In the third in our occasional series of resources, 2021 is well under way with new global relationships and a worsening public health situation. The resilience and adaptability of business and consumers continues to impress with some new approaches and further ingraining of behaviours we’ve all learnt since March.
First things first. This article is not directed at our usual audience of Digital Product, UX or Agency teams. Product natives will be very familiar with the concepts here.
When working with broader stakeholders within organisations, I sometimes get push back. As a result I felt that they sometimes do need refreshing on some of the premises. For businesses it is now more important than ever to ensure that what you are delivering adds value. Value for the customer, and value for the business.
Some of the basic premises.
Our task is to create business benefit through digital channels. Jeff Bezos outlined how this is best achieved when he said ‘We see our customers as invited guests to the party and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better!’.
A party is a once only event. We are there to make everything perfect, to provide the guests with an experience that they will enjoy, and I feel that sometimes here is the tension. How can we prioritise when, for the party, everything is a priority!
The unfortunate fact is resources are finite. We balance our requirements across a group of broad variables.
The final measure is quality. To explain this, a feature could be executed quickly by few resources and with minimal manual effort to deliver, functionality that could also be delivered to a high degree of polish. Here is where the Prius/Rolls Royce analogy works but unfortunately also fails. They are both cars that can get four people from A-B. It’s just that the time that goes into the production of both products is completely different. Ask any business owner and they will always want the Rolls Royce. But of course if you want a real Rolls Royce you have to join the waiting list and those wanting the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe will have to wait five years.
This is in essence the requirement for prioritisation. There is a need to get from A-B. we all want an extemporary experience for our customers but we don’t want to wait 5 years for it.
To build the experience that perfectly suits the needs of your customers. The goal should be to follow the deploy, measure and learn approach building feature by feature until you get from your Prius to your Rolls Royce ensuring that you are building in the right components along the way.
I rarely get projects with unlimited resources. However, quality and functionality are always required in abundance. In the worst scenarios time is also short.
It’s a short explanation but ultimately as a product manager, I am looking to ascertain a rounded picture of the real requirements across all pillars. It is only when I have this that I can manage your product to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better!
In this scenario its important to gain an understanding of the organisational priorities.
To understand this I use the following lens.
Defining a prioritisation framework – Setting the prioritisation criteria
Or think about this question. What will be the cost of delay if you delivered a certain feature 3 months down the road or within the next couple of sprints!
When considering the cost of delay. Think about the following.
So when we get a prioritised list we are not moving things out of scope, we are understanding their relevance to scope. We then use agile methodologies to develop, test, learn and iterate.
Fail fast, excel quicker, iterate
Even in our best efforts we don’t always get it right first time.
That P1 priority item so painstakingly thought through doesn’t really deliver the expected results. That’s also okay if you are working with the Agile framework, because you test , measure and learn. The agile methods iterative nature also means the end product is ready for market much faster, staying ahead of the competition and quickly meeting the benefits.
If you are live to market and the P1 enhancements are effective you are capitalising on that investment. Creating revenue in the short term to reinvest in further resources.
To conclude, this article is not intended as rocket science or a definitive work. I’ve been in the industry so long that prioritisation is part and parcel of what I do. I do get a little surprised when people not from the same background ask, ‘But I want everything, why do I need a prioritisation exercise?’
I now have a little link, when I am asked that question again, I will send people here.
And don’t forget. There is always another party. It’s not a one-time event!
Copyright JumpRock 2021
Our customers keep changing and adapting to the situation we all find ourselves in. As a second instalment, in what we hope will be a very short but ongoing series, we’ve produced a further quick slide outlining the immediate and obvious changes we can all attest to in the population, post covid. Download the slide and drop it into your next board deck. Cover up our JumpRock logo or keep it on there, it’s up to you. If you are a marketeer using your platforms in the same way that you did pre covid. It’s time to take a deeper look.
Copyright JumpRock 2020
When information gathering, within a business it is often the case that the most senior people in an organisation are the most adept at simplifying. Paring a raft of detailed and rich information down to a few short bullet points or a statement. Time is money and it’s important to get the pertinent information across succinctly and in the least amount of time.
If what you need is depth, brevity is the enemy. You want the colour and the peripheral details, they will help you understand the boundaries of the subject matter. One approach which can deliver results is to ask people to picture the answer. Not verbally, not in any kind of semantic sense but give them a piece of paper and some pencils or a sharpie and ask them to draw 'what good looks like'?
What you are doing is taking performant professionals and momentarily putting them out of their comfort zone. People who can simplify and communicate at an exceptionally high level have to move from using linguistics to using shapes, You put them in a place they may not have been for many years, they possibly have not drawn anything since they were at school. The stakeholders you are working with have to think in new ways. They have to imagine how they can communicate something in an unusual medium, and they will be clear that what they draw will have connotations. Watch as a new care will arise. You will see the eyes pop up to the top right of the sockets and the top of the pencil will get pointed towards, and chewed in the corner of the mouth.
The exercise is a discussion starter within a workshop. It works very well if you are running a remote workshop as it gives each attendee something tangible to hold up and talk to on camera. Give the group time to think, explore and discuss and you will see wonderful things happen. Annotations will appear that you would never have seen before on bullet points. People will start to explain why their drawing includes a clenched fist, a wry smile or a hand over the eyes. You will get important contextual points coming out in the drawings.
Now this is taking nothing away from simplification. Simplification is a wonderful thing and I agree fully with people who argue for it. This technique is a way of simplifying, remember a picture tells a thousand words, And this should be used when you need that depth, when you need some of the background colour and detail. You need the context and you need the subplot. You need the whole novel on a page!
Anybody that has played Pictionary will understand what is going on here. And if you find you're working in an organisation that has an after-hours Pictionary league, I have one further piece of advice. In workplaces or teams where drawing is prized (a studio or a design organisation) ask them to make models. I have run this same technique before and asked the group to create sock puppets to act out what success looks like.
It is wonderful how inventive people can be when asked to move outside of their comfort zone.
Copyright JumpRock 2020
You’ve changed! But we all have. To save you having to do the thinking we’ve pulled together a quick slide outlining the immediate and obvious changes we can all attest to in the population, post covid. Download the slide and drop it into your next board deck. Cover up our JumpRock logo or keep it on there, it’s up to you. If you are using your PAAS/SAAS marketing platforms in the same way that you did pre Covid. It’s time to take a deeper look.