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Product Management

Product Management

Product Managers: Use Design Thinking to Beat the ‘Feature Factory’ by @NikkiElizDemere

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

What is a Feature Factory? It’s a phrase coined by product management consultant John Cutler in response to a software developer friend’s complaint that he was “just sitting in the factory, cranking out features and sending them down the line.”

His barometer for whether you’re working in a “Feature Factory” hinges on whether the impact of your work is measured (or even discussed), and iterated on accordingly. Basically, if all you’re doing is spinning out features, and taking far too little time to consider whether they’re solving core problems for your audience and measure their success or failure, you might be a ‘factory’ worker.

Hopefully you aren’t – and hopefully your competitors are, because the “Factory” system is easy to beat when you take a Design Thinking approach. Remember: Even though they produce a lot of features, Feature Factories aren’t serving their customers well.

This oversight can give you the competitive edge.

“Your product is designed to solve a problem. If you’re adding a feature that doesn’t contribute to the solution, you may be wasting your time and worsening your product in the process.” – Kissmetrics, Why More Features Doesn’t Mean More Success

How to Beat the Feature Factory With Design Thinking

Though methods of putting Design Thinking into practice differ – it’s a creative process, after all – a few central tenets remain true. It’s all about empathy, diversity, and cross-functional collaboration. Fundamentally, it’s a human-centered approach to design, as opposed to a technological/scientific/feature-forward approach.

That means, the ideation process begins by thinking of the humans you’re working to serve.

And that requires a great deal of empathy.

Read more onDigital Surgeons


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Customer Success, Product Management

How to Get Product Managers Excited to Work with Customer Success by @NikkiElizDemere

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

A Customer Success team is only as good as its information. After all, if they waited until the customers told them what’s wrong — they’d be Customer Service. In order to take a proactive role in helping customers achieve their desired outcomes, Customer Success has to know:

  • Their customers — what they want, what they need, and how to bridge the gap between what your product does and this desired outcome.
  • The onboarding process — where new customers tend to get stuck, where they drop out, and what can help them get over those hurdles instead of churning.
  • Usage — how well is the product working for the customers? Where they stop using it. What they’re hoping to find — and don’t.
  • Growth opportunities — when the customer will benefit from using more of the product, or an additional feature. Basically, when it would serve their interests to upgrade.

Customer Success is Who covers the What, Where, How and When — but my question is:

Why aren’t other departments clamoring at their door for these insights too?

These are insights that can benefit the entire company, reducing churn, raising revenue, and giving the business every piece of information it needs to become an integral part of its customers’ lives.

But, most of us come from a tradition of strict departments. You do your thing; I’ll do mine. Which, along with a combination of territorialism and downright inefficiency, leads to data silos.

These are MY numbers and nobody else can have’m!

And I’m sure some companies have good reasons for keeping everything compartmentalized — but when you have a Customer Success department which, naturally and necessarily, has its finger in every pie, it’s absurd not to use them as the resource they are.

But I’m preaching to the choir.

Most of you reading this are Customer Success. So you don’t need me to tell you how important your insights are or how much good they could do.

You need a way to get your insights heard.

Because you can’t give your customers what they need by yourself.

You need Product Dev.

This is about how to form that partnership in such a way that Product Managers become more interested in what’s going on with the customer and want to get involved — instead of staying one step removed.

Read More on Success Hacker


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Customer Success, Product Management, SaaS

Product Managers: Why You Should Include Customer Success Milestones In Your User Flows ft. @Wootric & @16v

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

As a Product Manager, you develop user flows to chart how customers move from signup to successfully using your SaaS product. Your colleagues in Customer Success are doing the same thing — mapping a flow of customer milestones to success.

But “success” can mean different things to PMs and CSMs. And, while both teams employ user flows (or customer journeys), what they put on them are very different, reflecting their very different goals.

