I’m always interested to look at publicly available devices and who’s using them. Curiosity if you will and seeing what I can learn from it. I’m certain many of these products start out in life with good intention by a team that wants to create something amazing. And that’s where the problem starts – the customer need or the lack of it. An idea starts out in an organisation and builds momentum as more people stick their components on it. You start with brief that is destined for failure. It didn’t start with a need. A genuine need that is solving a problem and making life better.
Consultants don’t want to ask awkward questions at this point and challenge the requirement. I’ve done it myself and it’s lost the work as you’re seen as someone who is challenging the request. It doesn’t make you popular in an agency no matter that people say ‘oh we don’t want clients like that’.
So how do listen and understand your clients and challenge in a single breath?
The simple answer is backlog scoring. Take all inputs and I mean everything. Then each feature should be scored on 6 dimensions across a value and feasibility set of questions:
- Does this fit with our customers needs?
- Does this reflect our brand values?
- Does this generate profit, increase customers or conversion?
- Does this differentiate our offering from competitors?
- Can we operationally deliver this?
- Can we technically create this?
The business scores the entire backlog with representatives from sales, operations, marketing and technology. Soon features that create value and are operationally doable come to the forefront. This is the sweet spot of a valuable product and should be prototyped for feedback. It’s remarkably simple with a bit of Excel formulas but so often missed by all involved.
Back to the swimming pool…
The iPad was turned off. I watched to see if anyone would approach it. Not a sausage. I spoke to the receptionist to find out what it was for and who would use it. She thought it was for visitors… but I wonder how many visitors to an area visit a swimming pool. Perhaps the train/bus station or car parks would be a better location? And then the killer blow. Their Wifi wasn’t working and haven’t for weeks, it wasn’t something they actually needed to run the leisure facilities and so in turn hadn’t been fixed. This meant the application didn’t actually work.
It made me wonder aside from thinking about the features had the creators thought about the location? Ultimately without a connection it was dead. Maybe the first requirement should have been ‘works without a reliable internet connection’.
All of this probably took an enormous amount of time and complexity to rollout. But it did start me to question who was it for, what problem was it solving and did anyone want to use such an application in that location.
Process is king
I’m not saying asking customers is the only method to design products as customers don’t always know what they want. But working together, following a proper scoring process and involving people early in the solution can only lead to making things people actually love.