Software product development. Course for IT Product Manager
This is a small guide for project managers, product managers, in which we reveal the main issues of the creation and development of your software project.
Introduction to the course
Who is the course destined for?
First of all, for people who plan to create their own product and for those who have already encountered pitfalls of implementation in practice. After studying the product Manager course, you will be able to formulate more clearly how and where to move your product.
The course will also be useful for web project managers who have to work with a weak product Manager on the customer's side. In this case, your additional skills will help to level out the customer's weaknesses and make you a more valuable contractor for them.
Why do we need a course?
My goal is to create a prepared customer who understands what they want and has a clear vision for their product.
Projects mostly fail not because of bad implementation. Often they are initially doomed to failure due to the fact that there is no clear understanding of the product development.
What are we going to consider?
First of all, this is marketing. Whom do we create a product for? Why do they need it? Which role does project close, and so on.
Next is detailing your idea in the form of a product structure.
The course was published on the website https://vc.ru/in December 2019.
Materials for the Product Owner course at the link https://falcon.web-automation.ru/product-owner-docs
You can download and work in Excel with these templates, or create a copy and use Google Spreadsheet (File/Create a copy...).
The template includes the following elements:
- Concept creation template
- Template for working with partners
- customer's Storyboard
- Project structure Template
- Risk Map
- Requirements Management via backlog
- Come up with an idea for your product in General terms. If nothing comes to mind right now, take the idea of creating a real estate rental CRM. In the examples, we will consider this particular project. Briefly describe your idea in 3-5 sentences in your own words.
- If you've never used cloud storage services, it's time to get started. Sign up to Google Drive, Yandex Disk, or Dropbox. Read articles about their effective use. In short , it will be easier to share files, documents and have access from all your devices.
- Read about the following points: Osterwalder Model, Lean startup, Customer Development.
The main principles and ideas for a product Manager
Principles can be violated. Just remember the risks that you take in this case.
Cycle“Idea-Manual check - Prototype— Collecting feedback— Conclusions— Development or reversal”
- You have an idea.
- Make the simplest prototype (ideally in one day and for free)
- Check on cats (the first loyal users)
- Draw conclusions: we are dealing with unnecessary nonsense or someone really needs it.
- Develop the idea or change it so that it becomes valuable to the customer.
The main point is to make this cycle faster and faster each time.
- the simpler solution— so it is cheaper, faster, its faster to assemble, easier to maintain.
- always strive for simplicity and ease.
- the system will become more complex as it develops. If you make it difficult right away, it will most likely become an unsupported monster in the future.
- a complex solution can have unexpected side effects (dynamic bugs, human errors, etc.)
- use your own reason and facts, not questionable advice from articles (a good lead for comments).
- don't substitute expert opinion for facts.
- take feedback on your product Critically (not everything the user says is really necessary for them. A person can say one thing and act on another).
- choose a certain product vision and stick to it in all your decisions.
An iterative approach
- you can't draw the Mona Lisa right away. We must come to this.
- create something small, but working and useful to someone.
- create a trickle and expand it gradually.
- define the control point, capture the achievement of product in them and plan the next checkpoint.
- detailed short-term planning and blurred long-term prospects. There is no point in defining in detail what will happen in N years, because in a couple of months everything can change a lot. You should only see the General outlines and move the product towards them.
The smaller the command, the better
The more people there are, the worse the product will be.
- First, it is difficult to get other people interested in your product.
- Second, people will tend to blur the focus of the product.
- Third, information will be sent faster and there is required less discussion.
- Fourth, responsibility is less blurred.
Starting with a simple and quick solution
- If there is a ready-made solution and it suits— you should try it (this is why Excel— is often the ideal initial tool for accounting for something).
- As the needs increase, we select a more appropriate solution.
- You don't need to shoot a artillery at sparrows, especially if the cannon is made for a year, it costs 2 million, and sparrows no more than 100 birds.
- These principles are not a panacea. And you will probably strongly disagree with some of them. Define your own set of principles for building the product, and familiarize the team with these principles in order to correctly form expectations for interaction.
- Write down which of these principles you are going to deliberately ignore and why (make this violation of the principles conscious).