You are responsible for making the product functionally work, with enough awesome UX so it’s relatively intuitive for the customer to use. For your team, “success” often means that the product works. It does what it says it will do, and does it well.

Customer Success is responsible for helping customers use the product to achieve their desired outcome. Most of the time, that desired outcome isn’t in the product – it’s outside of it. For example, if I purchase a budgeting app, my desired outcome is to save enough money to sun myself on a Caribbean beach, with a good-looking server to bring me fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. The Customer Success manager’s job is to get me there.

You might say it’s a conflict between focusing on the world inside the product and the wide, wide world outside of it.

And that conflict can bring about a deep divide between Product and Customer Success.

Yet, we’re all working towards the same goal: Creating a product people love, need and want more of.

What if you were to bring both user flows together, so the functionality inside the product meets the desired outcomes outside of the product?

Read More on Wootric


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Product Management

A Product Manager Communication Survival Guide (or how to tame information overload) ft. @johncutlefish

a-product-manager

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

It’s all you, baby.

Or, more accurately, it’s all on you.

The burden of communicating among teams, in between departments, and being the go-to get-it-done-guy/gal for CEOs and managers – it all tends to fall heavily on the Product Manager’s shoulders.

Product Managers are the linchpins of their organizations. The fillers of “the white space” – the processes and tasks that need to happen, but for which no one is specifically responsible.

Among their many, and varying responsibilities, Product Managers often orchestrate the exchange of ideas, conduct collaborative brainstorming sessions, and ensure that vital data reaches its destination, broken down into what we call Little Data, the understandable, actionable molecules. And they do it over and over and over again, rephrasing the same information fifty different ways, for fifty different people, all using it in different ways.

As PM, you’re the one building a shared understanding of what’s going on.

data-drive-kpi-tracking-product-manager

Roman Pichler’s diagram scratches the surface of the many responsibilities often assigned to PMs, but as John Cutler, prolific product management writer and consultant says:

“In a lot of organizations, you’re swimming in this diagram. You’re all over the place. Especially in a smaller organization, this diagram might be your brain.

The scary thing is that, depending on the company, you could add facilitating team problem solving, team decision-making, meeting with lead engineers and everyone else – you’re on the phone constantly, even with customers. Product is the connective glue. They literally fill the cracks of everything.

Read More on Notion


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Product Management

“Data’s great, but I’m going with my gut”: How to Overcome Fear of Data ft. @UseNotion

howtoovercome-fear

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Let’s say your goal is to build team camaraderie, making them happier, more cohesive and all around better. You’ve tried putting beer in the office. You’ve tried banning beer from the office. You’ve tried a BYOB consumption structure. But you’re still not sure whether any of these measures have actually affected the productivity of your team. It’s enough to drive a manager to drink, I tell ya.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way you could know for sure which of these management processes was most effective? And no – this method doesn’t only apply to Madmen-meets-Craft-Brew day drinking.

Here’s the thing: There is a way to know for sure how effective your latest management policy is. And it’s not hard (we’ll tell you one really simple way to do it at the end). But first you have to overcome some obstacles. After all, all businesses can collect data – but far too many simply aren’t using a data driven framework to make management decisions.

Read More on Notion


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Product Management

5 Steps for Product Managers to Ditch the Jargon and Communicate Better ft. @UseNotion

5stepsforproductmanagers

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“After conducting a heuristic review of this user story, we found several UX issues with the UI.”

You know what that means. I know what that means, mostly. But if anyone outside of our industry were to hear this sentence, they’d be very confused. Product managers and product owners have their own patois, dialect, lingo, parlance. But when it comes to communicating technical issues to non-technical users and colleagues, you’ve got to switch to a Lingua Franca that everyone understands.

Communication is messy, complicated, and hard, but it’s never optional. And jargon has its place. When you’re with your team speaking the same language, finding short-hand terms for complex issues, jargon is not only inevitable, it’s a real time saver. But it’s also often a wall that stands between you and getting your point across with outsiders.

