And naturally, you are looking for a means to be methodical in what you do so you can effectively monitor your progress, identify things that don’t work, and repeat successes. Or maybe product management just feels overwhelming at times and you like to put a structure in the analysis work and your outputs. We could all use a bit of confident boost, right?
PMs can be real overthinkers. Of course it’s our job to think! But we all know how paralysing and unproductive it can be. I used to have a thinking buddy and part of our relationship is telling the other if they are going a little too far on a subject. The disruption allows us to refocus and actually get things done. Thankfully, while product management is a pretty young profession, there are already popular frameworks and models that a PM can use to make the analysis work structured, faster, and less daunting. Here are some personal favourites.
Check out the links for a deep-dive on each framework/model.
Whether you are working on your own product idea or co-developing it with a client, it is imperative that you understand the playing field. But what questions should you ask in these first few sessions? You can wing it right? You’re agile after all; you can figure things out along the way! I’m afraid not. Being agile is not an excuse to not do your homework. It’s good that agile development allows you to develop and release a product fast for validation. But it’s better and certainly more economical to validate the idea before you even start development. And knowing the environment where the product will operate allows you to do that.
5C is a marketing framework that simplifies the process of understanding the product environment by looking at 5 key factors namely Company, Customer, Collaborators, Competitors, and Climate. Using this framework makes it easy to build the narrative of why the company exists and its current offerings, who its customers are, which other companies/partners allow it to achieve its goals, its direct and indirect competitors, and the general state and direction of the industry it belongs to.
Startup Metric for Pirates
What does success look like? It’s a question that pops up in every manager’s head even in their sleep. When you are in a leadership role, your destination should be clear to you or God knows where you are leading all these people. PMs may not have direct reports but we are navigators nonetheless. We should know what success looks like and how to measure it.
Dave McClure’s Startup Metric for Pirates is a simple metrics model that captures the customer’s life cycle.
You can visualise the customer funnel just by reading through it. You may have to define the customer action associated in each stage but following this structure makes things a lot easier to measure, and detecting leaks a piece of cake.
Noriaki Kano Model
How does your product compare with its competitors? Of course you have your elevator pitch ready for a question like this. But back in the “lab” you need more detail and clarity. What features make the users stay? Or even better, what features would make a user leave a competitor’s product for your product? What’s your edge? Where should you focus your efforts?
The Noriaki Kano Model groups the features into three simple categories.
Basic Features – These are non-negotiables and address the basic use case(s). Have you ever encountered a messaging app that can do image, video, audio, and document upload but cannot send a text message? No? I thought so too.
Performance Features – These are features that outperform similar features in competitor products. A dating app that has 10 filters you can play with to find a match may be good, but a similar app that has that and can recommended matches based on your profile is probably better.
Excitement Features – These are features that customers do not expect from the product but can be a great source of delight. Yes, not having these features won’t bring your net promoter score (NPS) down but they can almost certainly bring it up. They show how innovative you are and how much you know your customers.
Finding a way to keep customers engaged is often the first critical item on your list once you release your product to market. The environment is no longer controlled and anything can happen. But figuring out what works need not be pure trial and error. Yes, even in an unpredictable environment. And while attention-catching features and content can drive usage, you’d probably want your customers to include using your product in their habits.
A good way of planning for this is through Nir Eyal’s Hook Canvas. The canvas, which has four elements, presents the loop for habit-forming products.
Trigger – Triggers can be external or internal. These are things that prompt customers to use your product. This can be as straightforward as notifications or as subtle as feelings like boredom.
Action – This pertains to the expected behaviour from the user for them to get some form of reward or sometimes, more appropriately, relief.
Reward – This is what the user gets which has to be fulfilling and and would make the user want more.
Investment – This is what the user gives you (often information) that will then allow your product to develop more engaging triggers, easier actions, and more appealing rewards, priming the user for another journey through the loop.
Over time the number of frameworks and models will grow. You may even come up with something of your own. Until then, we can rely on these to be more effective in managing products. The important thing about defining our processes is that it allows us to continuously improve. How else can we do better today if we do not remember how we did it yesterday? -mB
Photo by William Iven on Unsplash