- Formulate your idea so that you can tell another person about it within 20-30 seconds. Collect 3 responses to your idea and record them in a document. Did you manage to convey your idea to people the first time? (if it is difficult to do this live, it will be doubly difficult to do it on the site page, because you have very limited feedback from the user).
- Look at the layout tools and pay special attention to Google Slides for easy and fast layout creation.
- Learn how to take screenshots (for example, in Yandex. Disk) and video screenshots (screencast.com). This will make it easier for you to interact with performers on the project in the future (programmers, promoters, designers, etc.).
P.S. Working with the course involves 5% of reading, 10% of searching for additional information and 85% of adapting theses to your project. If you read all the material at once, ignoring the tasks,—it will just be another theoretical and useless long article without actions.
Stdy and detail of the product idea
What is the project concept?
The concept is a system of views on the future product that describes the vision of the project Manager (or a group of stakeholders).
Remember that everything described in the concept is hypotheses, not facts. And these hypotheses require confirmation by the behavior of real customers.
Why create a concept?
Concept— this is the entry point to the project
The concept helps structure the initial project description. The project concept describes the key points of your project and allows you to quickly understand the essence of the project.
How do I create a concept?
Create the concept iteratively, i.e. describe your idea superficially at the beginning.
As new information becomes available, detail the concept. Ask new questions and record the answers in the concept of the project.
Who creates the concept?
The concept should be done by the project Manager (or product owner). You don't need to delegate this work to technical specialists and marketers. The concept is not a website development brief or a website promotion plan. The concept is how the product owner sees their product.
What does the concept consist of?
Who is the target audience of the project and what problems do we solve for the target audience? Can the target audience be divided into main typical segments
How does the customer solve their problem now? How would it ideally solve this problem?
What is our solution?
What is important to the customer (which characteristics are most critical) in terms of their problem?
What is our offer to the customer? (offer— price, terms of delivery, provision of services, additional terms of the transaction)
How do we plan to reach the customer? (advertising, channels)
Main characteristics of our solution (portal features, structure)
Description of objects and subjects of the future system (structure of the future product)
Who are our partners? Who are our strategic partners (those who have the same CA as us)? Who are our supplier partners (who will help us make and deliver the product to the customer)?
What are our monetization hypotheses? How do we plan to earn money and when will it come from the moment of commissioning?
Main risks of the project. What are the main risks of project failure? How to minimize them (criticality, probability)?
Download the project concept template https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yY466nm_45SnKA70jWrvxEGZfoqGilODf-yj8tlq3rs/edit
Write briefly, without water. The concept— is not about “selling the product”. This is about defining the key points of the project as clearly as possible.
All that you have written are hypotheses and nothing more. They may change as new information is discovered.
- Watch a series of videos on our Youtube channel about # project failure
- Read the book S. Hurf "Designing Products People Love: How Great Designers Create Successful Products" .
- Create your product concept file
- Show your concept to at least one representative of your target audience. Write down theirs comments on the document.
Checking the product idea
Let's consider the question of initial verification of your product idea.
No one needs your product
So, you have worked out the concept of your product and identified its key features. You don't need to immediately start looking for a supplier for the project and start the project in development to create a real product sample. Why? It is very likely that no one else needs your product. Or someone needs it, but not enough to pay for it. They May be willing to pay, but not in the amount you need. Maybe there aren't as many of these people as you think. A priori, consider that your product is not needed by anyone, and you need to prove to yourself that it has real value for the target audience. Be a little pessimistic at the beginning of the project and optimistic at later stages of the project (and it will definitely come in handy there).
Now we need to test the idea on real customers/customers.
- The customer is the one who buys the solution.
- The customer is the one who uses your solution.
Your product should be relevant to both the former and the latter.
What should I show to my target audience?
Create a presentation for customers in Google Slides on 3 sheets:
- Who is the decision made for and what is its pain?
- What is the solution?
- Briefly, without water and general phrases.
- No need to try to persuade anyone (no selling phrases). You don't have to sell the solution now, you have to understand whether someone needs it or not.
- The main task is to convey the correct meaning.
- Style is not important. You don't need a corporate identity. Just take a nice neat template with a minimalistic design.
Where to find people?
