Product management is broadly a triad of disciplines – Business strategy, Technology, and UX. Of these, UX tends to be the most misunderstood and even ignored. This may be in large part because of it’s relative newness as a discipline compared to the others. Most Product Managers have had much less exposure to it as compared to the other disciplines.
UX as a discipline is unique when compared to the other two disciplines which tend to be far more analytical. It requires embracing the uncertainty of user behaviour and working through all the permutations of triggers to get the desired result. The effort alone makes it tempting to ignore and make PMs want to put this into a ‘too hard’ basket.
However, the dangers of ignoring UX in a holistic Product design approach tends to creates a wobbly two-legged stool where Product direction is determined solely by Business strategy and technology. In a few cases, this approach may work especially when testing a MVP, however long term this isn’t sustainable. Products conceived and run without a good UX strategy are guaranteed to fail against competitors that have a much superior UX because they simply won’t be able to deliver to a users expectations. Users are now more savvy of products and will gravitate towards products solely because they offer a better UX.
The good news is UX has has begun to get far more visibility and acceptance than ever before as more companies have increasingly begun to recognise the competitive advantage of having a strong UX strategy. The bad news is PMs are still unsure of how to leverage UX for Product design.
The combination of a great UX and allied Product design is the secret sauce to building great customer engagement. Unfortunately UX reports compiled after weeks of work by UX researchers tend to remain hidden away in PDFs or Confluence documentation because of the lack of awareness of how to translate the UX researchers into Product features. A powerful tool to address this disconnect is the Value Proposition canvas.
The Value Proposition Canvas
The Value Proposition canvas attempts to align customer needs with the features and services that a Product has been built to deliver. The Value Proposition canvas seeks to match elements between two segments from a strategy canvas.
The Customer segment portion on the right includes, Jobs to be done, Pain points and Gains of a user. The Value proposition on the left portion includes Products & Services, Pains relievers and Gain creators on the left hand side. The more the alignment between individual elements between the two segments the better a Product fit with it’s users needs.
How to use the Value proposition canvas
Try this exercise with a cross functional team across PM / Dev / UX / Marketing and Sales, the broader the better. The insights you can gather from a cross functional team can be fantastic so leverage this resource well. Print a large copy of the Value proposition canvas, each canvas should be for one persona type. Begin enlisting Post-it’s for each half of the canvas as below starting with the right side which is the Customer segment. As a rule I generally use the Marketing and Sales teams to go over the right portion which is the Customer segment portion and PM / Dev to go over the left side. This keeps the team manageable but more importantly focuses on a distinct mindset for each portion Customer versus Value Prop. This helps to create a more efficient process and much better outcome. Leave the canvas so teams can begin to see the fleshing out of the process and begin to see the alignment.
The Customer segment
Start with the Customer segment to the right. Use the UX research team, the personas from a user research report and your marketing and sales teams to flesh this section out as they will have most information about the information in this section.
Enlist on a Post it every major and minor job you intend to help your customer to get done.
Create a post it for every benefit your user expects or desires.
Create a Post it for every pain your user experiences, before, during or after getting a job done.
The Value Proposition segment
Once the Customer segment is completed, it’s now time to start enlisting the Value Proposition. As a PM you should already have a good grasp of the Product value proposition, however it would be good to involve your development / innovation team for this part of the chart.
Products & Services
List all the Products & Services your product is built around.
List all products and services that provide value to your customer.
List all products and services that fixes your customer pain points.
While performing this exercise try to find as many matching alignments between the Customer Segment and the Value Proposition segment. The more the alignment, the greater the Product fit. Don’t be tempted to try and align every Gain or Pain. Aim to deliver on the ones that are most applicable to you and your user from a Product Strategy perspective.
Distinguish between existing alignments that already exist and future improvements by using different coloured Post-its. What will emerge is a Product Roadmap of features that will make a significant alignment with what your users want. Watch the video to see how this works.