Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Product Management: think about your user

Each time I listen to users, there is one thing that I get reminded of.  Users are not interested in your product because of the latest features.  Users are interested in solving their problem.  Product is a tool that should help user solve their problem.

Build a tool made for user problem
This sounds obvious.  But when you have your heads down in trenches it is difficult to realize that your product is not at the center of universe.  Users don't buy product for simple upgrade path or great sales team.  They buy to get things done.

This means two things for product managers:

1. Figure out whose problem you are solving.

Depending on perspective a problem can look very different.  For example, think of expense reporting system.  For employees, they want easy way to create and submit new report.  For managers, they need a quick way to review key information and approve.  For accounting team, they look for ways to integrate with existing accounting software and ensure there is no missing data or error from employee and manager.

Spell out whose problem that you are solving.  Solving it for one user, but not the others will lead to incomplete solution, and force users to workaround the product deficiency.

2. Find out everything about the problem that user needs to solve.

Often product manager's understanding of problem is incomplete.  That's okay.  User problem evolves even for users themselves.  Research and find out all you can about the problem user has today.  More you know, better you'll be prepared to come up with a tool that works for them.

Users are looking for a tool that they can understand and use.  Build a product that is made for the problem that user needs to solve.

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