ProductTank Stockholm – Creating drive in product development

ProductTank Sthlm August was all about “Creating drive in product development”.  It featured three great speakers:

Siavash Ghorbani (@siavashq), CTO & Co Founder of Tictail, talked about Building a Product Driven Organisation:

“I’m planning to talk about the different phases we as an organisation went through as we grew from 4 to 30 over the past two years and how we’ve recruited and structured our organization for high throughput without penalizing creativity.”

 

Kevin Goldsmith (@KevinGoldsmith), Director of Engineering at Spotify, talked about Autonomous Teams:

“Spotify has made a central bet that we can move faster, be happier and be more effective with autonomous, full-stack teams. We’ve had some great success with this approach, but it hasn’t been without some tweaking and adjustments. I’ll talk about what is critical to think about if you want to try this with your product. ” 

 

Tuva Palm (@tuvapalm), Group Product Manager Platform at Klarna, talked about Growing from 1 Customer to 3.5 Billion:

“I will talk about how the PM role changes when you grow and what critical ingredients remain the same no matter the size.”

 

Drinks and a light snack were be provided by Logi Analytics, fueling the energy behind these talks and the great conversations throughout the evening.

The post ProductTank Stockholm – Creating drive in product development appeared first on MindTheProduct.

16
Oct 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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Regenerating ProdPad: starting from scratch for beautiful design

When it came down to conceiving the new design for ProdPad, we wanted this to follow exactly the same philosophy as the rest of this Regenerated project. Much like the complete re-write of our back-end, and back-to-basics wireframes from a fresh pair of eyes, we wanted to create a new ProdPad design from scratch.

For many of the same reasons behind our decision to hire Mojca, our UX expert, we brought in the support of talented front-end developer and designer Beno to take us through this regeneration. Of course, Simon and myself are even less equipped to create a beautiful finished design than we are wireframes and mockups, but in much the same way as Mojca was given a free card on our new user interface, Beno launched straight into the deep end with an interactive redesign process.

In onboarding Beno, we made a conscious decision not to follow the most classic approaches to software redesign, which tend to take one of two routes.

1. Photoshop perfectionism

It’s of course an option to complete all designs in Photoshop for sign off before development begins. A design process heavily lead by Photoshop in this way often goes hand in hand with prioritization of aesthetics. The benefits are that as project or product manager you can be sure that you’re happy with a design before committing development resources. But this approach is usually followed in line with a designer’s skill, rather than by design. Look, feel and readability are extremely important, but the risks of Photoshop perfectionism are that your design can often come out detached from how it will work on-screen.

2. Template compromises

Another option is to use a design template or framework. This is what we did for ProdPad’s first design, on top of the popular design framework Bootstrap. This approach gives a great head-start into a readily interactive design, but is cumbersome and code-heavy, especially as more and more customizations are added on. With these frameworks it’s no easy task to build a unique design that meets your needs, as customization involves mastery of conflicting styles and code.

The third route: Interactive real-time design

Instead, we’re taking a third, alternative approach to the final design of the regenerated ProdPad that works as a natural continuation of our UX designs. This is why finding the right team to work on this project was so important. Beno – much like the rest of the D.Labs team – has experience in building several other beautiful, highly interactive web-apps and has the skillset to jump straight into an interactive design. Above pixel-perfection, we knew that our design needed to reflect great flow and usability, and that would require the flexibility to craft elements for our specific use-case.

A look at the early steps of putting in the scaffolding through to a more final design of the product

A look at the early steps of putting in the scaffolding through to a more final design of the product

Beno is building the app directly from Mojca’s wireframes with AngularJS, without a final design in place, though with an understanding of the flow, and personality we wanted to achieve in the final product. He’s making visual decisions at the same time as he defines precise page layout and interactions, and sharing real interactive designs with us as new elements are built in.

If you’d like to hear more about our ProdPad Regenerated project, you can get in touch with us – and even find out about getting onto the beta program – here

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14
Oct 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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Psych-savvy product management for truly human technology

Your average product management team is fully behind the concept of user-centric design and development.

But what about people-centric products? What we still sometimes fail to remember is that we are building for human beings with deeply human desires, flaws, motivations and limitations that don’t stop when they become users of our products. Psychological principles become increasingly important when we consider customers and users in this way, but what is the role of psychology, neuroscience or social behavioral study in real product management? How can it be harnessed to build better products?

In this article we take a look at 3 key principles of a more psych-savvy approach to designing and building products.

