Creating a clear vision and mission for a product is a necessity for product managers. Consequently, many companies use product sense to drive product development processes.
A good product manager is responsible for managing not just user experience, but also business goals and technical feasibility. It is your ability to solve complex product problems by breaking them down into pieces and efficiently organizing them.
In this 3 part series, we will cover tips, examples, and the most important wireframes and methods for sharpening your product sense and product analytics skills. These tips will help you brainstorm efficiently, understand trade-offs, and align key stakeholders to make informed decisions, whether you're on a team or working alone.
So let’s start with the definition: the ability to understand a product's needs. In regards to products, there is no such thing as a "right answer". When choosing a solution, you must consider who you ask, what you value, and several other factors. In either team or solo mode, PMs are responsible for exploring all options, evaluating tradeoffs, and aligning key stakeholders.
Product Sense Todo-list
- Develop a structure and break down the problem: Try to approach complex problems methodically. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common structures. Don't reinvent the wheel, but rather get creative within the structure. Defining the problem (Framing) and making sure it's understood. Once we've understood the problem, we'll need to share our assumptions and approach.
- Think like your users: To make the right product decisions, you need to understand who your users are and keep your original objective in mind at all times. That's your North Star.
- Think about trade-offs and know your metrics: You will need to make tough decisions, and you'll need to explain how success will be measured. In this stage, we'll list a few options and weigh their pros and cons. Once we pick our solution, we'll add KPIs and define success criteria.
- It's time to turn your ideas into products: Structured, coherent approaches are only half the battle. You must then offer creative, innovative solutions. Potentially, billions of people could use your solution. Think big as you outline your solution.
- Cost and urgency: How urgent is this feature? Are there any time constraints? Is this feature expensive (time and money)? Is it a high-value, low-effort feature? Do we need to do any pre-research?
As there are different frameworks for developing products, I recommend the following: BUS and RICE frameworks, in the next section. We'll discuss each one and show how to implement them into our daily routine.
The BUS framework
To gain a better understanding of the business challenge from the product point of view, I recommend using the BUS framework, which is a three-step process.
- Business objectives: Can you describe the product vision? How will your product's success be measured and what is the product landscape?
- User problems: Why would someone use this product? Can you tell me how you would segment the users and the product? Who are your users and why?
- Solutions: What will be the main features, user flows etc…? Is this product solving a problem? How would you build an MVP?
KPIs within the BUS framework
When using the BUS framework, how can we measure success?
- Goals: Being mindful of how the goals (especially quantitative goals) can be gamed or how they can sometimes be counter-indicative of progress.
- Metrics: What would you use to measure if the product is healthy? Which one would you prioritize?
- Trade-off: Navigating a complex tradeoff: “A” or “B” option
RICE framework - Examine the trade-off
RICE stands for reach, impact, confidence, and effort. RICE is a framework for prioritizing project ideas, features, and initiatives according to their potential value.
- Reach the number of customers affected by this product or feature
- Impact on your goal of this product or feature
- Confidence in the values you've chosen
- Effort - how much time your team will devote to the project
Conclusion Re-evaluate and consider trade-offs
Example: Develop a platform for pet adoption
The following example illustrates how those frameworks (BUS and RICE) interact. To solve a common product challenge, we will step by step go through the process
- Make sure I understand the product vision and the metric we are trying to improve.
- Identify the target user for whom we want to improve the product, and brainstorm additional problems to address.
- Provide solutions, prioritize them, and make a recommendation
Firstly, I would like to know if this product will help me discover which pet is the best match for me. Let's assume that the primary use case is going to be finding a pet that is right for me, whether or not I know specifically what pet I want.
Does this product fit our company's connection and community mission? Will it be a standalone product or part of our product line?
My preference would be to measure active users in this case but on a deeper level - such as how many families adopted pets using our platform.
As part of our KPIs, we can set the ratio of the number of users registering to our platform versus the number of users adopting pets
There are pet owners, pet breeders, pet fosters, and adoption centers.
People own a variety of pets, including:
- Common pets (cats, dogs)
- Exotic (parrots, snakes, turtles)
- Those who want a pet but aren't sure what kind they should have
- Breeders who want to sell their pets
At this stage, we will focus on people who are considering getting a pet but aren't sure what they need. As long as we can solve this problem, we will be able to address the majority of other use cases as well.
- They are concerned about pet maintenance (time/money)
- They may have a budget they want to stick to when buying a pet
- They might be looking for a specific personality (high energy, friendly, laid back)
- They may be constrained with space (small apt, no backyard, etc)
Step 1: let's look at some potential solutions and rank them according to their value for the user and simplicity (effort + cost):
- Option 1: Identify the pet they want with a “pet finder” - search for a pet based on different criteria (Value = 3, Simplicity = 1, Total = 4)
- Option 2: different attributes (best for kids, best for apartments, etc…(Value = 1, Simplicity = 1, Total = 2)
- Option 3 Marketplace of pets available for adoption (V = 1, S = 2, T = 3)
Step 2: Priorities
- Based on value and simplicity we would prioritize as follows: 1 > 3 > 2
Step 3: Recap
- The goal of my product would be to help people that want a pet decide what pet is right for them. As a follow-up measure, we can provide incentives such as coupons for pet food or tips on training specific breeds for people to upload photos or confirm their decisions.
Commonly seen pitfalls for the Product Sense process
Diving straight into a solution without thinking through what the problem is, why we are solving it, why it is a problem, who the users are, and what is the value proposition. Additionally, not brainstorming all the different problems that could be solved and then prioritize them to choose the most impactful one to solve.
Stay tuned for our next article on Product analytics thinking!
Written by Hanan Lipskin, Senior AI Product Manager, Vonage.com