Tag Archives: features

Product Management and Third-Party Integrations

I wrote a piece on product management for third-party integrations. Most product managers will at some point be tasked with a third-party integration; sometimes by choice and sometimes not. For this reason, I decided to talk to product managers with the most third-party software integration experience and set out to discover their best practices, both strategic and tactical.

Check out the post here at Mind the Product: http://www.mindtheproduct.com/2017/04/third-party-integrations.

My Talk on Software Product Pricing on the DYT Podcast

I was honored to be on Karthik Vijayakumar‘s Design Your Thinking podcast. I based my talk on a post I did a couple years ago: 13 Questions to Ask about the Pricing of Your Software Product. I’ve never done anything like a podcast before, so I encourage you to check it out:

Karthik is doing one of the best interview series in product management. Please check out some of my favorite episodes that came before me in the series:

Does a Phase 1/Phase 2 Approach Ever Actually Work?

Alicia Dixon and I interviewed 7 of our favorite product management colleagues on best practices with a phase 1/phase 2 approach. By that, we mean a scenario where a product has features A, B, and C in 2017 and adds features D, E, and F in 2018. How do you avoid getting in over your head? How do you convey this plan in a roadmap?

A special thank you to Nandini Jammi, who helped make the post stylish and clear.

Check out the post here at ProdPad: https://www.prodpad.com/2016/12/phased-rollout-strategy.

After You’ve Launched Your App: Keeping Users Engaged Past Year 1

I’ve asked some of my favorite product management and UX colleagues about best practices for keeping mobile apps successful and fresh past year 1. Read the posts or full e-book by clicking on these links and visiting the blog at UXPin…

Pt. 1: App User Engagement: Expert Advice from @tektalk, @ellenchisa, & @Li_Li_Dhttp://bit.ly/23qq2dN

Pt. 2: App User Engagement: Expert Advice from @AndreAtDell & @rcauvinhttp://bit.ly/1Wa8kfN

Pt. 3: App User Engagement: Expert Advice from @SchulteElena, @delizalde, & @Paul_Yokotahttp://bit.ly/1Tuaikp

Full e-book: App User Engagement: Advice from 8 Experts – http://bit.ly/1W8PXHy


Photo credit (balloons): Flickr – Nicolas Raymond

Horizon Scanning and Product Management

Horizon scanning is a technique for detecting early signs of potentially important developments through a systematic examination of potential threats and opportunities. Product managers can use horizon scanning to analyze what features would mean the most given several different possible futures for the organization.

 

Using horizon scanning for competitive strategy. Let’s say that I have a successful mobile product, and I’m creating a 3-year plan for it. The biggest driver for what I do is how competitor x performs in the market. Also, there is a patent lawsuit against competitor x that has a lot of focus from the executive team in my organization. I identify 5 futures that may happen, and 7 features that I want to consider. Then, on the second row, I assess the likelihood of each of the 5 futures (1-3). Next, on the third row and below, I plug in values of 1-3 for each feature, and my spreadsheet multiplies the value by the likelihood of the future. The column on the far right is a simple sum of the other columns.


What I find through the above example is that competitor x’s performance is more important than the outcome of the lawsuit, and I get a really good analysis from the face recognition feature across all 5 futures. Click here for the Excel version of the spreadsheet above, and feel free to use it as a template.

 

Using horizon scanning for proposed laws or industry standards. Horizon scanning is really useful when you’re doing an analysis of an industry that has different laws or standards that are coming in the next few years. Examples: when Canada added a new email spam law or when Europe added a new cookie law. In most countries, you won’t know for sure whether the law will become official on the date proposed, so you need to analyze several futures. Futures to consider with proposed laws:

  • Law implemented on time
  • Law implemented later than expected
  • Law struck down in court
  • Clause x added to law
  • Law canceled by government agency
  • Another country adopts similar law

 

I hope you enjoyed the post. Leave a comment on ways you’ve used this technique, and how it helped. For more activities for product management, read the Product Guy Daily. I publish it every morning.

10 Things Henry Ford Could Have Taught You about Product Management

I’ve been reading through Richard Snow’s I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford, and I’ve found a lot of parallels to my work in product management. Below are some things you could learn about product management from Henry Ford.

 

  1. A product can be wildly successful without being user-friendly. The Model T could literally break a user’s arm if the engine backfired during cranking. Just watch how difficult it is to use: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0hQh_Ej_34
  2. Find a blue ocean. Ford’s blue ocean was people who worked in agriculture. The red ocean for automobiles at the time was the rich, monocle-wearing type; Ford instead focused on the middle class and dominated.
  3. When you’ve done something better than your competitor, make sure everyone knows it. If Ford won a race in the early days of automobiles, everyone knew it. When Ford offered his workers a higher rate of pay, everyone knew it. He took every opportunity to tell you why his company and product were better.
  4. Talking about new features means you’re going to have to continue doing new features. New features were not important to Ford, because his product was already correct. The customers became trained not to request enhancements.
  5. Don’t focus on innovation for innovation’s sake. Experiment with new product design for months before you commit to changes. Consider lots of prototypes.
  6. Once you know how to do it, build it quickly and cheaply. Focus on the efficiency and sustainability of your product.
  7. Have a single throat to choke when it comes to your product. Everyone involved with Ford’s product could have an opinion, but Henry Ford was in charge of that product. Someone else wanted it redesigned? Henry Ford noted it, but change was his decision.
  8. Eat your own dog food. Ford drove a Model T, and most of his workers drove one, too. He let his wife have a more drivable car, but he made sure most people around him were using his product.
  9. Let people talk about your product if they want to. There used to be joke books about the Model T and how cheap it was. Ford didn’t mind; he let people who discussed the Model T be a positive force for his product.
  10. When you don’t know what you’re talking about, keep your big mouth shut. Ford didn’t understand that his big mouth often hurt his product. He didn’t understand what we know as PR, but you wouldn’t make the mistakes he made.

