I recently found myself advising a customer who was making the transition from dated IT "product" development practices to more nimble, customer-oriented product development practices, processes and team. The transition was not trivial given the years of poorly lamented habits the organization had formed, from the CEO all the way down to the front line. If you have gone through a similar transition, then you know exactly what I am talking about: waterfall development, Sharepoint sites, spreadsheets, requirements lost in the email wilderness, business-driven features, outsourced development, project (not product) managers, a Grand Canyon between business and development, death by committee, fear of failure.... the list goes on.
I could dedicate an entire blog series to small business transition from IT to Product, but today I want to focus on one element that I believe is the key ingredient to a successful transition to product management - stakeholder engagement - and why my team and I believe that ProdPad is a great tool to help drive this engagement.
Product has recently seen an aggressive increase in productivity platforms and standards for the Product Manager. ProdPad is one of these tools. It's like a survival kit for managing the wild wild west of product. You know the drill: surviving those ego-driven executives, center-of-the-world business stakeholders, back-seat product managers, the everything-is-a-priority quagmire, and so on. If you are nodding your head, but have not yet looked into product management communication and productivity tools, then hopefully this will serve as a beachhead for further exploration.
So why ProdPad? Here are five reasons we think ProdPad can help you drive stakeholder adoption and engagement with your product management process, especially if you are a smaller business with limited time, budget and product expertise.
There are a growing number of potentially useful product management tools on the market. They facilitate business strategy, product planning, roadmap creation, idea management and many more useful features to manage and ship product. The challenge is that many of these features are designed to support a user who is assumed to have a strong baseline understanding of product management practices, versus catering to a newly-minted product function in an organization that, for years, perhaps relied on legacy IT practices, processes and tools to create products.
ProdPad has figured out the right mix of product management features with design that caters to an everyday business user. This has proven to be a critical success factor for my team to setup (and coach) our customers when we help them build their first product team. You can check out ProdPad's feature mix here. My favorites are their idea backlog and their approach to roadmap creation.
While we're not entirely crazy about the price points for these emerging product management platforms (in general), ProdPad is trying to strike a balance between price and access that works for a small business product team. Their Basic Level, at $39/mo (annual agreement) or $45/mo (monthly agreement) gives a new product team the right level of features, structure and access to get their product management process off on the right foot from day 1.
ProdPad is technically (still) in open beta, so it is expected that their UX/UI will continue to evolve quite noticeably in the months to come. So far, their commitment to improving the user experience has been noticed by those of us who have been actively providing feedback in their Slack community. Areas that are beginning to shine in their platform are their Product Roadmap, Idea Management and Customer Feedback experiences. While there are other useful features on the platform, we feel that these three features are the perfect trifecta for a young product management team to become effective in order to quickly demonstrate success. The usability between understanding customer needs, organizing and maturing ideas, and having a product plan is critical.
Even as someone who has been in the Product Management arena for over a decade, I often feel lost or overwhelmed by the growing demands placed on a product team, not to mention the explosion of options available to help me manage my team, users and stakeholders. In my work with ProductMaven, we have built empathy for SMBs making the transition to digital, and the struggles they go through when trying to jump from IT to Product to create their first product team.
Platforms like ProdPad are one of many things they need to be juggling every single day, and it's often easy to get lost in the fray. One particular strength of ProdPad has been user support. This is has been evident in their open Slack Community for customers, their routine (and interactive) demos, and their product tour concept.
ProdPad eats their own dog food and uses their product to keep customers (that's us) in the know. You can view their product roadmap and provide feedback while experiencing their product experience first hand.
We hope you weigh all of your options when considering a product management platform no matter how big or small, new or old your product team is. We've seen first-hand how effective they can be if the right one is chosen that fits your needs AND implemented correctly.
If you have any ideas or want to talk about how small businesses are making the transition to digital and product. feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.