Understanding customers is about understanding people

One of the most valuable but perhaps most abstract changes that psychology brings to product is a different way of thinking about your users. At this year’s Mind the Product conference, Interaction and Experience Research Director for Intel – Genevieve Bell – shared with us an understanding of human behavior that could transform a product manager’s typical approach to their users. She highlighted that while we’re tempted to believe that changes in technology reflect changes in us as human beings, what makes us human in fact changes very slowly.

An appreciation of this bigger picture can make us better product managers. Genevieve herself – an anthropologist – is an example of Intel’s appreciation for a different outlook on understanding customers. And she’s not the only one; from psychology-led design consultancy Behaviour, to psychology graduate and founder of Fitbit Tim Roberts, many more with human behavior in their blood are turning their training to building and making products.

Don Norman even calls for changes to design education to better equip designers for the social experiences they are creating:

“In the early days of industrial design, the work was primarily focused upon physical products. Today, however, designers work on organizational structure and social problems, on interaction, service, and experience design. Many problems involve complex social and political issues. As a result, designers have become applied behavioral scientists, but they are woefully under-educated for the task.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every product manager needs to rush off back to school to get their psychology degree. But perhaps reading a book or article here or there, re-educating your team to consider the humanness of your customers, could give you the perspective you need to take your products from average to awesome.

Building sticky products is about habit forming

Getting into the heads of your users can be applied much more directly than a general approach to product, however. One of the industry’s leading thought leaders on the intersection between technology, business and psychology – Nir Eyal – also spoke to us at this year’s Mind the Product on the power of habit forming in your technology products.

“The hook is an experience designed to connect the user’s problem to your solution, with enough frequency to form habits.”
Hook-Model
How Facebook, Twitter and other major technologies have exploded into our lives in the past few years is no pure coincidence. In theory, all product managers can use the science of habit forming to figure out how to trigger desired behavior in their users. Of course, that’s no simple task, but a little part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens can help to give us a head start. This stimulates the stress of desire, and it is these cravings that move us to action. Moving users to strive for rewards from your product, which might take the form of social, resource, mastery, or investment-based rewards can help you encourage them to come back again and again.

An example of this habits-based approach comes from Behaviour, who worked with psychologists at University College London to build behavioral insight into the design of an app for breast cancer charity CoppaFeel. Elements such as taking a pledge when starting the app to encourage a long-term commitment, and data on how many other users have ‘copped a feel’ for social proof, were developed to encourage young women to form a habit.

Perhaps an element of your product could be reimagined to encourage more habit-based behavior in the hunt for one of these basic human rewards.

Good products treat customers as humans at every step

Your users are probably not this ecstatically happy

Your users are probably not this ecstatically happy

As businesses we are sometimes guilty of investing all of our empathy for customers into the initial development of our products or marketing, but forgetting that these people face the same challenges when they’re using our products too. Kathy Sierra delivered a very strong message at Mind the Product, urging product people not to trade personas for stock photo images of their users after the sale.

When we’re trying to build great products it’s not just about motivating users, but keeping them on track in face of lagging willpower. So how can we overcome this derailment of our users? An important psychological concept to be mindful of when assessing your entire customer experience is cognitive leaks. Don’t suck away your users cognitive power when they’re trying to use your product; instead limit choice, provide clear instructions and support and offer clean feedback so your users’ brains can rest assured you’ve got it covered.

Don’t forget that your users never stop being the very human people that they are, and account for that at every stage of their customer journey.

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07
Oct 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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Answering your Q’s: bringing customer suggestions directly into ProdPad

For a product manager, all different sources of feedback and new product iteration are important. And that’s just as true for us as it is for you.

In another meta-example of us product managing the product management process, I wanted to share another great suggestion from one of our users – Michael – for bringing customer ideas more closely into the idea management process.

“I would love to see a Customer portal to be able to allow a customer to enter in ideas based off a series of questions. Today we have over 2000 customers that have great ideas but the only way to bring them in is by email. I would love if they would be able to enter an idea into the system but not have access like employees do today. Just a thought.”

Now this is a great idea. Whether future evolutions of the ProdPad platform would take quite this form isn’t possible to say today, but it’s certainly in-line with our vision for customer involvement in product management.

While we don’t currently support this kind of direct customer interaction in ProdPad, there are a few ways in which you can use the platform to support customer involvement in the idea management process. While we carry on collecting feedback like Michael’s to devise the most effective ways to invite customer feedback, you can make use of ProdPad’s integrations with the tools your customers already use.

