The following article is a sample from the full BVOP™ Ultimate Guide and is part of the preparation for the BVOP™'s modern Agile Product Management Certification Program.
After a product is released to the market, and active users adopt it, its existence depends on the users' demands and the changes in different aspects like:
- New or changing user needs.
- Different users' perceptions of the product.
- Users’ behavior changes.
- New skills accumulated by the users.
- Comparison of the product with competitive ones.
These dynamic variables require product support in many areas like strategies, marketing, sales, business, research, and development.
New or changing user needs
With time products may change their target audience or their users may change their needs.
For example, a user’s need may transform from “I need my bottle of water to be very light when I am jogging” to “I need my bottle of water to be very sturdy when I am jogging”. Or “I need my bottle of water to be very light and sturdy when I am jogging”. A single need may transform, but this may require extensive investments.
The Business Value-Oriented Product Management (BVOPDM) office keeps track of the changed or new user needs. There the decisions to improve the product or some parts of it are made, based on the magnitude of the users' demands and the estimated resources needed for applying the changes.
A typical question that occurs amongst the BVOPDM office members before making any changes should be “Can we change or adapt the product with minimum effort but fulfill the users demands to the maximum?”.
Different users’ perceptions of the product
Humans change their perception about the world and their surrounding environment regularly.
One event or object may be perceived differently over time. This characteristic of humans reflects on the emotions users feel towards a product and the periodicity of using it.
It is natural for people to feel disappointment towards a product or parts of it.
The BVOPDM office needs to be aware of these fluctuations and face them maturely.
Changes in users (behavior, opinions, perceptions, vision, needs) may be analyzed carefully as they may be a reason for unnecessary investment in product support activities.
Temporary and permanent changes have to be differentiated to avoid waste.
The BVOPDM office should invest in permanent changes before the temporary ones.
Users’ behavior changes
Users may change their behavior while using the product based on factors like:
- Usability issues
- Users’ needs leading to functional workarounds and hacks
- Context and environmental changes
If the users are experiencing difficulties using the product, they may have a different than expected behavior.
If users cannot operate with some functions of the product with ease, they may stop using or find a different way to utilize it than desired.
User needs leading to functional workarounds and hacks
Some users may require a different or faster way to do something than the product is designed for. This distinction of users can make them look for other ways to accomplish a task. They may start searching for weak areas or forcing some functionalities to do something different than designed.
The disappointment of users is unpredictable and a hard to track variable. In most cases, it may cause a drop in product usage, but it may also provoke users to do harmful actions.
Context and environmental changes
Users may completely change the context in which a product is used or the environment they use it in.
Switching from desktop to mobile or wearable technological products is a typical example.
Users may change their entire surrounding environment. Swapping from work to the gym or from at home to the mountains are typical examples that can lead to a complete change of behavior.
New skills accumulated by the users
The longer users are exposed to the product, the more skills they accumulate. They gain knowledge, which may lead to different use of the product.
Comparison of the product with competitive ones
It is natural for users to compare the products they use with other ones. Users have their feelings and emotions about the products around them, and their final decisions are based on multiple factors like:
- Emotional factors
- Cognitive factors
- Functional factors
- Practical factors
- Social and other beneficial factors
Emotional factors include the way users feel about a product at a given time. These factors may be unpredictable and may be based on:
- Users’ past experiences
- Current emotional state
- Surrounding environment
- Cultural specifics
- Influences by others
A simple definition of cognition is the process of humans learning, remembering, and using new information. Every person learns with different velocity, intensity, depth, and understanding.
Users may compare products based on their cognitive abilities.
The functional capabilities of a product may be crucial for positive users’ impressions. What the product has to offer is very important in deciding whether users “like” the product or are ready to use it.
Functional factors are also related to the affordance and the usability state of the product.
After assessing the functionality of a product, users can envision its incorporation in their own lifestyle. Some may find more practical applications than initially designed ones. If they discover more value in a product, they may change their behavior and try to adapt it according to their own needs. Users see this adaptation as a benefit, and they gain their general positive impression of the product.
Social and other beneficial factors
Users may compare products based on how they affect their social status. Any additional benefit for them may be considered as a positive and may also be included in the comparison process.
Tracking, observing and analyzing users
Product support activities need to implement tools, procedures, or any other practices that help the BVOPDM office in making decisions on what, how, why, and when to support.
Tracking the behavior of a significant enough amount of real users is the most realistic and valuable mechanism for collecting data about the status of the product and its users.
Observing and adjusting
The BVOPDM office may have a large number of activities. A lot of practices, procedures, and tools may be involved in product research, development, and support. A lot of interactions between organizational assets and third parties are often required.
The entire product lifecycle is usually a time and resource consuming process.
Observing the processes and practices for wastes is an important activity that saves the organization time and resources.
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