<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=443149619225659&ev=PageView&noscript=1"> Product as a Linchpin Part 2

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Product as a Linchpin Part 2

Product as a Linchpin Part 2

It’s easy to get carried away when developing a new product. All of the trendy options and innovation possibilities are shiny and alluring, if not intoxicating, when considering what features and functionalities to include in scope. If caution is not used, these available tools created to help solve end-user problems can become obstacles. As a Product Manager, my job is  to ensure the on-time delivery of a quality product [that solves the stated user problem(s)]. Thus, I have to remove any and all obstacles from the project.

In Product as a Linchpin Part 1, I shared the three questions I ask (when a new feature or functionality is proposed for development) to help me remove those obstacles. In this article, I’m sharing a real example of how asking these questions allowed the team to be successful; the end-user to realize value; and, the company to generate significant revenue. In Part 1, I shared my reasoning behind asking the three questions. In Part 2, I’m sharing the real life examples of when I asked each question and the end results. 

What does the future look like?

One of the features to be developed was to allow customers request a credit line increase and quickly receive a decision. After reviewing the provided information from stakeholders and the Product Owner, I quickly noticed that it only identified the “happy path” (i.e. the flow for when a desired customer is approved). I did not have a path for when a customer is declined for a credit line increase or when additional information is needed before a decision could be made. The most critical piece of designing the feature was also missing; no thought given to which customers would be eligible to make this request. If one goal was to decrease calls to the call center, not having any of this accounted for in a finished product would mean absolute failure. To remedy these information gaps, I worked with my UX lead to map all possible user paths and outcomes. We then built an experience around what we could confirm with SMEs and created solutions for realized process gaps and failures. We were able to get the improved feature developed within a two-week sprint. The feature released without incident. It generated solid revenue in its first ninety days on the market and decreased*  the number of existing inbound calls to the call center. *End-users were calling to change their employment information because they couldn’t previously do so without a call center agent.

Are we trying too hard?

During the project with the top ten financial institution, someone wanted to develop functionality that allowed customers to login to the app via facial recognition. Although this technology was cutting edge, it didn’t solve the stated problem; end-users were not having problems logging into the app or resetting their credentials. I listened to the full proposal and determined that it was not the right fit for the existing effort. Because I believe in digital evolution, I did socialize the idea with leadership and placed it in the portfolio manager’s idea backlog for another team to see and possibly develop. 

Is this option a “Hell yeah!”?

An income review is part of the credit line increase process. Existing customers could state their new salary and only provide a paycheck stub when a risk was identified. One of the requirements provided by a stakeholder was to develop the functionality for end users to be able to upload a paycheck stub in the app. After assessing the manual process, resource requirements and delays to the provided timeline, I had to push back and say “no” on the requirement for the following reasons:

  1. Development of the requirement would cause a 4-week delay; there was no one on the back end who could review paycheck stubs that would be sent via the app, a new process had to be stood up in a different department

  2. Only a small percentage of credit line increase requests required review of a paycheck stub

  3. End-users who were required to submit a paycheck stub had to speak with a customer service agent. So, it made sense for these end-users to follow the existing review process

I must admit that it doesn’t feel good to say “no”, but when an item clearly does not align with the future, help solve the problem or fit in with the brand, a “no” is warranted. A Product Manager must ensure the on-time delivery of a quality product. This responsibility includes being realistic and consistent when assessing proposed features and functionality. It also requires the ability to say “no”. Failure to do so creates the difference between realizing success or failure.

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About the author

Tracy's digital career began in the finance industry for a top 10 bank where she held several roles leading corporate-wide efforts to implement new in-house technology across the organization's domestic retail footprint. She uses her professional experiences along with her Lean and Product Owner certifications to help efficiently implement high quality digital solutions. Known as a problem-solver, Tracy utilizes innovation efforts to drive change and shift culture. In her spare time, Tracy enjoys traveling to foreign countries and soaking up the culture. She also enjoys participating in wellness conferences. Tracy then utilizes learned wellness practices to ensure team balance in the fast-paced technology environment.
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