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Product Talks #4: Balancing Commercial Initiatives with User Experience Concerns

I will be in Sydney, Australia in early November to facilitate the fourth installment of brainmates ' Product Talks . The conversations will focus on the challenges of balancing commercial initiatives with user experience concerns. A copy of the media release follows: Raising the Bar on Product Management Excellence brainmates is inviting Product Management specialist, Roger L. Cauvin , to Australia this November to lead public and client events in Sydney, offering his expertise and fresh perspectives in Product Management to local corporations. Cauvin will be facilitating brainmates fourth Product Talks session, a free quarterly forum that brings together product and marketing professionals to network and discuss issues in contemporary Product Management. Cauvin will lead conversations on ‘Balancing Commercial Initiatives with User Experience Concerns’ on November 5th at brainmates’ office. Registration is required to attend Product Talks events. A selection of brainmates

Strategy and Pragmatic Marketing's Framework

Pragmatic Marketing has a framework for creating and marketing successful, market-driven products. A grid familiar to many product managers and marketers depicts an overview of the framework: The left side of the grid shows the more strategic marketing activities, while the right side of the grid shows the more tactical marketing activities. On the far left side of the grid, we find research activities such as understanding market problems, the competitive landscape, and distinctive competence. On the far right side of the grid, we find presentations and demos, sales or other "special" calls, and event and channel support. The grid is an enormously useful tool for finding the gaps in your company's marketing efforts. Most of us who have taken Pragmatic Marketing classes know that most companies are severely deficient in the left side of the grid. They either have no coherent strategy or have developed strategies without a thorough understanding of the market. Doe

Why Product Management Interviews Suck

Before becoming a product manager, I was a software engineer for about eleven years. During my career as a software engineer, I interviewed for many different positions and many different companies. Some of the companies had perfected their interview process; they employed such methods as: Analysis and design sessions Coding quizzes Design pattern questions Development process question/answer sessions The candidate's performance during each segment was fairly objective and straightforward to assess, and hiring managers felt confident that a candidate would excel on the job if she performed well. Any software engineering "rock star" felt confident that she would come close to acing these exercises and quizzes. Now, as an experienced product manager having recently interviewed at various companies, I'm struck that 95% of product manager interviews yield almost no useful or reliable information for assessing how well the product manager would perform on the job. Un

Agile Is Not Just a Development Methodology

Recently, several of my favorite bloggers have debated the role of product management in agile product development: Adam Bullied asked if the notion of an agile product manager is baloney . Enthiosys argued that agile does and should change how product managers do their jobs . Saeed argued that agile only need affect product management incidentally and at the margins . You'll find my thoughts dispersed throughout some of the comments in these blog entries. If you're an executive interested in the debate, here's what you need to know. First, read a blog entry I wrote in June 2005 entitled "Agile Product Management" . In it, I lay out some of the basics of waterfall and agile methods. Second, read a blog entry I wrote in September 2005 entitled "BUFR" . In the entry, I contended that the two main causes of problems with waterfall methods are big up-front design (BUFD) and big up-front requirements (BUFR). Third, note that the most important set of p

What's Wrong with Product Management?

Over at the On Product Management blog, Saeed asks us to complete a brief survey on what the biggest problems are in technology product management. I answered roughly as follows: Q1. What do you see as the biggest problems facing the technology product management profession today? Too much tactical activity in the absence of sound strategy. The lack at most companies of a skilled interaction designer or user experience professional role. Q2. What solutions would you suggest to address these problems? Educate executives about the importance of strategy and how to best determine it. Hire skilled interaction designers or user experience professionals. Q3. Which of the following best describes your role/department? Product Management

Value-Based versus Cost-Based Pricing

Over on the Accidental Product Manager blog , Dr. Jim Anderson writes that cost-based pricing of a product is a bad idea, and that value-based pricing is the way to go. Cost-based pricing and value-based pricing are two different ways a product manager can decide on the price of a product. A cost-based price is the cost of producing a unit of the product plus a certain margin. For one example of applying cost-based pricing, see Adam Bullied's blog entry on the pricing new products . A value-based price reflects the value of the product to the customer. The way I suggest pricing a product based on value is to use negative pricing . Dr. Anderson points out that price and volume have mutual feedback effects: Since your unit cost is changing with volume, your price will determine how much you sell. This will then impact volume which then impacts unit cost. As a result: So what’s wrong with cost plus pricing? Simple - cost plus pricing will cause you to over-price your

Two Approaches

Back in November, Seth Godin wrote about a frustrating experience almost all of us have shared. You call customer service, navigate a long sequence of touch-tone prompts, only to be informed that the office is closed. In Godin's case, he endured nine prompts. If a typical product manager or business analyst presided over the development of this telephone navigation system, I can imagine how it went. "Let me talk to your subject matter experts (SMEs) ." "What are the departments a customer might need to contact?" "Let's draw a chart showing the different paths through the phone system." Contrast this approach with the following focus on real requirements . The product manager or business analyst converses with customers and customer support to understand the problems that they are trying to solve and avoid by calling support. The problems don't just include the reason they call support in the first place. They also include potential p