1. Integrate with UserVoice

UserVoice is a customer service tool for gathering ideas and supporting large groups of external users, where they can suggest ideas and vote them up so that it’s easier to see what’s popular. The integration with ProdPad allows you to ‘push’ those popular ideas to ProdPad where they can be fleshed out more and pushed on to development. As the ideas are worked on, we report back to your users in UserVoice so they get feedback too on progress being made. However, you choose how this status mapping works and the ins and outs of that progress is reserved for your team only – keeping product development appropriately internal.

2. Integration with email/forms/etc. via Zapier

Zapier is a tool that hooks up dozens of different services, and ProdPad is just one of those services. Others include basic email, web forms (like Google forms or Wufoo) and many more. When you’ve chosen a good match through Zapier, you can set up an integration that allows end customers to email in or add feedback via a form, which will be added to ProdPad automatically. This again keeps the detail of what’s happening in ProdPad private, but allows them to submit ideas or feedback directly via whatever channel both you and they prefer that they use.

So, try out one of these methods to seek out more feedback from your customers. And if you have suggestion for us too, there are a few different ways you can get your idea into our very own ideas list. You can send us an email, you can engage with us in-tool using the ‘Get in touch’ button (handily hooked up with Intercom.io), or you can even leave your thoughts on this problem in the comments below!

The post Answering your Q’s: bringing customer suggestions directly into ProdPad appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

28
Sep 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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How building an MVP is just like your 9th grade science experiment

What is an MVP?

A term popularized by startup writer Eric Ries, a minimum viable product (MVP) is “a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial user” – according to techopedia.

At the heart of it, the MVP philosophy about doing the least amount of work you can in order to learn the most of something.

When you release a new product, there are a whole lot of potential risks. What if people don’t see the value of your product? What if they just don’t love it? What if it’s not scalable? And what if it’s not financially viable? Or what if it’s not sufficiently differentiated from your competition? Or your market isn’t as big as you thought? Developing a minimal viable product is about reducing that risk so that you can maximize your success. When you push out an MVP as soon as is reasonable, you reduce your overheads, get faster feedback and all the while you’re able to measure your progress.

So how do you do it? How do you know when you’ve reached your MVP, when to stop building, and when to just get your product out there?

Taking a development term like this perhaps makes it seem more complicated a concept than it really is. Instead, you can probably take a look back to your grade 9 approach to science. In this introduction to the scientific method, all you were asked to do was to define a simple hypothesis and test it.

And much like your 9th grade science experiment, when developing your MVP this can be broken down into a few simple steps:

  1. Declare your assumptions or business risks
  2. Organize them into a testable hypothesis
  3. Answer the question: what’s the smallest thing I can do or make to test this hypothesis
  4. Do it! (it’s your MVP)

The last thing to figure out is what to do with the data that comes back from your 9th grade experiment. This is where the MVP philosophy is also about being bold. If your results show you that your hypothesis carries too much risk, you either change direction, or completely pivot, and try again.

A great example of this is Groupon. Before becoming the business we all know today, the Groupon team had created a social media platform focused on bringing people together around a cause, called The Point. When members showed a tendency to focus on saving money, The Point’s founders tested a simple MVP to test the hypothesis that group buying offered a better product/market fit. This took the form of a wordpress blog with PDF coupons. The success of this experiment is well-documented history of one of the fastest growing companies of all time.

Building an MVP isn’t about knocking out something quick and dirty or cutting corners. It’s not about deciding part way through development that you’ve about had enough and you want to give it a shot in the market. It’s about getting down to the very basics of the scientific method, and finding something to test.  The MVP approach to building products is much more than a specific method of development. It’s a mode of business that believes it pays off to invest in learning.

So if you have to, dig out those old excercise books and get back to the basics of experimentation, and you’ll be surprised by what your science teacher really taught you.

If you’d like to find out more on best practice processes, read our 7 pillars of product management

And if you’d like to discover how ProdPad can help you with awesome product management, sign up for a 14 day free trial here

The post How building an MVP is just like your 9th grade science experiment appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

24
Sep 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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ProdPad @MTPcon 2014 – keeping on learning

Simon and Janna ProdPad FoundersSimon and I are not only founders of ProdPad, but also 2/3 of the founding team of Mind the Product. Last week saw our biggest ever conference yet, bringing together over 900 product managers at London’s iconic Barbican Centre for Mind the Product 2014.

This year, ProdPad got involved directly with the Mind the Product as lanyard sponsors. Simon, I and our team were there to talk to attendees about ProdPad and – even more importantly – hear about product managers’ challenges and goals to help us deliver a more effective solution.

On Thursday, September 11th , Mind the Product held its first ever workshop track, with four expert sessions on Product Roadmapping, Lean UX, Agile Product Development and Analytics & Testing. The workshops were a real success with all participants getting stuck right in and raising some excellent questions, some of which we’ll be exploring over the coming weeks too.

