We may be stuck at home but that didn’t stop over 2000 enthusiastic product pioneers from joining us for the Product-Led Festival on June 2-4.
We had some awesome presentations, panels and roundtables but the fun didn’t stop there as our Slack channel was alive with Q&A.
We’ve pulled out some of the top questions and answers to share with the community. Check ‘em out below…. And if you’d like to continue the conversation be sure to check out the #plg-questions channel on the PLA Slack.
Alexandra Lung, Head of Product, Aircall & Jessica Gantier, Senior Product Designer, Adobe opened the festival with a bang 💥 with their joint presentation on Leading Fast Innovations: 10 shades of MVP…..
Q: I am curious as to "ABC tests"... each option on the variable in the test complicates the test but may give an information value trade-off. Do you feel that there is a sweet spot of how many options or set of criteria to determine whether to go AB, ABC or ABCDE?
I think the focus should be on what you want to learn and not try to learn everything from one test either. I usually do not encourage going for more than 3 options as more options we add, the harder the test and the decisions will be. The 3 options we were talking about worked well in an 'entry point' for the user and worked really well...some other cases like critical wording, for example, could work for abc but I won't go to d, e etc
Alexandra Lung, Aircall
The more options you test, the more complicated and costly the test will be. Repeating what Alex just said basically but I think it's important that all versions focus on 1 variable pattern. If you test too many things at the same time, you won't be able to know why x version performed better. Regarding the number of variations: it depends on how costly each options are.
Jessica Gantier, Adobe
Later on, Paolo Lacche, Head of Product Management at Kiwi.com took to the virtual stage to talk about product discovery at scale
Q: Any tips for stakeholder management as a PM in a bigger organization?
I would start with including as many stakeholders as possible in the discovery flow, starting from the decision-makers (so let's call it decision-making) and extending it to as many as you can, at least on an informative basis (this is the actual stakeholder management part)
Another tip for big companies is that each feature tends to have different stakeholders, so what I do is I require PMs to keep a stakeholder map for each of the high-level features (or Epics) in order to keep track of that.
Last but not least, don't forget that in a larger organization things take usually more time to happen, so it's great to actually involve every stakeholder as early as possible in your features, to give them time to work on their things i.e. to create a marketing campaign, or a new UI flow. Usually PMs tend to overlook this part and involve the stakeholder only when needed, as if people could always react just in time.
Paolo Lacche, Kiwi.com
Founder of Heap, Ravi Parikh shared his view on the value of product insights.
Q: Many people think ‘data = great products’ …. But what our team struggle with is identifying the right data to focus on.. there’s just so much available. How do you separate signal from noise?
This is tough and I think it's equal parts art and science. The process I advocate for looks something like this:
1) there's an exploration phase when you're not quite sure what you're looking for. This might mean "digging around" data, conducting user interviews, watching session recordings, etc. At this point it might feel like there's a ton of noise and not a lot of signal, but that's OK. All the noise at this point is helping you form a deeper mental model of your customer experience.
2) Ideally through this process you should be able to articulate concrete, testable, hypotheses about your customer experience. For example, something like "users aren't making it to the end of this form because Question 3 is confusing and causes them to exit the form."
3) The hypothesis should be specific enough where you can tell what data, and possibly what kind of AB test, would be required to test that hypothesis. This is where you should be able to get concrete about what is the "signal" and ignore all the "noise" that's irrelevant to the hypothesis at hand. If it's unclear, then your hypothesis might be phrased too vaguely.
Also I've broken these down into "phases" but the reality is that it's not a straight linear flow, it's more likely you're doing all of these things all the time about various facets of your product.
Ravi Parikh, Heap
Day 2 saw a lively morning with Dr Oliver Oechslien, CPO, GetNow and John Robert Fritzsch, Global Program Manager Digital Commerce, Wacker Chemie sharing how lean or user-centric development receives a whole new value in unpredictable times (like.. Right now)
Q: Any recommendations for how to innovate at this pace at scale in a big organization with lots of red tape?
From my experience, it is key to define a joint vision in big organizations first. This vision should be defined from a customer-centric view. Once you have a buy in to the vision, the rest will follow.
John Robert, Wacker Chemie
From my perspective. Next to the vision, trying to define a common understanding of an MVP is key. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems at corporates is that they want to build the car first. If you find a common understanding of how the skateboard should look like, you will get another buy-in (of course you have to prove, that you’re doing some evaluation with the MVP outcome…)
Dr Oliver Oechslien, GetNow
In addition to the customer interviews we conducted interviews with key internal users of the system in parallel. By that, you get a pretty good idea on what is valued in the company and may define a more relevant vision for your stakeholders. Moreover, you should keep the key strategic priorities of the company in mind. If you are able to connect your product to one of them, you mostly will accelerate the process
John Robert, Wacker Chemie
Apurva Garware, Director, Product Management at Chegg gave a fantastic and well-illustrated presentation on blending product and business success with the right goals
Q: As a product manager, what techniques would you recommend for measuring value of features released within a couple of scrum (2 week) cycles? Looking for smart ways balance prioritizing high-value work and with a busy overhead of measuring KPI / outcomes. Suggestions?
I usually go with a High/Medium/Low estimate that’s based on exposure, possible impact and confidence. I don’t go into detailed sizing till there’s alignment on the big areas and priorities with this directional impact sizing
Apurva Garware, Chegg
On Day 3 Alex Tarrand, CPO, Dreamteam enlightened us on how to orchestrate a product pivot
Q: At what point in the product's ‘life’ did you realize a pivot was needed? And, did leadership recognize the need for a change of strategy, even to the degree of pivoting, before they brought you in; or did you have to bring them around to that need?
We were fairly young. The front end had matured past the MVP phase and we had spent significant marketing dollars to scale. Seeing the return on ad spend from those dollars gave us pause, after evaluating the user funnel we decided we needed to make a change. All in we started planing the pivot after 1.5 years of the product being live. Leadership was metric savvy and knew some of big KPIs needed to change, however, their focus was to iterate the current product to success. It took some convincing, for both the leadership team and the investors
Alex Tarrand, Dreamteam
Adrik Mcllroy, CPO, Zen discussed the 5 ingredients for new product success and how to make yourself attractive to enterprise buyers
Q: Do you think there are any other essential ingredients that investors will look for since the COVID outbreak?
COVID has really changed what’s normal. What I’m seeing are shifts in attention, so demos are changing to be compatible with social distancing and online interaction. and short-term thinking is giving a lot of focus to biotech and work from home. Longer-term, however, I’m seeing the fundamentals of perception, attention, and credibility remain the same - even if that does mean tearing up all your slides to fit the new context
Adrik Mcllroy, Zen
One of our closing sessions came fro Nishaat Vasi, Group PM, Zipcar who shared the challenges of forward-thinking with a platform product
Q: In a technology-intensive exercise such as this, are your product owners experienced in business operations or technology?
While it’s a plus to have operations exposure or a s/w background, the PM’s I’ve seen succeed tend to have a clear ‘what’s the outcome we are driving toward’ mindset, and can clearly represent user intent/pain in their user-stories.
In the platform overhaul, as a PM I’m still trying to optimize the subscription funnel by solving for an end-user need. The overhaul (although tech focused) is a nice excuse to disband old/existing ways of doing things / running operations and maybe come up with a user experience that’s very different.
For example - someone gave you a pre-built but shaky lego castle, and you demolish and rebuild a better version (still a castle, but now maybe it has a moat for protection)
Nishaat Vasi, Zipcar
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! And as mentioned be sure to check out the PLA Slack to engage with like-minded product people and keep these conversations going! Product progress is made with people 🤓