Product Requirements That Amplify Your Customer Needs [+Webinar]
Identify the Insights
Recently, we explored using Voice of the Customer techniques to better understand your customers’ needs, find “moments of truth,” and identify how your product can help them along their customer journey. Now, how do you take the insights that you gathered during this process and convert them into detailed requirements that empower your teams to create truly customer-centric products?
The Fools Gold Rush
Once you have experienced the details of your customer’s problems, the solutions to those problems will come easily to you—it’s tempting to start writing requirements that are solution-focused and have your team start to build those features right away. But this way of working has deep costs—the customer’s view fails to get communicated to the solution teams, thus reducing empathy for the customer, and you’ll drastically reduce innovation by eliminating the many voices necessary to achieve novel solutions. Just as the customer is not the best person to solve their own problems, neither are you, the Product Manager. Your mind is influenced by competitor approaches and you are but one voice where many are called for.
Maybe you’re skeptical of this approach. We hear from many Product Managers that they are “required” by Engineering to write detailed, solution-oriented requirements. This is a classic pitfall in the product management profession, but let us explain why there’s a better way.
Your Job—Empower Your Product Team to be Customer-Centric
“Leaders need to provide strategy and direction and to give employees the tools that enable them to gather information and insight from around the world. Leaders shouldn’t try to make every decision.”
— Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft
Designers, architects, and engineers study and practice their art because these are specialist roles and full-time jobs. Our job as the product leader is to communicate customer needs thoroughly and often, while we empower and trust our teams to be the best at what they do. We’re also responsible for ensuring that fulfilling customer needs will also meet our own company’s business objectives. We do that by creating a profitable product strategy focused on solving the right problems, and providing detailed, prioritized customer problems that generate empathy and excitement for our customers in our teams. When our team members clearly understand customer problems then you have opened the door for solutions that will delight your customers.
From Customer Insights to Requirements
In our recent webinar, Writing Product Requirements That Amplify Customer Needs, we showed you the tools that Product Managers use to write great requirements for their product teams. We began by framing when and where requirements fit into the overall product process for both Agile and Waterfall processes. We then broke down the key tools that every Product Manager should know to document their customer problems in detail without dictating the solution—both in Agile and Waterfall environments. Finally, we wrapped up with important tips that you can use to influence the designs that come out of your teams to ensure your solutions meet your product strategy needs. Throughout the webinar, we looked at examples and discussed pitfalls in the process that you may encounter, and how to avoid them.
Writing Winning Requirements
It may feel counter-intuitive, but taking the time to invest in a collaborative process with your team rather than driving a blind rush to a solution will yield more creative and exciting results. This approach to writing great product requirements invites you to move thoughtfully, but quickly, in the right direction to success.
In our recent co-hosted AIPMM webinar, we discussed how to gain the upper hand on writing requirements and apply it more effectively to your product execution.
About the Author
Colleen O’Rourke is a Principal Consultant/Trainer at 280 Group.
Colleen has 20 years of experience in the technology business, working in engineering as well as program and product management in startups to Fortune 500 companies. Colleen’s diverse experience includes complex CAD software platforms, project management SAAS systems, and hardware products and consumables manufactured in the US. 280 Group is the world’s leading Product Management training and consulting firm. We help companies and individuals do GREAT Product Management and Product Marketing using our Optimal Product Process™.