By Dinker Charak, Principal Product Manager
Founders of pre-revenue start-ups or pre-series A startups and product managers of early-age products have a huge task at hand. Many an enthusiastic product owner struggles with designing a strategy that could win them a sizable and loyal market share. And this market need is the inspiration behind the framework for a product management journey, discussed in the article.
According to a McKinsey article, “…businesses with the best product-development track records do three things better than their less-successful peers: they create a clear sense of project goals early on, they nurture a strong project culture in their workplace, and they maintain a close contact with customers throughout a project’s duration.”
The framework is day long, with breadth-first sessions. Product owners and managers go back, post the workshop, armed with tools, to delve deep and devise detailed product strategies.
The framework: Articulate the product idea
Every product usually starts out as an idea to solve a problem. And because thoughts, words, and intentions are usually not as clear as words, preferably on paper/recorded digitally, the first section of the framework deals with using a structured template to do just that – articulate the product idea.
The tools at use here are a combination of Product in a Box (or Product Box) from Innovation Games Company, and the Elevator Pitch.
Product Box asks one to visualize the product packaging. Each side of the box holds specific information, like the product name, logo, price etc.
The Elevator Pitch is a succinct showcase of an idea’s key aspects. It forces one to articulate (yes, that word again!) a product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP), competitive advantage and customer segments.
Business around the product
The Business Model Canvas is a visual template or “a global standard used…. to describe, design, challenge, and pivot your business model.” The canvas draws a lot from what was developed during the ‘articulation phase’ but has more depth.
The Customer Segments column requires plotting the audience who are willing to pay for this product and for whom this product will create value. One needs to narrow the customer segments during this exercise. Next, the Value Propositions column is where every identified customer sector should align with a value proposition. The Channels column is filled with touch points that can deliver value to corresponding customer segments.
Then comes Revenue Streams that explores pricing mechanisms through which a business model is capturing value. This section also requires one estimating revenue potential and its ensuing complexity. This helps product owners and managers prioritize one avenue over another.
Finally, the Cost Structure column is used to map the business structure, to a cost structure. We cover everything from salaries, rents, internet/WiFi service, laptops, furniture, sales, marketing and accounting personnel, filings and compliance, cloud investments to licenses fees. The objective is to realise the kind of real finances and infrastructure, required to run a business based on a well-articulated product idea.
MVP and Tech stack
Usually, it is very little time that’s devoted to talking about the required product stack, including the backend (often a proto-platform). The framework asks leading questions that get the product owners to start getting into the platform thinking frame of mind.
The Product Stack Template and Product Management Canvas, have, both been designed by the author. The Product Stack helps plan the channel choice, third party products and tools, and the tech stack needed, to build a scalable backend platform. This involves discussing value propositions, alongside products that will deliver them.
The Product Management Canvas, inspired by the author’s work at RooKidsApp.com, that he founded at an earlier time in his career, focuses on the product version, with the highest return on investment. This canvas helps create a lean and meaningful MVP (or Minimum Viable Product) in hand.
Product Management Canvas
The Product Management Canvas also describes – what needs to be built, in what order and with what features. This not only puts technology at the core of the product’s successful journey but also emphasizes how product organization needs to come together, to build the product, the right way.
Given the fluidity of the market and technology space, the continuously evolving framework on product management is an apt ‘back to basics’ approach, that should benefit the seasoned and the eager product managers.