The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® 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
- Tracking, observing and analyzing users
- Observing and adjusting
- 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.
The following issues related to chapter "Product support activities" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of May 31, 2023, 10:28 pm
|0||Users’ behavior changes||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|1||Practical factors||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|2||Context and environmental changes||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|3||New or changing user needs||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|4||Tracking, observing and analyzing users||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|5||Cognitive factors||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|6||Usability issues||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|7||Different users’ perceptions of the product||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|8||New skills accumulated by the users||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|9||Comparison of the product with competitive ones||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|10||Social and other beneficial factors||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|11||Emotional factors||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|12||Observing and adjusting||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|13||Functional factors||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|14||User needs leading to functional workarounds and hacks||60 sec||PDM, PM|
|15||Disappointment||60 sec||PDM, PM|
Comments from the BVOP™ community on “Product support activities”
Product success depends on user demands and changes in user needs, perceptions, behavior, and skills, as well as comparison with competitors. Ongoing support in areas like marketing, sales, research, and development is necessary to address these dynamic variables.
Products may need to adapt to changing user needs over time, such as a need for a sturdier water bottle while jogging. The BVOPDM office handles these changes and makes decisions based on the users' demands and estimated resources. They strive to fulfill user needs with minimal effort.
Users' perceptions of a product can change over time, which affects their emotions toward it. The BVOPDM office must be aware of these changes and differentiate between temporary and permanent ones to avoid unnecessary investments in product support. Permanent changes should be prioritized over temporary ones.
Users may change their behavior while using a product due to usability issues, their needs for workarounds, disappointment, and changes in context. Usability issues can lead to users finding alternative ways to use the product or even stopping using it altogether. Users with specific needs may seek out workarounds or force functionalities to do something different than intended. Disappointment can cause a drop in product usage or even harmful actions.
Users can change the context or environment in which they use a product, such as switching from desktop to mobile. They may also acquire new skills and knowledge over time, leading to different usage of the product.
Users naturally compare products they use with others based on emotional, cognitive, functional, practical, social, and other factors. Emotional factors are unpredictable and based on past experiences, current emotional state, surrounding environment, cultural specifics, and influences by others.
Cognition refers to the process of learning, remembering, and using new information. People learn at different rates and levels of understanding, which can affect how they compare products. The functional capabilities of a product are important in determining whether users like it or find it useful. Practical factors, such as how a product fits into a user's lifestyle, can also influence their opinion. Additionally, users may consider how a product affects their social status or any other additional benefits it may offer.
To support products, the BVOPDM office needs to track and analyze user behavior. This helps them make decisions on how to support the product. Observing and adjusting practices is also important to save time and resources. The product lifecycle is a long process that involves many interactions with third parties. It's important to observe processes for waste.
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Hello! I read this article carefully. Am I right in thinking that these ideas and suggestions for product support strategies might probably be best for Agile workflows and software products that can be easily modified? I work in a completely different and traditional industry where modern principles can hardly be applied. Is it possible to create a system of rules and methodology in the 21st century to cover all possible types of products and support the development of physically, slowly changing products consumed by highly conservative consumers? Thank you for your attention. Lisa
Hello! Based on the information in your message, it seems that you have read an article about product support strategies and are wondering if the ideas and suggestions in the article are best suited for Agile workflows and easily modifiable software products. It is possible that these strategies may be more applicable to Agile workflows and software products that can be easily modified, but that doesn't mean they can't be adapted to other types of industries or products. You mention that you work in a traditional industry where modern principles may be difficult to apply. While it may be challenging to implement modern principles in certain industries, it is still possible to create a system of rules and methodology in the 21st century that can cover different types of products and support their development. This may require some creativity and flexibility in adapting the strategies to fit the needs of your industry or product. Ultimately, the effectiveness of any product support strategy will depend on the specific context in which it is applied. It may be helpful to consult with experts in your industry or seek out case studies of similar products to see how others have approached product support in your field.