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Top Tools And Techniques For A Better Product Vision and Discovery

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06th May, 2024
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    Top Tools And Techniques For A Better Product Vision and Discovery

    Understanding the customer needs and developing a product that helps fulfill those needs defines the usability of the product. With varied perceptions of the underlying problems, assumptions over customer behavior and cognitive bias for a solution, it may get cumbersome to determine the right product that delivers value.

    To develop a usable product, it is important for all involved in product discovery to collaborate and develop a common vision, strategic goals and shared understanding. A meaningful product discovery helps to map problems to potential solutions and potential solutions to expected results.

    In this article, we will discover ways that can help teams determine the key objectives and develop a common vision for the product.

    What is Product Discovery?  

    Product discovery is an essential phase in the product development lifecycle. It’s not just about coming up with an idea for a product. Product discovery dives into understanding the needs and desires of the target audience. This phase gathers insights and validates assumptions to guide the development of a successful product.

    During the product discovery process, teams engage in thorough research, exploration, and validation of ideas. They conduct market research to understand the current landscape, identify trends, and evaluate competition. Additionally, they interact with potential users and stakeholders to gain a deep understanding of their needs, pain points, and aspirations.

    What Are Product Discovery Techniques?  

    Product discovery techniques are various methods and tools used to gather insights and validate assumptions during the product development process. These techniques help teams understand user behavior, market trends, and the competitive landscape. By applying a range of product discovery methods, such as customer journey mapping, usability tests, A/B tests, and competitor analysis, teams can make informed decisions and iterate on product ideas. These techniques allow for the collection of data and feedback that shape the product's direction, features, and user experience. 

    What is continuous product discovery?

    Continuous product discovery is an iterative approach to product development that emphasizes ongoing learning and adaptation. It involves continuously gathering customer feedback, analyzing market trends, and testing assumptions throughout the product's lifecycle. Rather than treating product discovery as a one-time event, continuous discovery enables teams to stay connected with their target audience, identify evolving needs, and make data-driven decisions to improve the product. By embracing continuous product discovery, organizations foster a culture of learning and innovation, constantly refining their products based on real-time insights and market feedback. It allows for agility, flexibility, and the ability to respond to changing market dynamics effectively. 

    Why Use Product Discovery Techniques? 

    Using product discovery techniques is crucial for several reasons: 

    1. Customer-Centric ApproachProduct discovery techniques help teams gain a deep understanding of customer needs, pain points, and preferences. By empathizing with users, teams can develop products that address real problems and deliver value, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

    2. Minimize RiskProduct discovery techniques allow teams to validate assumptions and test ideas early on. This helps minimize the risk of building products that may not meet user expectations or market demands. By gathering insights and feedback throughout the discovery process, teams can make informed decisions and iterate on their product concepts. 

    3. Improve Decision-Making: Product discovery techniques provide valuable data and insights that inform decision-making. By conducting usability tests, A/B tests, and customer interviews, teams can gather quantitative and qualitative feedback to guide their product development journey. This enables them to make data-driven decisions, prioritize features, and allocate resources effectively. 

    4. Stay CompetitiveProduct discovery techniques help teams stay informed about market trends, customer preferences, and competitors' offerings. By conducting competitor analysis and market research, teams can identify opportunities and differentiate their products from the competition. This allows organizations to stay ahead in the market and deliver innovative solutions. 

    Product Discovery Process and Techniques

    1. Customer Journey Mapping

    Customer journey mapping is a technique used to visualize and understand the end-to-end experience of customers as they interact with a product or service. It involves mapping out the various touchpoints, actions, emotions, and pain points that users go through during their journey. By creating a comprehensive customer journey map, teams can identify opportunities to improve the user experience, uncover areas of friction, and align their product development efforts with customer needs. 

    2. Usability Tests

    Usability tests involve observing and gathering feedback from users as they interact with a product or prototype. It aims to evaluate the ease of use, effectiveness, and overall user satisfaction with the product. Usability tests typically involve creating specific tasks for users to perform while capturing their actions, observations, and feedback. This technique helps teams identify usability issues, improve the user interface, and enhance the overall user experience. 

    3. A/B Tests

    Also referred to as split tests, this test compares two or more versions of a product or feature to determine which one performs better. You can compare matrices like user engagement, conversion rates, or other key metrics. By randomly dividing users into different groups and presenting them with different variations, teams can collect quantitative data and insights to guide decision-making. A/B tests enable teams to optimize product features, designs, or messaging based on user preferences and behaviors. 

