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Top Tools And Techniques For A Better Product Vision and Discovery

Understanding the customer needs and developing a product which 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 with determining the key objectives and developing a common vision for the product. Opportunity canvasCreated by Jeff Patton; author of book “User Story Mapping” and inspired by Marty Cagan’s work on 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.When to use it?Opportunity canvas is a 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?Decide a place, a few markers, sticky-notes, papers, 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.Section 1: Start with a problem or the ideaYou 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. OR You have an idea that offers something new to your customers, which they haven’t experienced as yet. You believe your solution idea is disruptive and may change how the things are structured. Start with that.Section 2: Users and CustomersIdentify users and customers; describe their 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 customersSection 4: Business ChallengesThe 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 the user behavior? And how do you expect users to benefit from it?Section 6. User MetricsHow 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 the 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 solutionSection 7. Adoption StrategyThink about how customers will discover your solution. What channels may draw customers to your product. For instance, it could be either referral 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 metricsOnce the users have adopted your solution; what impact is it likely to make to 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: BudgetThis 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 benefit 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 outcomesA high-level roadmap for your productA Shared understanding of the problem and solutionStrategic goals for the businessIdentified users and customersAlternative approachesA vision of a solutionOnce you have gathered your thoughts and have developed a shared understanding, it’s useful to summarize it and form a vision that group can stick and look up to in the course of building the solution.Vision statementA 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 competitor’s product, or a predecessor product or workflow that you intend to replace.The elevator pitch mentioned in Geoffrey Moore’s book “Crossing the Chasm”, is a popular template to define a product vision.TemplateConstituentsTarget customerDefine the target customer for your product. If you have used an opportunity canvas to explore your users and customers, those will go here.ProblemSummarize the core challenges faced by the customer.Product nameWrite the name of the product. You don’t need to spend too much time on choosing a name at the beginning. Just put an identifier codename.Product categoryDefine the type of the product. A website or a mobile application or service, as applicable.Key benefitsMention the key features of your product that align with the value desired by the target customers.AlternativeName 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 differenceExpress how your product is different from the competition and highlight the benefits.ExampleSummaryIn summary, the tools like Opportunity canvas and Vision statement help all involved in product discovery to identify customers, define key objectives and measurable outcomes through collaboration and shared understanding. The opportunity canvas takes you through a journey to explore and discover the challenges and solutions, and helps you define a product roadmap. The vision statements, on the other hand, lets you summarize your key objectives in a concise, unambiguous way to keep you focused.Hope you enjoyed reading the article. Please share your views and feedback.

Top Tools And Techniques For A Better Product Vision and Discovery

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Top Tools And Techniques For A Better Product Vision and Discovery

Understanding the customer needs and developing a product which 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 with determining the key objectives and developing a common vision for the product.
 
Opportunity canvas
Opportunity canvasCreated by Jeff Patton; author of book “User Story Mapping” and inspired by Marty Cagan’s work on 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.

OpportunityWhen to use it?

Opportunity canvas is a 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?

Decide a place, a few markers, sticky-notes, papers, 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 templateSection 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.
 
OR
 
You have an idea that offers something new to your customers, which they haven’t experienced as yet. You believe your solution idea is disruptive and may change how the things are structured. Start with that.

Section 2: Users and Customers

Identify users and customers; describe their 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 the 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 the 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 referral 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 to 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 benefit 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 group can stick 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 competitor’s product, or a predecessor product or workflow that you intend to replace.

The elevator pitch mentioned in Geoffrey Moore’s book “Crossing the Chasm”, is a popular template to define a product vision.

Template
formatConstituents

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 on 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.

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.

Example
exampleSummary

In summary, the tools like Opportunity canvas and Vision statement help all involved in product discovery to identify customers, define key objectives and measurable outcomes through collaboration and shared understanding. The opportunity canvas takes you through a journey to explore and discover the challenges and solutions, and helps you define a product roadmap. The vision statements, on the other hand, lets you summarize your key objectives in a concise, unambiguous way to keep you focused.