Find 2-3 representatives of the target audience and show them your presentation. Where to search:
- Your current clients;
- Friends of friends in social networks (under the pretext of asking for a professional opinion on their field);
- Search for the customer's companies and start communicating under the guise of the customer, followed by switching to the idea of the service.
What to ask
Hold a meeting with them, or Skype call. The emphasis should be on communication, not presentation. The presentation is more of an addition to the conversation, not the other way around.
What needs to be identified:
- is this problem critical for them? and how critical.
- how do they solve the problem now?
- how would they ideally like to solve the problem?
- on what terms are they willing to buy the perfect solution?
- are they ready to leave their critical data? (catalog-price, legal data, contacts of internal stakeholders in their company). This is a positive signal that they are really interested in the idea.
Create an Excel file with the partners you interviewed: full name, contact, short summary, and degree of loyalty to the project.
Ideally, before starting a project, you should already have a pool of 10 loyal customers who are asleep and see when your product will finally appear.
- Create a short presentation
- Conduct at least 3 surveys
- Create an Excel file Partners and enter the survey results.
- Read the book C. Alvarez "Lean Customer development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy" .
- Look for CA representatives with a margin. Someone is bound to fall off, will not be able to, so it is better to do these moments with a certain margin.
Key product process. Creating initial product layouts
In each product, you can identify a certain main process that 90% of the system's users use. You need to find it, highlight it, and describe it in detail.
A storyboard is a visual (and in our case tabular) representation of the key project process for ease and speed of compilation.
What the storyboard consists of
Blocks connected by lines. Each block is a user history of some user activity in the system.
For example, for CRM real estate rentals, this might be the case:
- Logging in to the CRM Manager
- Checking the availability and booking of real estate on a call from a client
- Monitoring the main system indicators panel
- End of work
The level of detail does not matter. It is important to reproduce the exact usual order of user actions and get feedback from users.
You don't have to invent anything, but just ask users how they work ,and even better— observe (although it is more difficult, but it will give a more accurate picture).
Don't try to pass these jobs on programmers, development teams, or designers. This is not their task. This is the task of the product Manager (or product designer). As a result, it is necessary to immediately assign areas of responsibility and act according to the established agreements.
If the system is made for an external customer, you can start with the farthest touches (for example, the customer saw your ad somewhere in the Network).
When do I finish describing the key process?
It should be described before the user has received a tangible benefit from using the service: placed an ad on the site, received some information, set up their profile in a social network (for example,> 90% of the profile is full).
Creating the project structure
If we talk about a multi-user system, the project can be divided into areas:
- Unauthorized area (the user is not registered in the system). There will be General text pages, catalog of products/services, login and registration forms.
- Accounts by user type. Suppliers, Partners, Buyers, and other types of external users can work in the system. Each of them will have its own type of Cabinet with its own interface.
- Offices for service roles. Moderators, operators, administrators, and content managers.
Define the list of accounts in the system and describe the list of available pages for each account.
First describe the menu of each cabinet, and then the list of internal pages. Example - order page. It won't be on the menu. The orders page will appear in the menu, and a link to the order page will be sent from it.
Based on layouts, we create them quickly, not technologically. Then we get feedback, Refine the layouts, and do so until there is a simple and clear functionality for the user.
How to create layouts:
- First manually on paper (you can make 4 layouts on A4).
- We only visualize key details (we don't need to pay attention to small insignificant details yet)
- If you have the time/money/desire, we give you the task to transfer it to the prototype creation system (Axure or others) with full dynamics of page navigation
- Describe only the pages of the key process. Fewer pages— fewer approvals, faster edits, more precise focus on the main thing.
You don't need to sit for a long time over each layout. For 1 version of the layout of 1 page-no more than 10 minutes.
It is Better to do it quickly, show it, understand that it is not the same, and redo it again, than to spend 2 weeks on layouts, and then hold on to them, because we put so much effort and soul into them. A person tends to protect what he has invested heavily in, even if it is complete nonsense. Therefore, you do not need to attach too much to your layouts. Layouts are just a way to communicate with customers and developers, nothing more.
Try to ensure that the functionality of the first version is minimal. The smaller the volume, the faster, easier, and cheaper it will be to implement: less drawing, less writing Technical task, less coding, and less redoing in the end.
