Product managers need to talk — often — with actual end users and buyers. We need to listen, interview, understand and empathize with paying customers. Unmediated by marketing, sales or researchers. What organizational barriers block this essential work, and can we remove some of them?
Talking generically about ‘customers’ or ‘users’ can generate lots of confusion, especially in B2B or B2B2C situations. We can be more precise by saying doctors, or shoppers, or data analysts, or whatever we really mean.
In this “Mastering Business Analysis” podcast, Rich shares thoughts on product manager versus product owner; output versus outcome; getting out of our cubes to learn from lots of real users; and building the right thing (not just building things right) to deliver measurable value.
It’s easy to believe that broadly available commercial products don’t give us exactly what we want, but that our internal team can quickly whip up precisely the right thing. This ignores some fundamental economics of software commercialization.
There are a lot of inputs to product strategy including advisory boards, customer forums, sales teams and ROI prioritization algorithms. None are sufficient on their own: we have to develop and apply strategic judgment, and test that in the marketplace.
The AgileCamp organizers have generously invited me to kick off the Dallas event with a keynote on unpacking business value. We’ll look at things from “the business side” ahead of a full day of Agile and Lean practices.
The software bits we release are not the whole product, but a part of the product. We need to make sure we ship a whole product, which includes a compelling story of interest to customers. Strategy, segmentation and customer joy matter.
As a long-time B2B infrastructure product manager, I’m used to thinking about my customers as guys. IT managers and directors, 30-50, developers or sys admins who’ve been pushed up into management, frustrated, under-appreciated and under-resourced, pale from weekends spent inside… I’m exaggerating on purpose. Rrecent chats with three women who run IT groups reminded me that we (product managers) need to channel our diverse customer base — wherever it leads us.
As data-driven product managers, we’d like to pretend that incoming technical requests are simply transactional. In the real world, though, real people and real agendas are involved. And that means there’s a personal and political context to consider when prioritizing demands on our already-overloaded development organization.