    4. Demand Tests

    Demand tests involve assessing the market demand for a product or feature before investing significant resources in its development. This technique helps teams gauge potential customer interest, validate assumptions, and gather feedback. Demand tests can take the form of surveys, landing pages, or pre-orders to measure interest and collect data on potential adoption rates. By conducting demand tests, teams can make informed decisions about prioritizing features or even pivoting their product strategy based on market demand. 

    5. Story Mapping

    Story mapping is a visual technique that helps teams prioritize and plan product features and user stories. It involves creating a chronological narrative of the user's journey through the product, highlighting key features and their dependencies. Story mapping enables teams to have a holistic view of the product and make informed decisions about feature development and iteration. 

    6. Competitor Analysis 

    Competitor analysis involves researching and analyzing the products, strategies, and market positioning of competitors. By studying competitors, teams can identify gaps in the market, understand industry trends, and benchmark their own products against the competition. Competitor analysis provides valuable insights for product differentiation, identifying unique selling points, and making informed decisions about feature development and marketing strategies. 

    7. Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD)

    Jobs-to-be-Done is a framework that focuses on understanding the underlying motivations and needs of customers when using a product. It involves identifying the "jobs" or tasks that customers are trying to accomplish and understanding the context, motivations, and desired outcomes associated with those jobs. By using the JTBD framework, teams can align their product development efforts with customer needs, create compelling value propositions, and prioritize features that address customers' underlying goals. 

    8. MVP Development

    MVP (Minimum Viable Product) development involves creating a basic version of a product with the core features required to solve a specific problem and deliver value to customers. The MVP is then tested and validated with real users to gather feedback and insights. This iterative approach allows teams to learn from user feedback, refine the product, and avoid building unnecessary features. MVP development is a lean and efficient way to validate product-market fit and iterate based on real user data. 

    By leveraging these product discovery techniques, teams can gather insights, validate assumptions, prioritize features, and create products that meet user needs and drive business success. Each technique serves a specific purpose and contributes to a comprehensive product discovery process. 

    Opportunity Canvas: Detailed Explanation
    Opportunity canvas

    Created by Jeff Patton, author of the book “User Story Mapping” and inspired by Marty Cagan’s work on the Opportunity Assessment template, the Opportunity Canvas is an exploration and collaboration tool that brings all related information in a single canvas view. Be it a product idea, a new feature in your existing product or a problem with an unexplored solution, the opportunity canvas enables you to collaborate, discuss and assess the opportunity at hand.

    Opportunity
    When to use it?

    Opportunity canvas is useful at the time of product discovery. In your quest to explore and develop an understanding of certain business processes and customer needs, opportunity canvas can be a great starting point. As a product discovery tool, the opportunity canvas could be drawn on a whiteboard or printed on a sheet, as convenient. The ideas could be filled in with sticky notes, pictures, workflow, and text.

    Who should be involved?

    Anyone who can contribute to the opportunity and product discovery. In case you are following the Scrum framework, this could be represented as an interaction between the Product owner, development team and any other invited Stakeholders.

    How to use it?

    Decide a place, a few markers, sticky notes, papers, a whiteboard, and all that you need to express your thoughts. Bring in the people who could contribute or hold a stake in your solution and begin from the first section till the end, as indicated in the canvas template. If you have drawn the opportunity canvas on a bigger board, you can paste your sticky notes.
    The below infographic shows the product roadmap to deliver a high-quality product successfully.

    canvas template
    Section 1: Start with a problem or the idea
    You have a problem to solve that may be impeding your business; manual work, product issues, inefficient processes, customer retention & growth challenges or disruptive competition. Start with it.

    Section 2: Users and Customers
    Identify users and customers; describe the challenges that you are trying to address through this opportunity. The user and customers can either be the same group of people or different, depending on the product. In general, customers are users who pay a cost for certain desired services, e.g., premium accounts, unlike users who may be interested in basic or free offerings.
    Identify the type of users and their distinct goals.
    Section 3: What solutions exist today?
    Discover what happens today. How users are working around the given problem. This will highlight the limitations of the current solution, and as you discover this, you may come across more problems that may be hampering your customers
    Section 4: Business Challenges
    The challenges faced by users and customers are likely to impact your business. Persistent issues may disengage the users from your product and services. They may open opportunities for competition, which is a risk of losing business.
    In the case of manual and time-consuming repeatable efforts to serve customer needs, your staff may be constantly engaged in firefighting and have little opportunity to innovate and improve; it’s a growth risk. Discover how different challenges faced by customers are hurting your business.
    Section 5. How will users use your solution?
    As you discuss the problems and challenges or ponder upon an idea, you will discover potential solutions. In this section, think about how the user will interact with this potential solution. How will this solution impact user behavior? And how do you expect users to benefit from it?
    Section 6. User Metrics
    How do you know if a given solution works well or not? Defining user metrics will help set objectives to measure the usability of the product. Based on the user behavior as gathered in Section 5 above, think about the indicators that will help measure the degree of acceptance of your solution. How will you know that users find value in your solution?
    For example:

