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Product support activities

The following article is a sample from the full BVOP™ Ultimate Guide and is part of the preparation for BVOP™'s modern agile Product Management Certification Program.

After a product is released to the market and active users adopt it, its existing is influenced by the users' demands and their changes in different aspects like: 

  • New or changing user needs.
  • Different users perceptions and understanding of the product.
  • Changed users behavior.
  • 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 change their needs. 

For example, a user 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 solid when I am jogging”. Or “I need my bottle of water to be very light and solid 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 and makes decisions for changing the product or some parts of it, based on the magnitude of the users' demands and the estimated resources needed for applying the changes.

Typical question amongst the BVOPDM office members before taking any changes should be “Can we change or adapt the product with minimum effort but providing the maximum of the users need”?

Different users perceptions and understanding of the product

Humans change their perception about their surrounding world and environment regularly.

One event or object may be perceived differently over time. This reflects on the users' periodicity of using a product or their emotions while they are using it.

It is natural for people to feel disappointment about a product or parts of it.

The BVOPDM office needs a mature awareness for facing these fluctuations.

Changes in users may be analyzed carefully because it may be a reason for unnecessary investing in product support activities. 

Temporary and permanent changes are differentiated in order wastes and product degradation to be avoided.

The BVOPDM office should invest efforts in permanent changes prior to the temporary ones.

Changed behavior of the users

Users may change their behavior while using the product based on factors like:

  • Usability issues
  • User needs leading to functional workarounds and hacks
  • Disappointment
  • Context and environmental changes

Usability issues

If the users are experiencing difficulties using the product, they may have different then the expected behavior.

If users cannot easily use some functionality, they may stop using it or they may use it differently than expected and desired way.

User needs leading to functional workarounds and hacks

Some users may need to do something faster or differently than the product is designed. This may make a user looking for another way to do something. They may start searching for weak areas or to force some functionalities to do something different than designed.

Disappointment

The disappointment of users is unpredicted and hard to track variable. It most cases it may cause a drop in product usage, but disappointment may also provoke users to do negative actions.

Context and environmental changes

Users may change the context of using the product or completely change the environment in which they use the product.

Switching from desktop to mobile or wearable context for technological products is a very common example.

Users may change the entire surrounding environment. Moving from work to the gym or from home to the mountain are typical examples where users may change their behavior completely.

New skills, accumulated by the users

With time users accumulate more skills while using products. They gain their knowledge or become faster that may lead to different usage of the product.

Comparison of the product with competitive ones

It is natural for users to compare the products they use with others. Users have their own feelings, emotions and impressions 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 

Emotional factors include how users feel about a product at a given time. These factors may be unpredicted and may be based on:

  • Users past experience
  • Current emotional state
  • Surrounding environment
  • Cultural specifics
  • Influences by others 

Cognitive factors

An easy simple definition of cognition is the process of humans learning and remembering new information and the way they use it. Different people learn the same information with different velocity, intensity, depth, and understanding. 

Users may compare products based on their own cognitive abilities.

Functional factors

Functional capabilities of a product may be crucial in users impressions. What the product may offer to the users is very important in taking the decision if the users “like” the product or they are willing to use it now or in the future. 

Functional factors are also related to the affordance and the usability state of the product.

Practical factors

After assessing the functionality of a product, users may create their own visions and ideas for what they would use the product for. Some users may find more practical applications than originally designed ones. If users discover more value in a product then the expected, they may change their behavior and try to adapt the product for their own needs. Users see this adaptation as a benefit and they gain their general positive impression about the product.

Social and other beneficial factors

Users may compare products based on how a product may affect their social status. Any other benefit for the user that can be acquired may be considered as a positive and may also be included in the comparison process of the products by the users.

Tracking, observing and analyzing users

Product support activities need to include implementing tools, procedures or any other practices that help the BVOPDM office in taking decisions on what, how, why and when to support.

Tracking the behavior of big 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 an extensive number of activities. A lot of practices, procedures, and tools may be involved in the product research, development and support and massive interactions between organizational assets and third parties are often required.

The entire product lifecycle is usually time and resources consuming process.

Observing the processes and practices for wastes is an important activity that saves the organization time and resources.

Product Support activities in Product Management
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