There is no perfect formula for managing and developing a successful product. Having a skilled product manager and the necessary resources are only two ingredients that will assist you in making your product market successful.
Developing a successful product and bringing it to market necessitates extensive research, strategic decision-making, and meticulous planning. This preparation is critical because a successful product launch is critical to a company’s revenue and reputation.
Product development is not a one-time event. If it were, it would be as simple as your company’s top executives brainstorming at a local happy hour, returning to the office, and shipping a new product in one glorious act of divine inspiration.
On the other hand, effective product planning is a complex process involving thousands of factors transforming the initial idea and a wide range of activities to ensure appropriate results.
What is product planning?
Product planning is the process by which a company details the essential features, target market, and development timeline of a new product. A product plan enables businesses to embark on their product development journey with a clear picture of what to build—and for whom. It also aligns the many teams involved in the product’s development to clarify who is responsible for the doing. Product planning is an iterative and constant process that creates rules and expectations while allowing for flexibility in response to new information and challenges. That said, it’s natural for your strategy to evolve and change as you research and test your product.
The five stages of product development
During the ideation stage, decision-makers can spitball the problems they want their product to solve and the features they’ll need to build to solve them. Because the ideation stage is critical to the rest of the product planning process, it is essential to include decision-makers from other teams. Representation from across the organization will assist in grounding your “Here’s what we want to do!” product concepts and moving them into the “Here’s what we can do” territory.
You can try a few different strategies:
Brainstorming: Open the floor to discussion with your original concept. Please make a list of even the most unlikely suggestions and use it as a springboard for more grounded discussions.
Map your thoughts:
- Put your customer’s problem on a whiteboard and ask your team what associations come to mind.
- Relate these ideas to the main problem.
- Use the patterns that emerge as a springboard for further discussion.
- Use mind mapping, sketching, and storyboarding.
For a good reason, the early stages of product planning are often referred to as product discovery. You must not only persuade users that they require your product but also learn about the market.
First, determine whether customers are experiencing the problem that your product is attempting to solve. Companies that already have products should conduct customer interviews and review product feedback and behavioral data to confirm their hypotheses.
The competition comes next. Investigate, test, and evaluate every solution currently on the market that has the potential to compete with your eventual product.
Product roadmap creation
Your product roadmap is The Plan. It’s a physical document that details tasks and timelines for every team involved in your product’s development, release, and growth. As your company’s product, engineering, marketing, and other departments hit the ground running, the roadmap will serve as the primary source of truth.
Creating the product roadmap allows you and the product planning team to review your product before development. It’s the ideal time to prioritize developing your most important features over those that can wait until after release. It would be beneficial if you also considered the timeline’s feasibility. Even the best-laid plans tend to hit snags along the way, so that it wouldn’t hurt to factor in some extra time.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
Product planning does not end once your ideas have completed development. As your team continues to piece together your product, your focus should shift to achieving a minimum viable product (MVP)—the point at which your product performs its most important functions while passing a low usability test.
How do you find your MVP? Begin testing your product to gather feedback. It may be compelling to release your product into the wild once it has accomplished that One Cool Thing, but this is not always the case. Try it out on yourself before cold testing it on coworkers unfamiliar with the product.
Perform usability tests with people outside your organization once you’ve determined that your product will not gain sentience and trigger Judgment Day. Finally, gather a group of early adopting beta testers and give them free rein. Gather feedback via surveys, emails, and interviews, and then use their criticism to fix bugs and improve performance before releasing your product to the public.
Launch your product and growth
Launch your product after successful testing and feedback. You can make your product on a small or large scale, depending on the size of your company. Launching on a smaller scale allows you to test your product on a larger scale. You may decide to expand its availability to larger markets based on demand.
Change your product roadmap so that it still adheres to your original product vision while considering your customers’ needs. Observe your product data and the markets to continuously generate new growth opportunities—or even your next great product.
How do product managers Utilize Jobs To Be Done?
As you talk to customers, gather insights to improve your products and analyze competition: Discover insights by conducting customer interviews and attempting to comprehend the tasks your customers wish to be completed. Here are some questions to ask during customer interviews to identify the Jobs To Be Done:
- What would they do with their money if it wasn’t spent on their product?
- What did your customers do before discovering your product?
- How did they come across your product?
- What would they do if they could no longer use your product?
- Have customers budgeted for the use of your product or other solutions?
- What changes can be made to better meet their needs?
- How do they expect their lives to improve once they have found the right solution?
Product Improvement: Knowing your customers’ JTBD allows you to determine whether your product needs to be improved. It’s possible that your product does everything your customers need and that doing anything else just adds costs with no added benefits.
Prioritization: As you talk to customers and learn about their journeys, you’ll notice a lot of Jobs To Be Done opportunities. While this is exciting, it is impossible to complete all of the customer tasks. Instead, concentrate on themes and choose the most pressing customer job to complete.
Improve your copy and marketing materials: Create better marketing materials that speak directly to your customers’ JTBD. Instead of touting features and functionality, demonstrate that you understand their emotional motivations and how their lives work. Discuss what your product does for your customers rather than what it is.
Product planning lays the groundwork for effective product management. It demonstrates the foundation for cross-functional teams to plan, develop, and market their product. It ensures that product managers identify the appropriate target customers and niche industries before reaching the product planning stages.
Product planning is an important part of the product implementation process. It enables secure product development by assisting in the assessment of potential risks and threats. Project managers use product planning assumptions in their work to achieve best practices and outcomes.
Jobs to be done focuses on customer motivation and why they purchase your products. It addresses the qualitative aspects that cannot be compensated for solely through analytics or telemetry. Furthermore, Jobs-to-Be-Done serves as a unifier for various teams within your organization. When everyone understands and is allowed to focus on how your products improve the lives of your customers, everyone works better together.