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Friday, September 12th, brought us our biggest and best ever MTPcon yet, with excellent speakers. Some of the key ideas discussed were a more real approach to customer focused product management that gets right to the heart of customers as people, as well as how to be a better product manager and strong leader in face of organizational and structural challenges. You can get a full recap of the day over on the Mind the Product blog.

15076368498_c44f401373_z

With illuminating presentations from the experts, and engaged discussion from the audience, this year’s MTPcon was truly fascinating. As organizers, we put in a lot of work to deliver this event to Europe’s product managers, but as product managers ourselves we got out just as much as we put in.

Thanks again to everyone who attended, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

For attendees who didn’t get a chance to chat with us about ProdPad you can get in touch here.

The post ProdPad @MTPcon 2014 – keeping on learning appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

19
Sep 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
POSTED IN

Product

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ProdPad @MTPcon 2014 – keeping on learning

Simon and Janna ProdPad FoundersSimon and I are not only founders of ProdPad, but also 2/3 of the founding team of Mind the Product. Last week saw our biggest ever conference yet, bringing together over 900 product managers at London’s iconic Barbican Centre for Mind the Product 2014.

This year, ProdPad got involved directly with the Mind the Product as lanyard sponsors. Simon, I and our team were there to talk to attendees about ProdPad and – even more importantly – hear about product managers’ challenges and goals to help us deliver a more effective solution.

On Thursday, September 11th , Mind the Product held its first ever workshop track, with four expert sessions on Product Roadmapping, Lean UX, Agile Product Development and Analytics & Testing. The workshops were a real success with all participants getting stuck right in and raising some excellent questions, some of which we’ll be exploring over the coming weeks too.

15074717329_36901d0955_z

Friday, September 12th, brought us our biggest and best ever MTPcon yet, with excellent speakers. Some of the key ideas discussed were a more real approach to customer focused product management that gets right to the heart of customers as people, as well as how to be a better product manager and strong leader in face of organizational and structural challenges. You can get a full recap of the day over on the Mind the Product blog.

15076368498_c44f401373_z

With illuminating presentations from the experts, and engaged discussion from the audience, this year’s MTPcon was truly fascinating. As organizers, we put in a lot of work to deliver this event to Europe’s product managers, but as product managers ourselves we got out just as much as we put in.

Thanks again to everyone who attended, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

For attendees who didn’t get a chance to chat with us about ProdPad you can get in touch here.

The post ProdPad @MTPcon 2014 – keeping on learning appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

19
Sep 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
POSTED IN

Product

DISCUSSION No Comments
TAGS

ProdPad @MTPcon 2014 – keeping on learning

Simon and Janna ProdPad FoundersSimon and I are not only founders of ProdPad, but also 2/3 of the founding team of Mind the Product. Last week saw our biggest ever conference yet, bringing together over 900 product managers at London’s iconic Barbican Centre for Mind the Product 2014.

This year, ProdPad got involved directly with the Mind the Product as lanyard sponsors. Simon, I and our team were there to talk to attendees about ProdPad and – even more importantly – hear about product managers’ challenges and goals to help us deliver a more effective solution.

On Thursday, September 11th , Mind the Product held its first ever workshop track, with four expert sessions on Product Roadmapping, Lean UX, Agile Product Development and Analytics & Testing. The workshops were a real success with all participants getting stuck right in and raising some excellent questions, some of which we’ll be exploring over the coming weeks too.

15074717329_36901d0955_z

Friday, September 12th, brought us our biggest and best ever MTPcon yet, with excellent speakers. Some of the key ideas discussed were a more real approach to customer focused product management that gets right to the heart of customers as people, as well as how to be a better product manager and strong leader in face of organizational and structural challenges. You can get a full recap of the day over on the Mind the Product blog.

15076368498_c44f401373_z

With illuminating presentations from the experts, and engaged discussion from the audience, this year’s MTPcon was truly fascinating. As organizers, we put in a lot of work to deliver this event to Europe’s product managers, but as product managers ourselves we got out just as much as we put in.

Thanks again to everyone who attended, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

For attendees who didn’t get a chance to chat with us about ProdPad you can get in touch here.

The post ProdPad @MTPcon 2014 – keeping on learning appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

19
Sep 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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How small is too small for idea management?

Last week I got a pretty smart question from a ProdPad free trial user that merits a bit more exploration.

We’ve talked in other blog posts about the difference between product and project management tools. In our vision of how product managers and development teams work together seamlessly, everything that could be done lives in a product management tool, and everything that will be done is transformed into project management tickets.

