Feature Prioritization *New*


Back in 2011, I made this blog post on prioritization of product features, and the prioritization template looked like this.

Over the years, I have been updating the format and refining it to ensure it articulates the objective prioritization and shepherds the product towards product-market fit — the latest is here.

In general, features will have to be categorized into three backlogs. The backlogs have been named by lifting NBA terminology for self explanation.

  • Offensive Play — features that aid revenue generation and acquire new customers
  • Defensive Play — features that aid in delighting and retaining existing customers
  • Time out — features that aid cost cutting such as those that reduce product returns, reduce customer service costs, improve operational efficiency, tech deprioritizationbt, etc.

Product Managers will have to ensure appropriate ‘plays’ are adopted depending on business needs, including a mix of features from more than one backlog in a release, for creating customer value, generating competitive advantage, and delivering profitability.

Few takeaways:

  • Strike the right balance between offensive and defensive plays
  • Features that can be implemented in a shorter time are *not* always the ‘right thing’ to do
  • Always look at relative priority and the objective impact a feature will have on customer value, ROI, and overall purpose

Would love to hear what’s on your mind!

Is MVP the right approach for launching consumer products?


I’ve come across many people, particularly UX designers:-), growling when they hear the word ‘MVP’ (acronym for Minimum Viable Product) — it’s because some of their favorite features/designs get missed out.

Most people think MVP is just a bunch of features that are being planned for the first release of a product/solution or just another scoping exercise. Some of the traditional definitions too confirm that thinking.

  • MVP is a set of minimum features, a minimum feature set
  • MVP is a feature set that allows the solution to be deployed, and no more
  • MVP is a set of features that ‘can be’ delivered by the expected date
  • MVP is a set of top features that users asked
  • And so on…

On the contrary, I believe MVP needs to be conceived with a 360 degree perspective on how the initial offering will benefit customers and stakeholders. And of course, within budget and schedule constraints.

To summarize, an MVP needs to:

  • epitomize core value proposition with the right mix of features/experiences
  • justify ROI vs. risk
  • help determine user acceptability of the offering
  • help identify demand for specific new features
  • promise great new things ahead

MVP

Would love to hear other insights and feedback!

Everyone has an opinion!!


Everyone in an organization, especially in a consumer product development company, has an opinion on what new features should be implemented in the next update to the product. When given an opportunity people come up with all kinds of weird asks with the punch line ‘that’ll be cool‘.

Right to opinion3Okay, it’ll be cool to them and may appear great with its face-value, but may not be appropriate to the targeted market segment and may even go in the direction of derailing the product strategy. It is true that everyone has the right to provide feedback and have opinions but that does not mean every opinion will be correct and will add value to the product.

So who decides what matters the most — and how to justify the same. Winnowing out opinions from true ‘stories & facts’ and justifying the same with a great deal of detailed explanations and debates is an ongoing challenge product managers live with.

When everyone has an opinion and if Product Managers go towards the direction of ‘data’ and ‘market trends’ to look for usage patterns and market direction, where will innovative ideas come from? In my opinion, looking at data is more of a reactive approach, but what can companies do to be more proactive and innovative? How do organizations ‘innovate’; what should be the organizational culture to inculcate innovation?…

Would love to hear your experiences and thoughts.

Experience is king!!


After moving from B2B to B2C space, I’ve realized that ‘Customer Experience ‘ (aka Experience) is of tantamount significance in the consumer market. In the B2B market, solving customers’ problems was the key — experience was definitely not in the driver’s seat, at least in my experience.

cust_experience2Let’s take a look at what contributes to customer experience. With what I’ve learned so far, everything about a product can be considered to be having an experience ‘angle’ and contributes to the overall experience. Every customer touch-point with the product contributes to experience. It starts from:

  • How people get awareness about a product
  • What kind of a first-impression that gets set in people’s minds
  • How easy it is for people to learn more about the product
  • What do people perceive is the value of the product
  • What do people think about the price of the product
  • How easy it it to purchase the product
  • How easy it is to get access to product information
  • How easy it is for people to start setting up the product
  • How simple is the product design so users feel ‘self sufficient’ in using it
  • How easy it is (or who to contact) to find answers to questions about the product
  • How easy it is (or who to contact) to find solutions to problems
  • How easy it is to provide feedback about the product
  • How easily are people able to know when will be the next version of the product
  • How simple it is to get rid of the product:-)

To summarize, customer experience is all about the what’s, how’s, when’s, and the who’s of the product.

Would love to hear if you have anything more and specific from your experience!!

Differences between B2B and B2C Product Management


Here’s an article through which I wanted to share my thoughts on the differences between B2B and B2C businesses and products which I hope will be useful for product managers transitioning from one type of business to another. Please do share your feedback.

Target market size

  • The target market size for B2B products is very niche and may be broad in some cases depending on the product, but the market size for B2C products is normally large.

Business survival

  • B2B businesses can survive with a handful of customers, but millions of consumers are required for successful B2C businesses.

RFPs

  • Product Managers often provide inputs to RFPs in a B2B environment, but there is no concept of consumer-initiated RFPs in the B2C world.

Problem solving

  • Solving business problems is a key consideration in B2B, but all B2C products do not solve consumer problems. Some solve, but some are just out there doing other stuff, improving people’s lifestyle, for example. A B2C product may not solve an existing consumer problem, but may introduce a problem and then solve it.

Usability

  • As solving business problems is important in a B2B product, usability takes a back seat, but not completely ruled out though. On the other hand, usability is the lifeline in B2C products. As Steve Jobs put it “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards for the technology”.

Product demonstrations

  • Constant product demonstrations to specific customers is a norm in the B2B world, but demonstrations in B2C are normally to a general audience.

Professional services

  • Some B2B solutions, especially in the enterprise market, require custom implementation work which gets fulfilled with professional services. But there is no such concept in B2C.

Impact of social networking

  • B2B products use less of social networking for their business, but B2C products depend heavily on social networking for marketing and advertising campaigns.

Sales cycle

  • B2B products have a longer sales cycle when compared to B2C products wherein the buying process is usually a single step.

Brand identity

  • Brand identity of B2B products is driven by size of the company and customer relationships, but in the B2C space brand identity gets created through repetition and imagery.

Impulse purchase

  • Otherwise called as emotional buying, is rare in B2B businesses but very common in B2C.