I am a junior product manager. What do I do for market research, Ram?
Ram Almog is co-founder and CEO of Red Interactive Design creating creative digital designs and interactive media solutions.
He has a long and diverse experience in product management. He has been working as a teacher, product creator, and manager for the last twenty-three years. He has more than six years of experience as CEO of the To-Be-Education platform, which teachers and publishers used for transforming their content in role-playing for better instruction methods. Ram also created Mindri, an innovative start-up that developed integrated products to aid students with intellectual disabilities and improve cognitive skills. He worked for five years at Edusoft Ltd. An interactive learning platform in several roles like creative director, project leader, and product manager.
Today talking to young product managers, he shared his experiences, working strategies, and advice on managing the quality and quantity of products in time.
His takeaway messages from the session are the following:
- Ram explained what design sprint methodology is. The sprint starts with an idea, and the results are tested with a prototype in only one week. This extensive procedure of product designing is built to produce better products at a very much faster rate. In this Ideation process, the type of product is characterized, and all key stakeholders are gathered. The challenges associated with the product are identified. The most promising solution is selected, porotype, and validated by five users. An interview takes the feedback from the users.
- He guided us about deciding a particular feature or capability addition to a product. First, we need to be clear about what are we trying to achieve, what kind of problem or challenge we are going to solve? The core feature we are going to add should be the answer. Starting the thinking process from the top will save enough time and resources by testing the product before release.
- His experience has proved you can collect sufficient qualitative research data from five actual users. It provides 80% of the total input data needed to move forward. The feedback from users is collected in the context of the product directly in an empathetic way.
- The solution is half-baked during the prototype testing, but it should be presented as accurate for evaluation. The evaluation should avoid yes/no or multiple-choice survey forms. The information collected firsthand from the user’s mouth is accurate and reliable.
- Ram told about the procedure of design sprint at his company. It starts with a one-week interview session of all stakeholders of a project like customer care, sales, marketing, R&D, product, designer, facilitator, and a decision-maker like CEO or product manager. The interviews provide information to understand the client’s schedule. After this research, the team decides how success will look like and run the first design sprint. Then the second round of design sprint is carried to fill the gaps called Iteration sprint.
- The theme of sprint methodology is, getting started is more important than being right. The cost of failure is very low for a weeklong practice instead of spending so much time on user interviews, analyzing opportunities, collecting numbers for months.
- The design sprint is a short process, and for large projects, only a tiny portion is selected. The priorities are established, and multiple product design sprints are created, each focusing on small portions.
- Regardless of sprint numbers, the context is always the center of focus. Creativity always goes together with design and engineering. Sprints should be designed to reduce the time interval without compromising the quality of the product.
- Ram explained the benefits of online qualitative research. With current online communication tools available like zoom, conducting qualitative user testing from the actual target region is now possible. It provides the flexibility to schedule the interviews anytime, and the option to record the interview can be used later as proof of work. In qualitative research, usability testing is not necessary and can perform passive testing. For example, the users can show a video of the product and asked what they think, expect, and want to happen in the product.
- Ram suggested viewing a video by Jake Map on 5-Act user interviews outlining all the steps required for online user interviews. Getting the conducting user is a hugely painful process. Ram has done several videos on his YouTube channel on how to get users and conduct the testing.
- Having an idea of the market before the product is beneficial. If the testing user is searched at the potential market, it will double the customer reach. For example, most consumer products are sold, so testing should be done using the Facebook platform. For B2B type products, advertising in Facebook groups and craigslist advertising are helpful. Getting managers and CEO-level users for testing, LinkedIn is the better place to search.
- Ram strongly advised the product managers in the tech industry to develop a lot of technical knowledge and know-how to code and programming if not, then take courses. Understanding business context is critical to do a job successfully. You are assigned to develop a great product, not just the delivery of features. They usually start with the word why are we doing and how will success look like, how might we do that. Ask right questions you will be valuable.
He gave a checklist of when one should not use the sprint design method:
- When the cost of failure in actual testing is not significantly high, one can test the actual product.
- When the product feature can be tested only by the designed prototype.
- When designing the sprint method cannot identify the challenge.
- When the actual prototype does not cost much time and money, it is better to test rather than design a sprint.
- When you do not have a good idea of what you are going to check.
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