You have loyal customers/users. Use this to verify your layouts. Are we moving in the right direction? Do they understand these layouts without explanation? Do they have an interest in the system (this will be seen in the course of interaction)?
Immediately set up that you will make the structure and layouts in 1 day. There is nothing complicated in this, you can spy successful solutions from other people's systems (but do not blindly copy them). The most terrible clumsy layouts (but correct in meaning) are better than those that will make “in the near future”.
Gathering feedback on prototypes
The created layouts should be shown to users and modified based on their feedback.
Why do I need this:
- The interface may not be clear to them.
- You may have missed important process features for them
- Your interface may not solve important user tasks
You will be able to identify all this in the course of a conversation with representatives of the target audience.
What to do:
- Choose from your pool of loyal users 2-3 who agree to a call (Skype call) for 20 minutes on your system.
- Schedule a Skype call with them in advance (it is important that the user is from a PC, not a mobile phone).
In the call itself:
Briefly explain the essence of the service and thank you for your help in creating the service.
Show your layouts, you can just take a photo of your sketches, and briefly describe them.
Ask various questions in the format“ And how to do this”. This will allow you to find out how much the program interface is clear to a person.
Make the user feel like an expert and encourage them to Express critical opinions about the system and interface.
Ask a question - does the system solve the initial task?
Ask which layout does he think is most important? Why? What pages do they find irrelevant and unnecessary? What is missing? In an ideal it is necessary to simplify the process of working on the system?
Thank the person for their help and tell them that you will let them know when the trial version of the program appears.
Enter the results and insights in an Excel document. You can then use this document to find ideas for improving your product.
Your task is not to sell the solution, but to get maximum information from this user. If you try to sell, the user will be closed.
The storyboard template in tabular form, project structure and feedback collection can be found among the materials on our website
- Read the book "Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days" by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz .
- Look at the book Rob Fitzpatrick "The Mom Test: how to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everybody is lying to you" .
- You can quickly learn how to make layouts in Axure (they are easier to develop, change + you can make a dynamic interactive interface).
- To create project structures, you can try using FreeMind or similar programs. They allow you to build tree maps.
- Create your own storyboard of the key process
- Get user comments on your storyboard and improve it.
- Create the structure of your project (cabinets and pages for them)
- Create page layouts by hand on paper.
- Conduct 2-3 user surveys and collect feedback on the created prototypes
Risk management of your product
Murphy's law — If anything can go wrong, it will
It is necessary to cover all possible risks in advance and at least accept them. It is important that the completed risk is not a complete surprise to you.
What is the risk?
Risk— this is a negative event that may occur with a certain probability and has a certain criticality for you.
Your task is to identify risks, distribute them by type, and rank them based on criticality and probability.
What to do with risk
For each risk, enter the criticality K and probability P (from 1 to 3. 3-megacritical, 1-low-critical).
Get an integral indicator for all risks (for example, using the formula P+ 2* K). Sort the list in descending order and you will have a plan for handling risks (starting with the most critical-likely).
- Developing measures to reduce criticality
- Developing measures to reduce the probability
- If we can't do anything about it, we have to accept it and know that it can happen.
Example of risk handling
Take the risk that each of us bears — a car accident.
The probability is medium, closer to high (especially for those who constantly drive long distances).
The criticality is very high.
How can we reduce the likelihood of driving less, finding a job closer and walking, or working from home? Don't drive with reckless drivers. Make it a rule never to drive under yellow.
How can we reduce the criticality— buy a bigger car, always buckle up, a car with an air bag.
It is not possible to avoid the risk completely, and you need to accept that this can happen to everyone (but at the same time you need to take at least the measures that we have described).
Examples of product development risks
Here are a few risks that you may face:
The increasing complexity of functions and unnecessary functions. The desire to complicate everything and wind up— is a very frequent story. Try to fight this consciously.
The Crutches. Programmers can use some crutches without your knowledge, for lack of a more suitable solution. The problem with crutches is that they complicate maintenance and increase the risk of errors in the product
Changing the product owner. This will most likely change the product's vision and strategic development. If the wrong person comes, it can ruin even a stable and successful product.
