Most products can be extremely complex and that can result
in all kinds of pain and friction for some of the end users that experience
these complexities. When designers and engineers meet there are a lot of things
to consider in order to maintain a frictionless experience for the key end
users, and when something gets missed it can be extremely painful.
In this example from the automotive world, we can see the
types of issues car mechanics face constantly when working on vehicle
maintenance. This bolt simply cannot be removed because of the engineering that
was ‘required’ to produce a functioning vehicle. In some ways, it's funny that
this can even happen, but on a production line the order of assembly can be
controlled and that doesn’t always work in the real world. This is why we take
the time in product management to consider our personas and produce detailed
definitions that can inform cross functional teams such as design or
engineering to help us avoid these types of errors that can cost users time,
and therefore cost users money.
To understand this a bit further we should really look
towards requirement building and cross-functional communications to help us
master the art of avoiding product/service fails like this one. Or… more
comically, like this example below, where the kettle may be filled, but only by
a cup full at a time – if you have a cup, that is.
Well defined requirements are critical within any product
team no matter the size. It's important we set off on the right foot when
development begins, and we do so by being very clear on exactly what it is we
are building and who it is for. As a Product manager, it should be completely
clear whom this product or service is for and how those personas connect to
their own user journeys. All of this work ensures that we can define the
requirements of the product/service appropriately before it's delivered to market.
Well-defined product requirements are beneficial
commercially and can have a great impact on your business and product/service:
- Enhances Reputation – Building reputational
excellence will have a knock-on effect to some of the points below but
reputation alone can often be enough to create new wins. Back to cars and we
see this with Porsche, a reputation strong enough that customers will put money
down on flagship models without even seeing what the vehicle will look like or
knowing what features it will have! The converse of this might be Alfa Romeo,
for example, some equally brilliant cars built compared to Porsche. However,
because of the Italian company’s reputation, you would be more likely to test
drive a flagship Alfa before putting the money down to secure their purchase. A
simple but powerful difference between the two brands.
- Increases Revenue – This follows on from
reputation, this uplift alone can increase revenue. Will greater definition
around our requirements, we can build more compelling products then before… and
more compelling than our competition. With a boost to the quality and/or capability
of our products and services, we have the chance to win more and therefore sell
more. Again, this is symbiotic with reputation as both impact each other
positively if executed well!
- Reduces Development Cost – Clearly, if we
articulate our product requirements well from the start, we can make sure that
development teams can build out everything in the most efficient way possible,
taking all aspects of the product in to account. The benefit here is that we
can make less mistakes or require fewer tweaks or reworking to account for
forgotten or missed requirements. Better defined requirements should equate to
lower development cost due to features being built the correct way first time, more
- Improves Time to Market – Get to market quicker with
improved requirements that help every team working on product delivery do their
job better and faster! As you can imagine the knock-on effect here can be
significant. Getting to market faster might reduce initial competition live in
the market allowing you to capture a larger market share earlier on and
increase potential revenue as well as building your reputation in that market.
As for in-life products that receive updates over time, the thought is the
same, if we can deliver newer technologies or capabilities to a product that’s
in-life, we can gain similar benefits as delivering a new product into market
more quickly. The outcomes should be similar, building reputation and increase
revenue, but the mechanisms may be slightly different in that rather than
corner a market or capture a larger share at launch – We may see results more
along the lines of reducing churn and increased new customer acquisitions.
To help requirements land with the relevant people within
your business, communication is key. For Product teams and product managers,
bridging the gap between product– development – marketing – stakeholders and
more, is critical to the smooth operation, delivery, and management of products
3 key things to improve cross-functional communications.
define key goals and objectives – This is ten ensure all teams are clearly
aligned and working towards the same outcomes.
roles and responsibilities – A clear outline of roles and responsibilities
across team members across multiple teams that need to work cross-functionally
is vital. This helps keep everyone on the right tracks and reduces confusion,
helping to ensure everyone is contributing to the overall outcomes with out
duplication of workloads or confusion.
- Celebrate success! – Acknowledge
achievements and key milestones collectively. Ensuring that efforts of cross
functional teams are recognized and encourage the wins to maintain collaboration
and morale. Leaders should connect these teams to celebrate as we bask in the
reflected glory of the success that is achieved!