For more information on product management and UX, read the Product Guy Daily. I publish it every morning.

13 Factors to Consider in Adopting New Customer-Facing Products and Services

I’ve been looking at what organizations should consider when adopting new technological solutions, and it got me thinking. Which factors need to be considered in the research and implementation of new customer-facing products and services? Here is a checklist that you can go through during your evaluation of new technologies:

 

Security

  • Will new products and services pose any risk to data security? If a user were to log in and have her personal information compromised, this would be a disaster!

Stability

  • Will new technology solutions have outages? Many of today’s technologies are “up” for less than 99% of the time. Is this acceptable? Is there something else that users can use if the solution goes down?
  • And will they strain other technologies we use? Some software types “sit on top of” existing systems and occasionally cause them to go down.

Performance

  • Consider the performance for the product or service. Will users feel it is dramatically slower than Google or Amazon?

Functionality

  • Are the features going to be there on Day 1 or will users experience iterations to get to full functionality?
  • Is there broken functionality in the product or service? Ownership: whose problem is it to fix? Accountability: to what extent is it our throat that is going to get choked when there is a problem?
  • One-size-fits-all and one-search-fits-all: should search software work out of the box for 60% of users or 99% of users? Specialists may be alienated if the general search tool is optimized for laypeople (and vice versa).

UX

  • Is a new technology-based product or service going to change the UX of other services? Major changes to your online presence have major implications for users. Even changes that are seen as very positive by most will frustrate some.
  • For a potential product or service, at what point will UX assessment be possible? Can you do UX assessment before making a large investment in resources?
  • Will the UX for mobile users change?
  • Redesigning the user interface to incorporate a new product or service is risky, and most organizations avoid drastic changes. Look at the CNN redesign model…

2000:

2003:

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Impact on employees

  • What will new technology mean for existing employees’ job responsibilities? Is there currently expertise in the organization or will new positions be required? For those affected, will their other job responsibilities be lessened or changed?

Collaboration

  • Will the implementation of new products and services open doors for collaboration with other organizations? Could nearby organizations share costs with us? Do we want to work with those guys?

Resource usage patterns

  • Will new products and services change the current usage of your organization’s resources? Will end users incur the extra costs?

Hosting

  • Where does new technology live? The days of organizations having to buy/lease/maintain servers are coming to an end. Software companies offer SaaS solutions. Cloud companies like AWS can cheaply offer huge amounts of virtualized space. Due to cloud computing, initial development investments can be $$$, instead of $$$$.

Organizational priorities

  • How do potential new products and services address your organization’s priorities?
  • What is a new technology’s impact on ideal of being green? Is there a reduction in data usage? Does the fact that someone else is hosting it make it green?

Sustainability

  • Will new technologies remain sustainable? Sure, we can afford to have them now, but what about ten years from now? If organizational priorities change in a few years, will we still be locked into supporting the product or service?

Scalability

  • Will new technologies be scalable as usage grows?
  • Will new technologies be scalable as the organization grows?

Getting the word out

  • So let’s say we did implement a new technology-based product or service…how would we tell people about it? What is the marketing strategy?

 

What other factors should an organization consider? Leave a comment!

13 Questions to Ask about the Pricing of Your Software Product

From time to time, product managers should ask themselves questions about the pricing of their product. The best sort of situation would be that the company can raise prices, decrease discounts, and charge for new features without a consequence. If you have that scenario, then congratulations! Otherwise, ask yourself these questions every few months to see if you can make changes to improve the pricing strategy of your product.

Are there still features to add that will increase value or is product innovation becoming less meaningful? Some companies are looking really hard for that magic feature that will change the industry, but sometimes the features that could be added are less meaningful than the company hopes. Sometimes there is simply no magic feature, and the company would benefit more from architectural improvements, operational efficiencies, bug fixing, etc.

For future features, are there any that customers will pay a premium price on? For any future innovation, companies should ask whether this could be a pay feature or product. Venture capitalist-owned firms especially like whitespace.

What would our competitors do if we raised prices? Look at competitors one-by-one and assess. Maybe we don’t understand our competitors at this level. If we don’t, how could we understand them better?

What would our competitors do if we lowered our prices? Would they follow our lead or stay where they are at?

What would our partners and distributors do if we changed our prices? Would we hurt our third party relationships with a pricing change?

What if we ran fewer/smaller promotions? Discount and promotional pricing are not things that high quality brands usually want to do. Can we get out of that habit?

What would we do if one of our competitors raised its prices? Is our pricing strategy based simply upon the competitors’ prices or would their price increase temporarily allow us to gain market share?

What would we do if one of our competitors lowered its prices? Would we have to follow? Could we spin it in our favor?

If we announced a pricing change, would we want to do it well in advance or with little notice? There is a strategy of announcing a price increase with enough time that we can observe its consequences and back out, if necessary. There is also a strategy of allowing little time for competitors to react, so that we can pick up market share on them.

Is the pricing strategy in line with other products in the portfolio? Is there a special policy just for this one product? How will customers take that? Might they see that this product is becoming more innovative because of the price increase or that it is in maintenance mode due to a discount?

Would a pricing change affect other products in the portfolio? Any new pricing should have significant analysis on how the change affects the portfolio.

Is bundling of products and services making it too difficult to change prices of an individual product? Can we raise the price of fries without affecting the price of the Happy Meal?

Do our internal folks understand our pricing? In some companies, pricing is by committee. In some, it is done by asking one person. Is there ownership of pricing by someone? What is the sales/marketing process for getting pricing information?

 

For more information on product management, read the Product Guy Daily. I publish it every morning.