Too strong a desire to please the customer - in pursuit of the fleeting desires of users, you will quickly lose the focus of the product and make a decision 'everything for everyone'. These solutions are usually very difficult to use, clumsy, and have a very complex and convoluted interface.
Also read our article about risks of a web project
Managing product requirements
To implement a product, it must be specifically and unambiguously described. The more accurate the description, the smaller the difference between expectations and results.
You must describe the product iteratively. First, decide on the 1 version of the product - the minimum functionality that will be put into operation.
How to describe requirements
You can describe it in the form of user stories. Each story is a detailed description of the possibility of a certain role in the system. You can do this in the format“I as a role such-and-such can do so-and-so with such a purpose”.
The main points in user history:
- what can I do?
- why does it do this?
Together with the developer, you can detail the description and add technical restrictions and details:
- what fields will the form have,
- what responses should the form handle
- system response in specific situations (for example, on a mobile screen)
- specific access restrictions.
The first version of the program must be completed in stages. In extreme cases, this may be stage 1. The technical task for a stage is essentially a set of user stories. You can attach layouts that were created earlier to user stories.
Organizing requirements storage
Where do I store user stories? In the backlog. In the simplest case it is an Excel table with the following fields:
- User history
- Status (Not started, In progress, Delayed, Implemented)
- Difficulty Of implementation
- Detailed requirements
- Product Value
Based on the priority, value for the product, and complexity, you can determine what needs to be implemented first.
How to work with a backlog
The backlog is a constantly updated document.
It includes all new wishlist that occur during the project. In any case, do not immediately implement everything that comes to mind.
If you have an idea during the process, just enter it in the backlog and describe it in the context of all the columns of the backlog. Very often there is a situation that the requirement quickly becomes irrelevant, or is transformed or clarified. Therefore, there is no need to transit through the backlog immediately“drive” requirements in the direction of developers.
Moving through the stages, you periodically update the backlog:
- updating the status of implemented features
- adding new ideas
- detail the highest priority stories
When the time comes to do the next step, you don't need to frantically figure out what to do next. You take the highest priority stories from the backlog and make technical task from them.
An example of a risk map and a backlog template are among the materials for this course
- Watch a series of videos about business risks on our Youtube channel#bizproblem
- Make your own risk map and rank them by probability and degree of criticality (by an integral indicator).
- Create an action plan for risk management.
- Create an initial backlog for your project (at least 5 possibilities) and fill in all the fields.
Product design is important. The design should serve the goals of the customer of the product, and not just be beautiful.
Good design in our understanding is:
- convenient input and output of information
- clear appearance at first glance
- no surprising elements
- pleasant features (keyboard shortcuts, multiple add-ons, quick search, minimal user downtime)
- good adaptation for mobile
- fast interface response (not as in Bitrix24 when opening the comment window— delay of 1.5 seconds).
Incorrect understanding of the design:
- make a very beautiful green (no, better red) button— this is extremely important for sales
- we need something unique to distinguish our appearance from others.
- everything is simple and primitive, let's do something cooler.
- and let's play with fonts?
- we need very high-quality 2MB photos on each page
How do I know which design I need? Everything is simple— starting from your target audience. Each audience values something different. The basic principles remain the same, just adding some touches and details that make your interface 'your own' for the customer.
If you don't have a particular understanding of design, then start with three simple concepts:
- simplicity and clarity— everything should be simple and clear without unnecessary words
- minimalism— the fewer elements, the fewer problems and inaccuracies there will be in the output. The design will be cleaner.
- speed— everything should work quickly, key features should be easily accessible.
Promotion and advertising
You need to think about promotion before you start creating a product.
You need to expand on the questions from the concept in more detail:
- How do you plan to attract your target audience to your product
- What channels are you willing to use to attract
- How will you measure the effectiveness of your promotion
- What content do you need to promote
- How you will handle your potential client in detail.
A good promotion strategy (not a panacea or silver bullet)
- You are creating a core — it can be a service or a service, or very valuable information.
- You create artifacts (content) that lead to this core. The content can be on your site or placed somewhere outside.
- You set up traffic not by advertising the core, but on auxiliary content (in fact, this is not advertising, but valuable content for the customer).
- Re-engage those who are interested in your content.
