Sometimes I have thoughts on things. Occasionally, I write them down. These are those things.
The product team's mandate is to direct the efficient creation of value in accordance with company strategy and product strategy.
Direct: A PM is not the mini-CEO of the product. Most PMs don't have the authority to hire or fire engineers or designers or set company or product strategy the way a CEO would. A more useful analogy is to that of a movie director. The PM's role is to direct the team by:
- setting the scene (providing context),
- guiding the team's efforts, and
- bringing out the best performance of each teammate.
Efficient creation of value: For each product or feature a team contemplates undertaking, they should develop answers to the following:
Provided they pass the threshold test, features hypothesized to have the greatest impact on product or company goals with the lowest cost should be prioritized. Additional prioritization criteria include the level of confidence in the hypothesis, and the cost of delay.
- Threshold Test: Does solving this problem move us closer to achieving one or more company or product objectives?
- What problem(s) does this solve for the user and/or the business?
- What is our hypothesis about how much value solving this problem will bring to the user and the company?
- How much will it cost to solve this problem?
In accordance with company strategy and product strategy: The PM working at the indvivdual contributor level often doesn't have input into the creation of company or product strategy. The product strategy serves as the framework for the creation of tactics--the objectives to be accomplished in the next 3 to 12 months, which set the framework within which the IC PM operates. Regardless of which goal-setting system the company uses (SMART, CLEAR, OKRs, etc.), all projects should tie directly back to one or more of these objectives.
Example: Consider the video conferencing giant, Zoob, who uses OKRs. One component of Zoob's product strategy is to become the #1 provider of paid video conferencing services in the US. Zoob has translated this component of its strategy into an objective it aims to tackle in the next 12 months: To convince users to switch from Boogle's Hey There! product, Zoob's biggest competitor. A key result for this objective is a 10% increase in Zoob's market share with a corresponding decrease of at least 5% in Hey There!'s market share.
Brie, a Product Marketing Manager at Zoob, knows that the company's paid product has a killer feature that Hey There! lacks: the ability to use AI to add summaries with timestamps and links to recorded meetings. Brie discusses the idea of adding this feature to the free version of Zoob for a limited time with her colleague, Lexi, a PM working on the free version of the product. Lexi is excited about the idea and she writes up the following one-page Product Spec to act as a conversation starter to discuss the idea with the rest of her team and her manager:
Product Spec: Add AI Summaries + Links to Free Product for a Limited Time
Team: Free Version, Team #2
Created: August 3, 2023
Last Edited: August 3, 2023
Document Owner: Lexi Lewis
Which Key Result(s) will we impact by solving this problem?
- Increase our market share by 10% by the end of 2023.
- Increase paid subscriptions by 20% by the end of 2023.
Who are the target users?
Users of the free version of the app, including new users who may be switching from a competitor.
What are the desired outcomes for target users?
Giving users access to the AI Summaries + Links feature will allow users to quickly review meetings they did not attend, saving them time and giving them more freedom in their schedules, while still allowing them to stay informed.
What are the desired outcomes for the business?
- Increase in market share. Getting Hey There! users to try Zoob. Even if they do not convert to the paid version of Zoob at the end of the trial period, we believe that by getting them to try Zoob, they will appreciate the improved call quality and the convenience of our user experience enough to switch from Hey There!, thereby increasing our overall market share.
- Increase in paid subscriptions. Show all free users the power and convenience of the AI Summaries + Links feature to convince them to convert to the paid version of Zoob at the end of the free trial period.
What is the value hypothesis?
- Users will have more freedom in their schedules and will be better able to stay informed of what has happened in meetings they could not attend.
- For the business, our research indicates:
- ~25% of Hey There! users who use the free version of Zoob for 3 or more calls will continue using Zoob
- ~20% of users who use the AI Summaries + Links feature at least three times will convert to the paid version of Zoob
- ~45% of users will use the AI Summaries + Links feature three times in a month
- ~75% of users will use the AI Summaries + Links feature three times in 2 months
What is the estimated cost?
This solution is well-defined. Giving free app users access to the AI Summaries + Links feature for a limited time can be completed within a single sprint. We already have the ability to measure all of the success metrics listed below.
How will we measure success?
- Our market share before, during and after the trial period.
- Hey There!'s market share before, during and after the trial period.
- Count of conversions from free to paid for all free app users.
- Count of conversions from free to paid for free app users who also used the AI Summaries + Links feature.
- Count of new users of the free version of the app during the trial period.
- Count of the number of times the AI Summaries + Links feature was used by free app users.
- DAU/MAU for all free app users.
- DAU/MAU for free app users who downloaded the app after the trial period began.
- DAU/MAU for free app users who accessed the AI Summaries + Links feature at least once.
What is the cost of delay?
We will miss out on the revenue from the additional paid subscriptions and our market share is likely to continue to erode.
What are the constraints and dependencies?
What are the assumptions and what is the experimentation plan?
Assumptions are set forth in the value hypothesis section. All assumptions are based on internal research and testing. No additional testing of assumptions is warranted at this time.
What is the launch plan?
Marketing wants one month to prepare prior to launch. We can develop and test this solution contemporaneously and be ready to launch at the end of one month. We propose an October 1st launch date. Free users will have immediate access to AI Summaries + Links. New users signing up between October 1 and December 31, 2023, will have access to the feature for 60 days following sign up.