    • You may want to know if your product is engaging the customers, i.e., indicated by how much time they spend on your product and if they revisit or;
    • If the lead time of a customer request will significantly reduce by using your product, i.e., time spent to complete a task vs. expected time in a future state with your solution

    Section 7. Adoption Strategy
    Think about how customers will discover your solution. What channels may draw customers to your product? For instance, it could be either referrals from existing customers or marketing through media. If your solution is for internal usage of the organization, think about how you will help users to migrate from their existing methods to a new solution.

    Section 8. Business benefits and metrics
    Once the users have adopted your solution, what impact is it likely to make on your business? And what are the parameters to measure that? The solution may be expected to generate outcomes like direct revenue growth through an increase in customer base or remedy a loss-making business process.

    Section 9: Budget
    This section helps you evaluate and compare the proposed solution to any alternatives based on economic feasibility. What are the implications of not addressing the problem? If the proposed solution is applied, what benefits it may bring to business in monetary terms? What budget may an organization allocate to experiment, learn and validate any assumptions about the proposed solution?
    At the end of this exercise, you may expect some of the following outcomes

    • A high-level roadmap for your product
    • A Shared understanding of the problem and solution
    • Strategic goals for the business
    • Identified users and customers
    • Alternative approaches
    • A vision of a solution

    Once you have gathered your thoughts and have developed a shared understanding, it’s useful to summarize it and form a vision that the group can stick to and look up to in the course of building the solution.

    Vision statement

    A concise, compelling and unambiguous vision helps the team to remain focused on its product goals. A vision should define the product objectives, its intended customers, value proposition and differentiating factor from the competitor’s product or a predecessor product or workflow that you intend to replace.
    Template

    format
    Target customer
    Define the target customer for your product. If you have used an opportunity canvas to explore your users and customers, those will go here.
    Problem
    Summarize the core challenges faced by the customer.
    Product name
    Write the name of the product. You don’t need to spend too much time choosing a name at the beginning. Just put an identifier codename.
    Product category
    Define the type of the product. A website or a mobile application or service, as applicable.

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    Key benefits
    Mention the key features of your product that align with the value desired by the target customers.
    Alternative
    Name and comparable feature of a product that you are competing against. In case your product is meant for internal consumption and replaces either a manual process or a legacy application, describe that here.
    Key difference
    Express how your product is different from the competition and highlight the benefits.

    Conclusion

    The product discovery phase is a vital process for developing successful products that meet customer needs and drive business growth. By understanding the market, gathering user insights, and validating assumptions, teams can make informed decisions and create products that deliver value. In summary, the tools like Opportunity Canvas and Vision Statement help all involved in product discovery to identify customers and define key objectives and measurable outcomes through collaboration and shared understanding. The opportunity canvas takes you on a journey to explore and discover the challenges and solutions and helps you define a product roadmap. The vision statements, on the other hand, let you summarize your key objectives in a concise, unambiguous way to keep you focused.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1How do you develop product discovery techniques?

    Developing product discovery techniques involves a combination of research, experimentation, and collaboration. It requires understanding user research methodologies, staying updated on industry trends, and fostering a user-centered mindset within the team. Regularly testing and refining techniques based on feedback and results is also essential for continuous improvement.

    2What is the product discovery process in Agile?

    Agile discovery techniques involve continuous exploration, validation, and iteration. It begins with understanding the problem and identifying user needs, followed by ideation, prototyping, and user testing. This iterative process allows teams to gather feedback, make informed decisions, and refine their product direction based on user insights.

    3What are the 5 tools of discovery?

    The five tools of product discovery examples include customer interviews, surveys, usability tests, A/B tests, and competitor analysis. These tools enable teams to gather qualitative and quantitative data, understand user preferences, validate assumptions, and gain insights into the market landscape.

    Profile

    Lindy Quick

    Blog Author

    Lindy Quick, SPCT, is a dynamic Transformation Architect and Senior Business Agility Consultant with a proven track record of success in driving agile transformations. With expertise in multiple agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban, Lindy has led impactful transformations across diverse industries such as manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. Lindy's exceptional communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills have earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor. Currently associated with KnowledgeHut and upGrad, Lindy fosters Lean-Agile principles and mindset through coaching, training, and successful execution of transformations. With a passion for effective value delivery, Lindy is a sought-after expert in the field.

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