- Content should be made good (no rewriting or selling copywriters). Your materials should be essentially good, without water. The network already has a lot of garbage without you.
- You don't need to offer your final offer to an unheated lead— it's still not ready to accept it immediately.
How do I make content?
According to the following structure:
- materials about the problem you are solving
- materials about possible solutions to the problem
- materials about your solution to the problem (as well as about problems that arise when using alternative solutions)
- materials for using your solution
- materials about maximizing the benefits of using your product.
Each previous step must refer to the materials of the next step. This way the customer gets to the core of your main offer.
An alternative way to collect all semantics (Wordstat, KeyCollector), structure it, and write articles for each semantic cluster. This option will give more coverage for keywords, but the material will not be as well structured as in option 1.
In any case, you should end up with a content map that you will use as a plan to create useful content for your customer.
How to attract traffic. The main channels:
- Site SEO. You must configure everything on the site in a basic way (internal search engine optimization).
- YouTube videos. If the capabilities allow, this is a good way to compete in the TOP 10 of Google and Yandex for key queries
- Contextual advertising Direct and Adwords - use only point settings. Going wide in these systems will be extremely expensive. Use them primarily for retargeting.
- Internal referral system. If you have a really valuable service, it will be relatively easy to attract users to share information about the service with others. Especially if you stimulate them with favorable offers and discounts on your product.
- Social network. It all depends on your target audience. Try to cover narrow targeting. If it shows a low result, it is likely that expanding targeting will only worsen the indicators.
- Offline advertising and working with partners. Do not forget about these methods. You can attract partners offline.
- External sites with your content. You can distribute your content on well-known sites and light up at various events where your target audience happens to be.
Processing a potential client
You need to know exactly what to do with a potential client. Which path should it follow from the moment of 1 touch to the complete closure of all relations with it.
What does this track include:
- primary collection of information and transfer of information to the lead
- commercial offer
- fulfilling obligations
- identifying and processing additional needs
- reviews, recommendations
Each case will have its own unique process. You should specify as precisely as possible how this will happen in your case.
This process will be slightly different for the service:
- initial service session
- learning the service
- getting started with the service
- getting a fixed result or value from the service
- return to service
- getting used to the service
The process of adapting to the service is called onboarding. You should adapt the user to your service as gently as possible. You will also need tools to return the user to the service (retargeting, push notifications, email with Analytics, etc.)
The first decision: Choose how to create a product— Development vs Finished product vs semi-finished Product.
- Development— is long, expensive, and full of errors, but you can develop the product exactly to your needs and circumvent the limitations of finished products. products'.
- The finished product is fast, relatively cheap, and there are few errors. It is difficult to change and customize, and in the future there may be problems with performance and the inability to further develop (for example, you have a new branch, but the program does not include such functionality).
- Semis. These are platforms that allow you to quickly make certain decisions to meet your requirements. They have their own limitations, but you can bypass them and develop the product for yourself.
If there is a suitable ready-made solution and there are no visible restrictions and risks of using it in the foreseeable future (1-2 years), then you should take it.
If there is no solution, we try to do it on a ready-made platform.
If we need something highly specialized with extensive modification capabilities, we do it from scratch on the full development stack.
We are engaged in semi-finished products. We have a platform on which we create ready-made solutions that can be adapted and developed in the future.
Options for working with a development contractor
- Inhouse (hiring a company) is the most expensive option, you have to constantly pay and occupy people with something for 8 hours a day, it is difficult to check the qualifications (if there is no technical specialist inside), it is best to control the timing.
- Contractor company. For a serious long-term option, I believe that this is the best option. Legal obligations under the agreement. If there is a downtime on the project , you can freeze relationships and work on the project (which is not possible with an employee). Most likely, they will not disappear, as an individual can do. There is a project Manager who helps coordinate the project.
- Freelance contractor. The cheapest. You will have to execute the role of Manager for the freelancer. Can suddenly disappear. If side loading and this will affect the timing of your project. Most likely, we do everything ourselves, which can affect the quality (but if he can do it all well, then everything will move quickly).
How to build a work with a contractor
- Defining the first version to implement (a list of user stories in the backlog)
- We get the overall initial estimate for the project from the contractor by time and budget
- Approving and signing a service agreement
- Define the task for the first stage (TOR in detail) + determine the exact estimate of the stage and the schedule of checks for the stage.
