The value of discovery teams in product management
At Lab08, we help upcoming ventures scale their software products and solve challenges in intelligent ways. We are not just another outsourcing agency that solves pre-set projects and works as ‘hands-on keyboards.’ We are not fans of taking orders and implementing them blindly. On the contrary, we see ourselves as problem-solvers, making us advocates of a much more profound relationship. We like to understand your business and pain points, ask questions, and maybe even challenge you on a thing or two. This to collaborate fully and engage with early-stage scale-ups on their journeys to superstardom. In our experience, this gives our clients a lot more bang for the buck.
Our approach to succeed on the above is to leverage our know-how and competencies to maximize business value for our partners. We like to team up into long-term partnerships to our clients build solid products and capable teams accordingly. There is always more value to be found when you start digging a bit deeper rather than just scratch the surface. Our usual first step is to set up strong discovery teams with each client, which provides the foundation for the job to be done.
The role of this team is what the article will elaborate on. However, we will continue to address other key points over the following months to see successful product management in the software game. Make sure you keep an eye out for the next nugget that will drop further, describing our approach and what sets us apart.
Assembling a discovery team
Fundamentally, the role of the discovery team is to define the right software product that will best serve the specific needs of the designated target users. Easy, right?
This may sound relatively straightforward, but getting it just right is a complex process that requires different areas of expertise and focuses on challenging the status quo from all angles. We have defined the fundamental roles in our discovery team set up to address that need specifically.
The Strategic Product Manager
One of the Product Manager’s (PM) essential tasks is defining the ‘why’ behind product development. Meaning what is the overarching need and the end goal that we are looking to meet. To achieve this, the PM’s job is to define a solid strategic vision of the core problems that we are looking to take on – both in short-, medium-, and long-term perspectives.
Additionally, it is of the utmost importance that the PM identifies the Ideal Client Profile (ICP) to enable the rest of the team to tailor our product solutions to the key users. The ICP is never based on gutfeel, written in the stars, or through reading tea leaves, but rather a solid user research that enables us to discover the most critical underlying needs. What the PM does is steer the ship in the right direction through fact-based decision-making.
The Product Owner
In defining the user’s actual needs, the Product Owner (PO) provides input and collaborates with the PM to ensure quality and validate the strategic vision. One of the most critical tasks of the PO is to transform the user-needs and high-level vision into an actionable roadmap so you do not just stick the data in the bin. To do so, the PO acts as the voice of reason that consistently challenges the input from the PM. The PO works closely with the UX designer and the tech team to ensure a viable final solution that meets business targets. This requires setting clear goals and tasks for the tech team to facilitate an agile development process – keeping them inline rather than running wild.
The UX Designer
The role of the UX Designer comes down to making the product solution intuitive and easy to use. Naturally, this is defined by the frame set by the PM and PO to ensure that everything meets the strategic vision and solves the pain points. This process requires a fundamental understanding of the ICP and the user needs. It should always be based on a deep interaction and collaboration with the rest of the discovery team. The UX Designer can then map out the user journey and optimize interaction points with the product from a user perspective.
Solving needs rather than chasing requests
At Lab08, one of our significant definitions of success is to simplify throughout the product development process. We write clean code, create simple MVPs, and build intuitive products.
The discovery team has a vital role in this, as they must understand the fundamental user pain points that must be alleviated. Again, we never work to solve requests – we work to meet needs.
Requests can be misleading. They change over time as users think of new ‘nice-to-have’ add-ons and shiny features that muddy the MVP and the code behind it. On the other hand, needs are consistent as they address a necessity in the business present due to underlying causes or motives. The discovery team is constantly engaged in identifying such needs and defining them clearly and concisely. This provides the foundation for a stable product development phase, as you keep your eyes on the end-goal from start to finish rather than bring on new features that ultimately do not add business value. Think of it as putting blinders on a horse. Tunnel-vision.
Recapping the role of the discovery team
The easiest way for a ship to get to its destination is to set the best course as it undocks. The role of the discovery team is precisely this. To set the best possible direction for the product development phase from the start and to ensure that it is fact-based rather than built on gut feel. If you would like to hear more about our work with discovery teams and experiences with design thinking, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
If you enjoyed learning more about the Lab08 approach to product management in software, make sure you keep an eye out for future articles. We will continue to drop short, digestible pieces that describe what sets us apart and makes us a strong partner and collaborator when you look to develop or refine your software products.
|Operational Product Owner (PO)|
Head of Product Management
Lachezar Blagoev is the Head of Product Management at Lab08. His responsibilities include defining product roadmaps, managing backlog, and coordinating development efforts in order to ensure that milestones maximize the value we bring to all of our customers
He is acting as the link between customers and business by representing the user’s perspective
Lachezar has made essential decisions regarding all aspects of a product strategy including but not limited to UX, technical approach, business purpose, and compliance with regulations
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