Product Thinking
Answering Questions About Slow Product Development, the Difference Between SMEs and PMs, and Working With a Customer Success Team
March 22, 2023
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to respond when people say product development doesn't go fast enough, getting the business to understand that subject matter experts are not the same as PMS, and how to work with a customer success team. Q: I have often heard … stakeholders saying, ‘Product development doesn't go fast enough. Your product team spends too much time thinking; can we do less thinking and more doing?’ This usually comes from tech leaders who are more used to IT as a service, and salespeople who always feel we are one feature away from winning our new client. I have learned that trying to evangelize about product discovery is usually a lost battle. …Sometimes discovery, once done, looks obvious and when we avoid the risk, it's hard to prove. …Also, sometimes product people get too deep into discovery, try to validate too many hypotheses. …What do you think here? A: This is a great question and something I do run into a lot with companies. I have also been in the position where people are like, ‘Oh, we don't need discovery or we don't need to do that.’ I have realized over time that there is a balance. Here's one thing that might actually help you in this situation. Q: How do you shift the business perspective when they tend to view a subject matter expert as the ideal product manager? As such, the primary value they want is to write contextualized stories for the scrum team. They don't have knowledge of the rest of the discipline and don't want teammates that can go outside that box. That role is typically reserved for the business general manager who is the true CEO of the product A: People don't really understand the role of a product manager and in your case, it sounds like they are definitely operating like product owners and not full product managers. A lot of times people think that product management is like 100% subject matter expertise. …Product managers do need to have some subject matter expertise, but they don't need to have all of it. Here’s what I think you should do. Q: My company operates in the B2B space and has grown a lot in a short space of time. In the early days, the product team had daily contact with our customers and dealt with all kinds of customer requests and feedback apart from commercial queries, which were handled by an account management team. As we scaled, the company has created a customer success function, as we recognize that product couldn't handle all inquiries from customers. The customer success team is great and provides fantastic insights on our customers and their needs. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell where to draw the line and responsibilities of the teams. What is the best way for us to work together collaboratively but with clear distinction of responsibilities?  A: Customer success is the nature of a growing team. You'll always have some kind of customer success, sales team, account management, all that wonderful stuff in a B2B space as you grow. And those teams are actually gold. You know why? Because they deal with all the customer inquiries, all the questions that you can't deal with as you start to scale and as you come up with more and more things that you need to build. Here’s what I would do to solidify the team, so everyone knows what is and isn’t their responsibility. Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com | CPO Accelerator
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to respond when people say product development doesn't go fast enough, getting the business to understand that subject matter experts are not the same as PMS, and how to work with a customer success team. Q: I have often heard … stakeholders saying, ‘Product development doesn't go fast enough. Your product team spends too much time thinking; can we do less thinking and more doing?’ This usually comes from tech leaders who are more used to IT as a service, and salespeople who always feel we are one feature away from winning our new client. I have learned that trying to evangelize about product discovery is usually a lost battle. …Sometimes discovery, once done, looks obvious and when we avoid the risk, it's hard to prove. …Also, sometimes product people get too deep into discovery, try to validate too many hypotheses. …What do you think here? A: This is a great question and something I do run into a lot with companies. I have also been in the position where people are like, ‘Oh, we don't need discovery or we don't need to do that.’ I have realized over time that there is a balance. Here's one thing that might actually help you in this situation. Q: How do you shift the business perspective when they tend to view a subject matter expert as the ideal product manager? As such, the primary value they want is to write contextualized stories for the scrum team. They don't have knowledge of the rest of the discipline and don't want teammates that can go outside that box. That role is typically reserved for the business general manager who is the true CEO of the product A: People don't really understand the role of a product manager and in your case, it sounds like they are definitely operating like product owners and not full product managers. A lot of times people think that product management is like 100% subject matter expertise. …Product managers do need to have some subject matter expertise, but they don't need to have all of it. Here’s what I think you should do. Q: My company operates in the B2B space and has grown a lot in a short space of time. In the early days, the product team had daily contact with our customers and dealt with all kinds of customer requests and feedback apart from commercial queries, which were handled by an account management team. As we scaled, the company has created a customer success function, as we recognize that product couldn't handle all inquiries from customers. The customer success team is great and provides fantastic insights on our customers and their needs. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell where to draw the line and responsibilities of the teams. What is the best way for us to work together collaboratively but with clear distinction of responsibilities?  A: Customer success is the nature of a growing team. You'll always have some kind of customer success, sales team, account management, all that wonderful stuff in a B2B space as you grow. And those teams are actually gold. You know why? Because they deal with all the customer inquiries, all the questions that you can't deal with as you start to scale and as you come up with more and more things that you need to build. Here’s what I would do to solidify the team, so everyone knows what is and isn’t their responsibility. Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com | CPO Accelerator

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