Customer-centricity is taking over the world of product management. Businesses across the industry, from the tech giants like Google to the SMEs and startups trying to change the world, are switching to frameworks that focus on the customer’s needs.
The importance of customer-centricity has been pushed into the spotlight thanks to the rise of “software-as-a-service” (SaaS) subscription-based products. These types of products rely on customer retention to be successful, and the best way to retain customers is to listen to them.
The IT sector has recently been adopting product management practices with great success.
Businesses know that a great product manager can make the difference between a successful software launch and a complete failure.
Today, we will look at how vital product management is to software firms and IT departments.
Maybe the better question here is, “Why wouldn’t product management be relevant in IT?”
The software sector is such a competitive marketplace. Just because you have a great product doesn’t mean it will be a success. Product management looks to involve the customer in decision-making processes to ensure that great products address customer needs rather than just being cool.
Businesses need to stay focused on the future to get ahead of the competition. This is especially true for software development because the next big innovation lurks around the corner.
It can be challenging to find an idea that is both innovative and offers value to your customers. For every good idea you have, there may be ten other ideas that don’t go anywhere. Bringing in the user and conversing with them about their wants and needs can uncover ideas and insights your team may never have considered.
No matter how you go about it, product management is about delivering exceptional products. A good product manager will facilitate your teams to work better, both in terms of resource allocation and output quality.
Product managers help devise the right training strategy for both sales and product teams to drive demand for the product. They create product roadmaps that can guide future strategies. And, crucially, product managers do most of the work regarding customer interaction and managing feedback.
The problem with the project-oriented mindset is that it approaches everything from the wrong point of view. Your workflow, the way you evaluate your team’s performance, or even the goals you set are guided by a business-first mentality. This means you can end up delivering products that, despite being technically sound, don’t offer any value to your customers.
Switching to a product-oriented mindset enables teams to view product development from a customer’s perspective, asking key questions such as:
What are our customer’s current pain points?
Is there anything our customer needs, but can’t find elsewhere?
Does this feature add value to the user?
Of course, switching the way you work isn’t a simple task, especially for the more experienced developers. The onus in software development has been on innovation and project-based metrics for many years, even when other sectors have shifted to design thinking and other customer-centric methods. However, while the transition may be bumpy, it’s the first step on the road to better products, happier customers, and larger profits.
Teams using a project-oriented mindset tend to follow the rules and take a safe, established development process. After all, if it’s not broken, why fix it?
The issue is that this mindset is broken.
The tech world has a fairly unique advantage in that they can look to the giants — like Google, Microsoft, Apple — and follow in their footsteps. These incredibly successful companies switched to product and customer-centric practices with excellent results. Using these businesses as an example of where you want to take your team will be a great start in transitioning to a new way of working.
Placing the product and its value to the customer in the center of everything you do, from decision making to testing, will help your team grow. As a product manager, you can empower your team to use creative problem-solving techniques and spend less time focusing on strict guidelines or established ways of working.
Some developers struggle to understand the difference between project and product-led mindsets. Both practices result in a new product, so, understandably, some could be left a little confused by the idea of transitioning from one to the other.
It may help to pose a product mindset as a customer mindset. With a product-oriented mindset, you want to provide value to customers with an ever-evolving, data-driven, continuous evolution, especially with SaaS platforms. This means that you should assess every decision and every feature from a customer’s point of view.
It doesn’t matter which industry you work in or what you want to achieve; you will always have senior management that will try to resist change.
Transforming the way one team works is a difficult enough task as it is. Trying to make that change across the entire organization is even tougher. Yet that’s what needs to happen to feel the full effects of a product mindset.
Such a substantial transformation will take time, effort, and money — three things that put fear into profit-focused management. However, armed with data and use-cases from the biggest tech companies in the world, it won’t take too long to win them over.
To learn more about roadmapping, check out our blog. Once you’re done there, you can head over to your airfocus workspace and get right to work!