- We check at checkpoints + update the project's backlog (new ideas, status changes, and details of future tasks).
- We accept the stage and proceed to the next stage.
Also see the article How can I choose a programmer or contractor without understanding the details of the development process?
Search and selection of contractors for various works
Key points for searching for contractors/suppliers
- to find a good contractors, you need to have a good selection of candidates (don't think that you can find one good contractors out of one candidate).
- ideally, it is better to do without a contractor, if possible (searching for a suppliers is a headache and a waste. Removing the contractors from the project is an even bigger headache).
- you can't plug a hole in a project with more people. The more people there are, the more difficult it is to manage and the more entropy there is.
Where to find contractors/suppliers
- if you are looking for single contractors/suppliers, create aт application on portals for freelancers.
- if you need a company, then search in search engines for narrow subject queries (i.e. exactly what you need, not“creating a site cheap”).
A good tactic is to find a product that you like and find out who technically implemented it. However, it doesn't have to be an analog of your product. For example, a team that has implemented a certain Internet service well for a Bank is likely to do a similar service well for a completely different environment.
What is important to consider when searching for a contractors/suppliers
- write everything as specific and precise as possible. This way you can immediately weed out the unsuitable ones: not “a programmer” is required, but “an ABCD 4.5 programmer with qwe 5+database support” is required.
- in the application, explicitly write who exactly will not suit you
- in the application, write what the candidate should indicate in the response letter (we filter inappropriate people who do not read your application).
- do not embellish the terms (only if no one comes to you, you can make the terms more attractive).
- offer a small test task (or a commercial offer for your task) and check responsibility at first (if responsibility suffers greatly at the beginning, then why would it improve later?).
How to check the contractors/suppliers
- using another suppliers that you trust
- ask around for details of projects that he did (you can tell if he was involved in them or not).
- ask in detail how it will solve your problem and what ideas it has on this subject. A detailed transparent plan-estimate is the basis of a good stage.
- give tasks to test human qualities - decency and honesty, efficiency, accuracy, etc.
- Read articles about onboarding
- Study well the possibilities of sites for freelacers from the employer's point of view.
- Read a couple of articles on Basic design rules, usability
- Promotion. Write the initial structure of your content map
- Sales. Write your process for processing a potential client.
- Write your ad to search for a programmer for your project
- Write your ad and test task to search for promotion for your project
- Identify the key relevant qualities of the people in your team and how you plan to test them.
- The implementation of the product. Find suitable ready-made solutions for creating your product.
- The implementation of the product. Define in detail the composition of the first version of the product (i.e. what should be put into operation in the primary form)
- Design. Define your design concept more precisely based on the description of your product's target audience.
- Design. Critically review your layouts, how do they comply with the rules of good design? What can be improved?
Commissioning — it's not easy. "Let's go!"'
What needs to be done at the commissioning stage:
- Change all passwords, check again who has access to what
- Check that everything is switched to combat mode (not test mode)
- Remove all test data
- Define the rules for prevention of major objects (server, etc.)
- Configure backup
- Enter key dates in Google Calendar for domain renewal, hosting payment, ssl certificate renewal, etc.
- Set up a site crash monitoring system (Uptimerobot.com— free service)
- Configuring web analytics counters
- Checking your speed in Google Pagespeed
- Conducting SEO audits (you can use tools like Seolik)
- To register the website in Google and Yandex Webmaster
- Top up all necessary balances (SMS, etc)
- Prepare documentation for users
- It would be Good to run a load test with the actual amount of data in the database.
- Check the functionality of the key forms on the site and it is desirable to create a schedule for periodically checking their functionality (1 time a week).
Use this checklist when you launch your project.
Let's say you've done everything and you can start the project. Now you need to work through the following questions:
- Execution periodic analysis of web analytics data. At first, you can view each session in session replay. This will give you a lot of food for thought about what can be improved in your product.
- Monitor problems: there may be errors in the code, mail may not work, the server may crash, and there may be critical SEO errors. At the beginning of using the product, it is better to be a little more paranoid. You may simply not know that you have problems and think that the customer is not coming simply because the product is not interesting to them. But in fact, you just have a mobile version that is very crooked and nothing works.