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Ritesh Mehrotra

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First is to have an experience using the Scrum framework, the second is to have more than five years in one or several of these fields: project or product management, business analysis, software development.10. What is the exam retake policy of the exam?A first retake, meaning a second attempt on the exam, can be done at any moment after a first attempt. In case of a third attempt, candidates have to wait for 10 days and in case of a fourth attempt, they have to wait for 30 days.Leading SAFe® 4.6 Exam preparation SAFe® Agilist Certification exam questionsHere are some of the questions that might be helpful in exam preparation- How to run agile on multiple teams?How to synchronize the work of these teams?How to prioritize organizational demands?How to scale an agile architecture?How to deal with risks in an agile way?Agile and governance, is it possible?Can you highlight the addition and changes in 4-level with 3-level SAFe® 4.0?Can you define a System Team?Can you explain the difference/relationship between a Value Stream and an ART?What is the key to crossing back in forth or connecting the various levels of SAFe®?What is the difference between a Capability and an Epic or Theme?Why would you decentralize decision making? Doesn’t this disempower the product owner or cause confusion about who is the final decision-maker?Are there any reasons that Scrumban would not work with SAFe®?We have some applications that use Scrum delivery practices and some that are milestone driven (waterfall). Can SAFe® 4.0 support both epic and user story management planning, backlog prioritization for Scrum teams, as well as requirements management for our waterfall teams (until they transition to agile)?Some teams may run continuous integrations while others not. How can we balance this if we have a fixed Program Increment timeline?Is SAFe® making it more complex and less agile (e.g., more rigid, additional control)?Exam study materialsKnowledge and skill required by the job role are primarily measured by the exam. In order to prepare well for the exam, candidates can use various online resources like these ones:The course materials are one of the most important components from the course because they offer an opportunity to refer back to the content delivered during the class. All candidates can access to it within the SAFe® Community Platform.The Study guide delivers comprehensive details about the job role and the exam, like a reading list. Here again, it is accessible via the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform.Another element of the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform is the Practice test. It offers predictability of success on the exam because it works with similar time duration and level of difficulty and provides the same number of questions.You can go through the SAFe® sample test that contains 8 questions that will help you in SAFe® 4.6 certification exam preparation.Ways of earning Leading SAFe® 4.6 certificationAttend the courseCourse completion is the first step toward SAFe® certification.Scaled Agile training classes are designed with the learner in mind. Incorporating active learning techniques with a robust role-based curriculum is a great start to the SAFe® learning journey.Receive access to the SAFe® Community Platform after the class, which provides access to study materials & the exam.Study for the examDetailed exam study guides are available to help prepare for the exam and are part of the Learning Plan provided to candidates on the SAFe® Community Platform. Each study guide provides relevant and content-specific exam information, such as the certification role description, prerequisite skills and knowledge, exam objectives, and a comprehensive reading list.Practice tests can help prepare for the exam and are part of the Learning Plan on the SAFe® Community Platform. With a practice test, candidates can ‘test before the test.’ It simulates the actual certification exam in duration, difficulty, and topic area. Passing the practice test does not guarantee to pass the certification exam, but it provides a testing simulation, and the score report can be used to identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Practice tests are available at no additional charge, delivered through the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform, and can be taken as many times as needed. Note that the testers will receive the same bank of questions each time, but the questions will be randomized.Sample tests provide the examples of the type and format of the questions to expect on the certification exam. They are publicly available for all exams under Exam Details on each certification detail page.Leverage experience. It’s more than being book smart. Scaled Agile exams test specific knowledge, skill, experience, and attitudes related to each SAFe® job role. Combining a person’s learning and studying with their real-world experiences is a key to becoming SAFe® Certified.Take the ExamA link to the exam is included in the Learning Plan on the SAFe® Community Platform.Candidates have 30 days after course completion to take the exam at no additional charge. However, once they start the exam, they’ll have a fixed time to complete it.Complete exam information, including exam time limit, number of questions, and a sample test, is available for all the exams under Exam Details on each certification official page.What will you get on passing the SAFe® 4 Agilist exam?Becoming a Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist requires an exceptional range of skills and is a career path for many servant leaders (Scrum Masters). SAFe® 4 Agilist certification includes:Getting the Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist PDF certificateGetting the Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist  digital badge. Any candidate can promote their accomplishment onlineNote: Digital badge permits individuals to share authentic certifications online through email signatures, digital resumes, and social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Digital badging consists of metadata that indicates a Certified SAFe® professional’s qualifications. Scaled Agile has partnered with Acclaim to provide digital versions of SAFe® certifications.Getting one-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform. It also includes access to the SA Community of PracticeGetting access to Meetup groups and events that connect you with other SAFe® certified professionalsNote: SAFe® Meetups provides opportunities to the SAFe® certified across the globe. SAFe® Meetups allows to connect with each other face-to-face, share best practices (sometimes SAFe® experts attend or speak in these sessions to enable learning), and gain knowledge on Scaled Agile Framework in a local setting.Getting access to a variety of learning resources to support you during your SAFe® journey.Summing It UpFor professionals who are looking for career development in the Agile field, SAFe® certification can be the most relevant option today. It gives a guarantee to the companies that they hire individuals with the skills required to scale Agile and a strong knowledge of the SAFe® environment. On top of that, it is important to know that a large majority of big enterprises have implemented SAFe® and that the hunt for SAFe® certified professionals is still very active.
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