With fall comes the time to set goals for the coming year and to reflect on what you would like to have accomplished when you think back to those goals. There are KPIs to achieve and roadmap goals, but there are also behaviors that product management leaders must guide to ensure growth in the years to come. Below are three recommendations to consider as you develop your annual plan. These topics and recommendations are detailed in our report, Product Management: Planning Assumptions 2022.

Encourage Product Managers To Look Broadly At Customer Problems

Product managers and leaders often jump into problem-solving mode before they truly understand customer problems. The first solution to a problem — or opportunity — is rarely the best, however, and a deeper analysis can often yield better solution options.

We recommend that teams take a more structured approach to understanding complex situations by first describing the problem and clearly articulating what success will look like when the problem is solved. Both should be done from the customer’s perspective — ideally from the buyer and user viewpoints. A complete problem statement includes a description of the problem, including evidence and examples; the audience the problem applies to; the impact of the problem; and the positive and negative business outcomes that may result from solving the problem. Importantly, the customer problem statement must include the value — both economic and non-economic — of solving the problem.

Consider Elements Of The Broader Product Experience When Addressing Problems And Opportunities

Along with a deeper definition of customer problems comes a broader definition of the product. Forrester recommends that product managers analyze customer data and engage regularly with customers to identify obstacles they face in gaining more value from the offering. Practice continuous product discovery to try out new ideas beyond those pertaining to the offering itself, including value-added products, customer education, and other supporting opportunities that will drive value.

When product management teams take responsibility for the broader product experience — including trials, onboarding, and supporting services — they are likely to deliver more customer value. For example, if customers are not gaining the full expected value of an offering, adding features or new capabilities might not necessarily be helpful. A deeper look into the problem and an understanding of the outcomes customers are seeking might reveal a better option. For example, improving customer adoption through the addition of improved onboarding, adoption-driving services such as usage analytics, and user adoption monitoring are better options for providing greater customer value more quickly.

Ensure That Product Managers Are Data-Driven

Product teams are often disconnected from the organization’s strategic objectives and driven by metrics that track activities rather than outcomes. The value provided to customers — not the number of offering releases — should be the focal point for product management objectives. Forrester recommends that product management leaders work toward aligning their initiatives with the strategic goals of the organization and with delivering value to the customer.

This can be done by selecting metrics for success that connect offering usage and engagement to customer outcomes and ultimately to revenue and retention. If this data is not readily available, product managers should be empowered to work cross-functionally with revenue operations, sales operations, and finance to assemble the data. Product management leaders must sponsor efforts to mechanize the process for creating product dashboards that track both lagging and leading indicators for offering value with an understanding of how this leads to business success.

In 2022, product leaders should seek to define and measure buyer value and focus on measuring and celebrating the delivery of positive customer outcomes. Reach out to us to learn how you can access our full report for a deeper dive.