Articles Business and Entrepreneurship

Airtract Sofiur Rahaman Product Manager at CBRE - Digital & Technology, India

The ever elusive chase of building the perfect product! 12 May, 2020   

Every once in a while I wonder if the product that I build just meets my end-users’ needs or do they invoke a sense of ‘delight’ in them. How do I measure the success of a product — should it be a product built right or should it just be a ‘right product’ built?

I guess I will never have an absolute answer to it. However, having built a handful of software products, I realized that I have never been able to build a ‘perfect’ product. In fact, I never tried to build one because I believe, perfection in today’s highly ‘uncertain’ and ‘dynamic’ business environment is a luxury that no business can afford.

What I rather try to do is build products that solve real problems, and that perhaps, is the most difficult thing to figure out. Plunging into the development of a product without intensive ‘market research’ and ‘understanding of the frustration and pain of customers’ but rather on our instinct and experience is nothing short of a financial suicide.

According to a research by Gartner Inc., less than 0.01 percent consumer mobile apps were considered financial successes by the end of 2018. In today’s environment where all activities are slowly switching to the push of buttons on mobile devices, and with over 3.5 billion smart phone users, why is it that most of the products (mobile applications, to be more specific) fail?

Although there would be many others, I am listing down some of the common mistakes which lead to the failure of a product:

  1. Wrong interpretation of the problem: Most product managers start by gathering market data and try to figure out a gap/ problem and figure out a solution based on their understanding of the problem statement. How the data is analyzed plays a major role in rolling out the solution. If the analysis is wrong, the product is doomed to fail because of the dissonance in ‘Product — Market fit’.
  2. Delayed delivery of working software and not enough consumer feedback: This is one of the biggest reason for the success or failure of a product. If you wish to succeed, fail fast and fail early (in fact, faster than your competition) and that is possible only when you gather feedback frequently and directly from the horse’s mouth i.e. the product’s target users. In the book ‘Lean Startup’, Eric Ries describes how he managed to build a successful product by ‘listening’ to his consumers and building a product that they wanted.
  3. Lack of courage to pivot: One of the most difficult decision for a Product Manager is to decide whether to ‘Persevere’ or ‘Pivot’. Such decisions should be based on data and not on instinct. A right decision on time not only saves thousands of man-hours but also hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  4. Crappy product: Only if building a product that solves a real problem were enough, many of the investors would be minting money. Many a times, we forget to gather data on the difficulty faced by our end users in using our application. No one would want to use a crappy piece of software twice.

Now that we know what some of the causes for the failure of a product are, do we have a ‘panacea’? The answer, unfortunately is no. However, we can increase our chances of building a successful product by practicing and inculcating a couple of business rules. So what are they? Now, that’s a discussion that we will have in my next article.

Do you agree to my opinion? What kind of challenges have you faced in building a successful product? Do share your thoughts.

Photo Credits: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0070/7032/files/How_to_Find_Products_to_Sell_Online_and_What_to_Sell_Online.jpg?634

#ProductManagement #DecisionMaking #Pivot or Persevere #Agile #Scrum #Hypothesis Validation

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