And a failure to communicate effectively can have dire consequences.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Product Management

The Critical Steps to Aligning Product Managers and Customer Success ft. @UseNotion

thecriticalsteps

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Once it looks like product market “fit” has been reached, Product Managers may be quick to celebrate. Building and iterating a product until it hits this level of success takes considerable effort. Inevitably, Customer Success will provide feedback about gaps in functionality, issues with usability and obstacles in guaranteeing a stellar customer experience. While valuable information, this input can feel rather unwelcome.

Customer Success teams aren’t trying to rain on the parade, but it can sure seem that way. And this tense relationship between Product Managers and Customer Success can foster an environment of unproductive resentment that drags both teams down.

It’s a natural human reaction. The customer feedback reported by Customer Success can sound less like constructive criticism, and more like straight-up fault finding. Any suggestions offered may get automatically labeled impractical by frustrated Product Managers. Nobody wants someone standing behind them, continuously pointing out flaws in their work, especially when they’re already working hard to create a good product.

But Customer Success sees it differently – they just want to make sure the product delivers its promises to customers! And from their positions on the front lines of the customer experience, they feel like their feedback is invaluable (and they’re right). Imagine their frustration at getting labeled as “complainers” for sharing real customer feedback.

Ouch.

Both teams are doing their best to create products people will love – and both are having trouble effectively communicating with each other.

Read More on Notion


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Product Management

Better Product Strategy Meetings in 5 Steps ft. @ProductPlan

product

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Ah, a free exchange of ideas. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Until you’ve got five stakeholders sitting in an enclosed space spitting out “Must Haves” like watermelon seeds in a county fair contest. Ideas are great, but a strategy everyone can agree on is better. How can you get from one extreme to the other?

Well, it’s a lot like this, but with fewer horses.

Successful product strategy meetings don’t happen by accident — they require planning and expert execution. So here’s a 5-step formula to help make your meetings run more smoothly and effectively, and round up those maverick cats.

Read More on ProductPlan


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Product Management

Make better products with your team’s input: using NPS-style internal polls ft. @UseNotion

make-better-products

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

You already know the value of net promoter scores (NPS) and feedback forms from customers. Their opinions drive the direction of your company, determine your product, and validate your product experiments (sometimes signaling the need for a change in direction).

And you undoubtedly also understand the vital importance of building a culture of innovation so that new ideas and solutions can come from anyone on the team. You’ve created this environment to capture the benefits reaped from so carefully selecting the brilliant people who make up your workforce.

Then, why don’t you tap into the resource of validating product experiments and company direction with internal NPS and team polls?

Your team knows more about the product than anyone else. They know more about the challenges, concerns, potential issues, and greatest achievements of the product and process – because they’re on the front lines. Not tapping into their insights leaves you vulnerable to mistakes and missed opportunities.

Which is crazy – since tapping into those insights is so easy.

Let’s look at some ways you can leverage those collective insights with team polls to make your company stronger, and help ensure it’s headed in the best of all possible directions. Regularly tracking your team’s sentiments over time can also give context to your business metrics and help you understand the success or obstacles of your company.

Read More on Notion


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Product Management

Product Managers: Don’t just Build Products – Build Bridges ft. @MindTheProduct

product-managers-build-bridges

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

As product manager, your vision drives the heart of your company. You might be responsible for the product development roadmap, strategy and features, or even marketing, and competitive market analysis. Because you wear so many hats, you’re the best person in your B2B company to form bridges between departments usually kept separate, including: product development, sales, marketing, customer success and customer service.

Why would you want to take on more when you are already responsible for so much?

It might seem like a fool’s errand – it isn’t. When you bring these departments together by finding where your goals intersect, you’ll be able to make each department’s job a little easier and a lot more effective in driving retention and revenue. And, you’ll become one of the most valuable, and valued, people in your company. Here’s how.

Read More on Mind The Product


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