We just released the next version of mobile browser called Skyfire 2.0. It is truly madly deeply a great product. It solves the problem that none of the products do solve, and it is openly admitted that it is a problem. I am part of the product management group which was responsible for developing this product from day-0 when we had nothing but a dream of achieving this incredible goal. In retrospect, looking back by six months of project spanning seven grilling sprints in the Agile project management phases, I have learned a good lesson in product management.
The learning in this article is about the grouping of features. Distribute problems to a set of groups and then reach the ultimate goal by solving one-problem at a time with the biggest or complex problem at first. The huge success of our product is attributed to defining the problem definition and solving it faster, better and cheaper than anyone in the market.I have a crude analogy of this entire learning in the medical terms.
The functionalities have four major groups analgesic, vitamins, steroids, and placebos. The first set of features is analgesic, which is typically a pain killer, this group solves the biggest problem that was defined. It is like stopping bleading or reducing fever/ pain. It solves the problem that the product is designed. For instance, Skyfire 2.0 plays flash videos on mobile phones, which no other browsers do. In this case our pain was identification and specification of different formats of videos. According to Pareto analysis the majority of the videos are flash based. So, our analgesic function was to play flash videos. We focused only on trying to solve this issue first even before designing the UI of the browser.
The next set of functionalities are grouped as vitamins. This group has routine must have and major functionalities. For instance, if you are developing a browser you would look at the basic minimum functionalities for navigation, bookmarking and security features that the browser should have. This is a basic building blocks on which other features stand.
The next set of WOW factors come from steroids, this is a unique differentiators and core functionalities that enhances that existing product or service. Playing flash video is not a WOW factor as it was the main problem we were trying to solve. So, in this case the providing users with related videos, tweets, other social media information, buzz about the topic or webpage the user is browsing, and providing the user with augmented reality information is critical.
The last set of features which is most important adhesive to hold all these features to build good story are placebos. Yes, it is placebos. Giving shots or bitter medicine is not always the solution. Rather a sugar coated placebo can solve most of the problem. It does not mean that it does nothing, in product management it only means that it fills the gaps, makes intelligent patches that makes the product complete. For instance, you could provide flash video in any format once you know how to fix it but, we chose the way some of augmented reality works in Android. Without disturbing the page or navigation the video and other related information is placed neatly where it will be intuitive to users. Also the small things such as progress bars, scroll bars, toolbars, settings, and so on.
In summary, one of the easy ways to think of a product and its features and creating them which will have greatest impact is by groupng the features into analgesic, vitamins, steroids, and placebos. If all of this is adrressed it ensured you have covered the complete product from all aspects.