Digital Product Management starts with defining the Product Vision & Principles, defining the Team Topology, charting the Product Strategy, and working with the development team (Product, Design & Engineering) to deliver innovative products through functionality, technology and user experience design via product iterations, releases, and roadmaps.
The Product Vision describes the future you plan to create & keeps you focused on the customer. The vision is normally 2 - 5 years out & should serve as the “North Star” for the organisation. The product vision’s primary purpose is to inspire stakeholders, investors and teams to turn the vision into a reality and act as the primary driver of the team’s topology.
Product Principles complement the product vision by affirming the values and beliefs that inform the myriad of product decisions that will be encountered along the way.
Team Topologies is a term coined by Mathew Skelton and Manuel Pais and It answers the question of “How a company should organise its product people into teams to best enable them to do great work?” Your Team Topology choices should revolve around team empowerment and genuine autonomy, alongside alignment around customers, business, and technology.
Your Team Topology should answer such questions as:
Product Strategy is the sequence of products or releases you plan to deploy to realise the product vision while meeting the needs of the company as you go. The product strategy selects the objectives that are truly critical to the business, defines the “how” and “the which” problems to solve and drives the focus to deliver successful digital product development.
The strategy should also address the 5 key risks that stall successful digital product development, including:
At the tactical level, successful digital product development is best achieved through cross-functional, product teams using agile development principles and structured parallel delivery. Developing a new product broadly comprises of two activities: Product Discovery and Product Delivery.
Product Discovery - Figuring out what to build
Product Delivery - Actually building it
Product Discovery progressively reduces uncertainty around a business, product, functionality, feature idea with the aim of becoming a validated backlog item in your product backlog. This is achieved via quick experiments, customer development, prototyping & MVP validation. The aim is to ensure desirability, usability, feasibility, viability and to eliminate ethical risk.
Product Delivery is delivering that product/functionality/feature to market via production quality, product build, test, and release. This includes both Application Development (Design, Architecture & Code) and Continuous Delivery (Dev. Ops). The aim is to ensure reliability, scalability, performance and maintainability.
In some instances, Waterfall may prove to be the more suitable, however, when it comes to delivering disruptive digital products, Agile and Lean principles (delivered through Agile methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban and Xp), enjoy much higher success rates - in terms of customer acceptance and on-time, on-budget delivery. Agile Development emphasises incremental delivery, team collaboration and continual learning, instead of trying to deliver a finished product all at once. At their core, Agile and Lean processes can be distilled down to 3 key core principles:
Knowing how to build software makes you a good Product Manager but knowing the technical detail of how to “Design & Code, makes you a great one. Understanding the technical enables you to vision the art of the possible, confirms the product & tech strategy alignment and the ability to lead local Design & Dev-Teams to ensure efficient & fast, on-time product delivery.
The Lean Start-Up was first introduced by Eric Reiss. It provides a scientific approach to creating and building a tech start-up that delivers a validated and desired product into a customers' hands faster, cheaper and ultimately with less risk. The Lean Start-Up is predicated on the “Build-Measure-Learn” feedback loop.
The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, the team iterates/pivots the product, business model and customer segments to success. This involves continuous measurement, customer feedback and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate causation.
Using the Lean Start-Up approach, companies can banish start-up chaos and create order by providing tools to test a vision continuously. Lean is not just about failing fast and failing cheap. It is about installing a robust and rigorous “Build-Measure-Learn” process around incremental development of a product that validates fast-learning via user feedback and leads to delivering a successful product to market.
With the continued rise of Customer Acquisition Costs (up 60% over previous 5Yrs.) Marketers are turning to Product-Led Growth as the new frontier to drive affordable growth. Championed by OpenView Venture Partners in Silicon Valley, Product-Led Growth is a business/marketing strategy where product usage serves as the primary driver for user acquisition, conversion, and expansion. Product-led companies make this possible by appealing to end-users through giving them free access to the product, initially. This allows them to immediately experience the value and provide feedback to inform a meaningful outcome. The product becomes the marketing channel, driving virality by empowering self-service, nurturing product evangelists and creating upsell opportunities.
Product-led Growth enables your business to grow without having to invest a fortune in promotion, or to have an expensive sales team constantly chasing leads.
When your strategy is product-led, monetisation becomes much easier. It is truly a product-focused, customer-centric approach to growth.
Creation of a Consumer Grade, Product Experience: The product customer experience should be easy, effortless, and enjoyable.
North-Star Metric Definition: Your North Star metric should guide your whole customer journey.
Transparent Pricing: You must be clear that there are no upfront fees and commitments but differentiate between premium & free usage at the same time.
Apply the Paywall: Just as a user hits the threshold of deeper use and integration, you want to expose them to more features but lock them behind a paywall. You need to determine the right blend between free and paid features.
Product Virality: A viral product is one that becomes part of people’s daily routine and allows new users to onboard easily, enabling them to invite and refer their colleagues, peers, and friends.
Frictionless Onboarding: Enabling quick Time-to-Value for your users is vital. You need to enable them to experience value quickly. Make onboarding painless and mistake-free is essential as you only have minutes to engage their attention.