So as our insightful user pointed out, what about the little things? The bug reports and the minor issues? What’s too minor to make it into ProdPad?

The line you draw between ProdPad and project management tools like JIRA will be specific to your team dynamics and processes. But in general, to decide which workflow to begin with, you can ask yourself whether a change is at all up for debate. Bugs can typically considered a development ‘to do’ item. When you’re simply looking at a broken piece of software that needs to be fixed, this should go straight into the development backlog and scheduled accordingly.

However when you get into the realm of ‘little things’, this question gets a little more complicated. A little thing might be a UX fix for something that’s confusing customers, a detail your team realises really should have been included in a previous release.

If something just needs to be done – and is dev-ready – it can bypass ProdPad. But check yourself on the following to help you decide whether that’s really the case:

  • Is there a chance this change will spark a debate as to whether it’s a good idea or not?
  • Are you able to provide JIRA with enough information right away for a developer to pick up this task without any further support?
  • Can this change realistically be delivered in the next few sprints?

These daily decisions ultimately come down to what you feel is appropriate and how you communicate. Guidelines are a good idea especially for larger teams, but training your product managers to ask intelligent questions and approach these workflows with the consequences in mind is the best way to avoid mixups or bottlenecks.

If you have any insight you can share on the ins and outs of how you manage a workflow between ProdPad and your development tools, drop a comment below!


How small is too small for idea management?
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The post How small is too small for idea management? appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

10
Sep 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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Education vs Experience – the future generation of product managers

Today’s product managers come from many different backgrounds. As a profession so deeply rooted into the entire business, experiences from sales and marketing, customer support, engineering and more can all propel people into a product management function. But what about the next generation? Are we looking forward to a troop of product managers by trade?

Although still a young field with much to be defined, the emergence of formal training does point to the better establishment of product management as a discipline in its own right. Arguably, the surge in a product management education market has been able to happen because businesses are keenly looking for answers when defining what product management is and how it should be done.

Courses are being offered by a range of organizations, from startups such as General Assembly to more classic bodies such as the University of Stanford, and even to specific businesses created just for product management training.

Who are the people behind this future generation of product managers? Largely they’re the ones who have taken several years to learn the ropes themselves, and are looking to pass on that knowledge to help optimize and refine the capabilities of the next generation. Of course there are always opportunists to look out for, so pay close attention to the bios of instructors and lecturers, but generally speaking elders (and not so elders) are looking to share.

And what does a product management education cover? From course to course, quite a lot! Here are three key areas in which courses and training are offering a more formal introduction to the skills today’s product managers have had to learn the long way.

Practical product management

Hands-on experience assisting another product manager with the day-to-day work involved around managing a backlog or getting a release out, or being gradually given responsibility for certain features within a release is an invaluable way to learn the trials and tribulations of what can go wrong when delivering new product. But practical aspects of product management courses are focusing on tools to help prepare new product managers navigate these processes too. As models and methods become more established, from roadmapping techniques to delivery checklists, they are working their way into a more formalized approach to how to manage products.

Handling product strategy

It’s undeniable that those who have the most prior experience not only handling product strategy but working with executive teams against KPIs on business strategy are going to be the most comfortable and arguably the best placed to deliver a valuable product vision. But an education based on scientific method and business essentials can well-equip product managers to execute a successful product strategy. Tools and tactics for gathering market data and analyzing it, for example, will help to breed a generation of product managers with a foremost focus on business value and market strategy.

Leadership and diplomacy

Product Managers might not always be official leaders in the same sense as the classic executive team, but leadership skills are a hugely important part of this role. Again, the confidence required to exert these qualities tends to come from experience of success in taking a product to market and working with diverse business functions in order to get there. But we all need to start somewhere to get there. Many product management courses have elements that focus specifically on communications and diplomacy skills, similar to more traditional management training.

Either looking ahead to that future generation, or to the future of many of our own careers, it seems that product management will fall in line with other business functions when it comes to personal development. Rather than an alternative to experience, training and education can be seen as an an additional layer on top for existing product managers, or a grounding foundation for new ones. As training becomes more formalised I imagine that a healthy balance between experience and education will be a killer combination for any product management hopeful. And for those of us already in the industry, we can look ahead to a process of continued debate on our philosophies and optimization of our methods with the support of a more academic approach alongside good old fashioned experience.

What do you think of the product management education currently on offer to current and future product managers alike, and what direction do you see it taking in the future?

The post Education vs Experience – the future generation of product managers appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

04
Sep 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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