Mo Risks, Mo Problems

A lot of risk exists when releasing a new product or feature. Even the best product organizations get it wrong sometimes. Remember the Amazon Fire Phone, Netflix launching Qwikster, Facebook Deals, the original Apple Maps app and the graveyard of failed Google products?

The thing is, product is hard. The smartest leaders are well aware that the majority of launches will not have a positive ROI. That’s one of the reasons why Agile is so important, so you can learn fast and make improvements iteratively.

One way to improve your chances of success is to collaborate with engineering, design and stakeholders to mitigate against the four major risks:

  1. Usability Risk: Is it intuitive? Will the users figure out how to use it?
    • The designer is responsible for assessing the usability risk.
    • This is the designers opportunity to create some high fidelity or low fidelity prototypes to share with the team.
  2. Feasibility Risk: Can we build it? Do we have the tech, time and skills required?
    • The engineers are responsible for assessing the feasibility risk. It’s important to get the engineers involved early to determine feasibility.
    • This is the engineers opportunity to build a feasibility prototype to test things like algorithm changes or performance issues.
  3. Business Viability Risk: Does it make sense for the business?
    • The PM is responsible for determining the business viability risk.
    • This where the PMs intimate knowledge of the business, industry, customer and data come in to play. This is where as a PM you have to decide on what the ROI is going to look like, and if it’s even worth it.
  4. Value Risk: Will the customers buy it? Will the users use it?
    • The PM is responsible for evaluating the value as well.
    • This isn’t necessarily the same as the usability risk. Think of the value risk as a combination of usability, feasibility and viability.

If you haven’t noticed already, collaborating with your team to determine risks is highly reliant on creating prototypes. Prototypes are a great way to get the team around something that they can touch and feel to discuss and get feedback. I have written about some of the different types of prototypes that can be used to collaborate here.

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