Product discovery is the process of creating solutions that respond to actual problems faced by users. Testing ideas and solutions is at the heart of this process, as well as understanding how the market works and what the users really need. With a well-designed product discovery process, from product landscape to specification and testing, one can establish a solid foundation for creating a product that will be used by millions.
In this article, I will address the first steps of the entire process - that is, preparation for workshops and developing an understanding of a business and its customers based on the data currently available.
It is important to keep in mind that these few / several hours of workshops are only a small part of all that awaits you during the discovery period. You should arrive prepared for the workshops, so how can you do that?
You need to know your competitors in order to make sensible decisions about which direction to go and what solutions are most suitable for your clients. You should research your competitors in terms of what they offer clients, what their strengths and weaknesses are in relation to your business, and identify areas where you can quickly gain an advantage.
It's also important to understand the general market environment - how are trends evolving and what are the mistakes or learnings that other companies have made when implementing similar solutions.
In most cases, you will not be the first to develop a given product or solution. In general, you can introduce some innovative elements, but the basic principles and processes remain the same. You could examine how others do it - what they like, what they dislike, and which solutions are the most popular.
You should look at what is happening in other countries, even if you will be working with your product locally. Technological implementation varies considerably by country (e.g. voice interfaces) depending on the policies of internet giants. Even with its obvious flaws and injustices, this provides an opportunity to see mature and proven solutions that you can adapt by implementing your own.
Knowing your surroundings is the first step. Understanding your organization and its customers is crucial. Usually, you will want to launch a product that complements an existing service or sales channel. Therefore, you already know who uses your services and how.
You have a responsive e-commerce website where you sell products, and you want to enhance the service channels with a mobile app. If you analyze website data, and especially its mobile version, you will be able to collect very useful information about the profile of a client who has the most potential to start using your application when it becomes available.
Many useful data and information can be found within a company - you won't be the first to seek them out. At least, I hope so anyway. :) You should definitely be in touch with your marketing department, which can be a great source of information as to what your customers want.
Interviews with stakeholders address specific issues or topics, such as how to solve customer problems. These interviews are intended to gather information relevant to the project and to solicit feedback and suggestions from stakeholders. Usually, stakeholders have knowledge (often experts in very narrow fields), wisdom, and insights to help guide decision-making.
A stakeholder interview provides a broad overview of views on a topic, which may reveal hidden concerns or ideas that otherwise might not have been explored.
In order to solve a customer's problem successfully, you must first become familiar with and understand the client themself. That is why it is worth learning about them not only through raw data and from third parties (even if they are excellent specialists), but also by simply becoming a client yourself.
If you go through the order process, submit a complaint, and look for help personally, you may discover unobvious problems that your customers have to deal with.
Even better, you can prepare a Customer Journey Map that will clearly identify all the places where a user might encounter a problem as well as those where they are satisfied. These solutions are always worth incorporating into a new product! :)
Don't feel obligated to do everything yourself. There are both internal and external specialists who can assist with the preparation - for example, someone specializing in Customer Service or User Experience. You can also take advantage of the offer of companies that have ready-made teams for helping customers create business models and determining what their products should be.
The information collected during the above activities now needs to be organized and prepared so that they are a help rather than a hindrance during the workshops. Whether you will use real or online workshops (although in real life, workshops have the potential to be more effective), you should prepare the data in advance so they can be easily accessed when needed. How many visitors are using the mobile version of a given website? That's no problem - you have this information written down. Did one of the stakeholders miss the workshop? No problem, you already made a note of his ideas and concerns.
Remember, preparation is the key to success! :)