- You must have close contact with the customer. Your task is to get feedback on your product from the customer as soon as possible. Use your loyal customer base for this activity. Also ensure prompt response to the site's technical support chat. In our case, we use telegram chats: someone wrote on the site— this gets into the chat telegram and there is an opportunity to respond promptly.
- Traffic management — ad purchasing, retargeting, SEO events.
About Analytics, product promotion (platforms), see the section of articles Site promotion.
It is not enough to attract the user— it still needs to be adapted and linked to the service. Ideally, it should Wake up and reach for the phone to see what is happening in your service (as is the case with social networks and messengers).
You need to go back to the storyboard of the user's first contact and compare the plan (storyboard) and reality (session replay). You need to understand why there are differences and adjust your storyboard, or make changes on the site so that the actual process is closer to the storyboard.
It is important that the user gets value from using your service as soon as possible. If this doesn't happen, for example, it just didn't find a suitable link, then it's very likely that you've lost it forever. Remove all unnecessary things, nothing should prevent the user from getting their profit as quickly as possible.
The user's return is of particular interest. The user came to the site, looked at something, and left. How do I get it back?
- Sending useful information to email. It shouldn't be SPAM. This can be either a favorable offer, or a notification about an important event on the site for the user (a new message), or interesting Analytics for the service.
- Retargeting. You can catch up with the user through retargeting. This is what banks do, for example. Go to any Bank's website and you will soon notice that the Bank's ads will follow you everywhere.
- Call for quality of service. You can remind yourself of yourself through concern for quality and, in between, suggest the next step for a deeper acquaintance with your product.
Ideally, it would be good to work out the storyboard for subsequent repeat visits. And also compare the user's behavior with it.
Attracting users is much more expensive than keeping them. If social networks did not retain users, but constantly attracted them, they would have gone bankrupt long ago. Have you seen a FB advertising somewhere on the web? Retention should be one of your main key ideas.
How do I encourage users to interact more actively with the service? Gamification. Create special counters, ratings, badges, profile content scales, and animated characters.
The User should not get bored, they should have a clear and simple motivation to perform the next action. People don't like incomplete actions. Remind them with special progress indicators that they have not completed the profile or described the project at the auction.
In a more complex version, you can create quests for the user, but this will require serious study of the game and a deep understanding of the motivation and characteristics of your target audience.
It is even better if you can engage the user in interaction with other users against the background of gamification. Watch the starmaker karaoke mobile app— you are immediately plunged into the maelstrom of events and interaction with other users. This is done at the highest level. And then pay attention to how they try to bring you back to the app.
It is important to develop a habit of using your product. This is achieved through regularity and ease of use. On this subject there is a fine book by N. Eyal «Hooked».
An undeveloped product is likely to wither and close quickly.
You should have a detailed short-term plan for implementing new features in the product, and you should have a general vision (or long-term plan) of how the product will develop as a whole, without working out individual small details.
Don't try to embrace the vast. Move iteratively. Implement only what really makes sense to the customer and adds value to your product.
And last but not least, the cult of prototype solutions. Don't try to make big opportunities right away. First, make a prototype or even a layout. Show customers, collect feedback. It may turn out that you will make a lot of functionality in the system, but no one will need it, and moreover, it will complicate the user's life (for example, the system will work slower than before, or become less stable).
- Read W. Isaacson «Steve jobs» and «Innovators». In the first book, the concept of the closed system and how it was implemented in Apple is very well described. The second book tells the story of technological advances in computing.
- Read N. Eyal «Hooked». You will have a good understanding of how the habit of using a particular product is formed.
- View the UptimeRobot service
- Learn from articles and videos how to use web analitic
- Use the starmaker mobile app. Track how they adapt you on the social karaoke network, and how they bring you back to the app.
- Try measuring the speed of sites (your own or any other) using Google PageSpeed
- Add items specific to your situation to the commissioning checklist.
- Work through the questionnaire of questions to loyal customers. What do you want to find out from them? How will you use this information?
Source: collection of our articles on vc.ru - https://vc.ru/marketing/95255-product-owner-00-kurs-po-sozdaniyu-svoego-produkta-nachalo
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