From the outside, it looks like Product people have these grand ideas and boom, a thriving tech business is born. The big idea around Product Management is working with your team to create value for a set of users i.e the market.
But let’s talk about value first.
Value is multi-dimensional because there are many components to it — there are many things that can make something perceived as valuable to multiple people. Broadly, value can be:
- emotional or
- contextual (specific to a situation).
The products we build at Chipper Cash bring a mix of these values to the 4m+ users across 8 countries who use the product. For example, some users in Uganda can raise their social currency in their circles because they now have dollar investments, diaspora users in the UK and US would derive the emotional value of staying connected to home because Chipper has given them the tool to send money home in Africa to their loved ones at the very best rates.
I, however, have a bias toward emotional value so I’m going to paint a picture of the value we’ve created from an impact perspective. Here’s a success story I love — Edwina is a middle-aged Ugandan woman who lives in Kampala, Uganda who listens to Afrobeats and downloaded the Chipper Cash app thanks to Burna Boy’s giveaway in 2020. She’s gone on to be an active transactor for our crypto and global micro-investment stocks — she essentially can buy global shares like Tesla and Apple for as little as $1 (UGX 3,524). Before Chipper, she’d need to fork out about $3,000 to buy a share in Amazon, making it harder for her to make the right money decisions to improve her financial life. Further, she would not have had access to the tools to buy and sell cryptocurrency on a small scale.
In the process of adopting these use cases on the application, Chipper is:
- Educating her on these investment options — fractional stocks and cryptocurrencies
- Making the tools available to her to execute those transactions
- Helping her build the muscle of making these transactions a part of her daily life by reducing the minimum amount to what she would consider bite size.
Giving her these things will ultimately give Edwina financial control and agency so she can nurse ideas like “I’d like my kids to go to better schools” or “it’s time to expand my business”.
That’s the value. We’re building for Edwina.
But how do we do it?
The Inclusion Dance
There are distinct phases in the product development cycle and for each stage, there are key collaborators. Typically, the start of the cycle is ideation where product people talk to customers, study the market and coin a Product Requirements Document (PRD) to define the problem and solution to get the ball rolling on building the product. At this point, the engineering team is looped in to build and then everything else is figured out after.
I’d advocate for doing things a little differently.
When you ideate, include data analysts and UX researchers. When you document, the Risk, Engineering, Design, Operations and Finance teams should be of an open, continued conversation. Further, in the time leading up to launch (as the product is being built), try to pull in Partnerships/ Commercial, Marketing/ Growth, and Customer Support teams into the dance party. An elegant way to keep a cross-functional conversation going is having a Slack channel where you host these conversations in public, outside of team meetings.
Think of it as you’re co-creating your PRD with these teams internally so you can get buy-in quickly, reduce friction and ship out a valuable product in as little time as possible. As you co-create, this is a great opportunity to advocate for the user and paint the picture of what value means to the user to your team.
I have a laundry list of boxes to be ticked when I’m rolling out a feature or product:
- Provide go-live acceptance criteria — Engineering Team
- Legal team — to make sure I’m not about to run the business into the ground or get us in too much trouble :)
- Business process changes — Administrative/ Operations Team
- Communication Activities (Content & Messaging Plan) — Marketing Team
- Technical Support Process — Technical Support Team/Engineering Team
- Customer Support (Training and Test-Run) — Customer Success Team
- Support channel set-up and SLA with escalation matrix from partners — Partnerships Team
- Finance and Risk approval (settlement and reconciliation, portfolio management process with partners) — Finance Operations and Risk Teams
- Data infrastructure to monitor metrics (Admin Dashboard) — Data Team
- Schedule for go-live — Product, Mobile Dev and Operations and Support Teams
- Set up feedback collection mechanism — Customer Success and Data Teams
Not every organisation is set up the same so feel free to tweak this list to suit the realities in your organisation.
Delivering value through inclusion
Hosting this inclusion dance is a neat way to build credibility within your team. As you engage your team early on in your process, you also teach the team to be product thinkers which is immensely valuable to you and the business long term. Further, you’re better able to play shepherd and be a part of decisions made in the later stages of the product life cycle because you’re in better sync with the cross-functional team.
And finally, my favourite one, you build muscle around being a charmer :). It is a great opportunity to build and exercise the soft skills product management demands. You’d juggle relationships and expectations better.
In the end, Edwina is better off for it — she’s getting value.