After interviewing a diverse range of product managers and marketing leaders, we often heard that bringing the right product features and capabilities to market is a daunting challenge. Why is this? The common trend that we’ve heard at PlanQube is that there are overwhelming amounts of information, and never enough time to analyze the data in a meaningful way to make informed decisions. Similar to a pilot flying toward their destination, how do they know when to turn the plane or adjust altitude to catch a tail wind? The instrumentation within the cockpit provides real time data to track small changes so they can quickly make adjustments before it is too late. For those of us in the product development world, we need to do the same – track and measure to the impact of our decisions and understand the outcomes quicker, rather than the proverbial “flying by the seat of our pants.” What’s the best way to do that? Consider a methodology called outcomes based planning.
Outcomes based planning is an elastic framework that puts a focus on the priorities that resonate in the marketplace. This is accomplished by using evidence to justify and support product and marketing decisions. Despite the challenges of building a viable product, having relevant metrics that measure customer engagement juxtaposed against a product roadmap promotes a sense of knowing when and what will succeed (or fail) quickly.
Imagine if you could quickly learn that the “cool” product widget does not help drive customer conversion. You could make the necessary course corrections to pivot the changes and improve viability. If you can do this on a weekly or monthly basis, rather than quarterly or worse, annually, just imagine the impact that can be made. Your multi-million dollar engineering and marketing roadmap won’t have to crash and burn. It’s not magic; it’s using data you already have in the best way possible.
The methodology behind outcomes based planning is to shorten the gap between goals and outcomes. This results in increased efficiency, product-roadmap optimization, and an ease of execution through justified belief. In a recent discussion with a client (a VP of Product), he shared his experience of having to change the way his team approached product development and marketing. He informed us on how the organization was operating, and how they often were missing their goals in the marketplace with their product. In a roadmap planning session earlier that month, the executive team had asked the product team, “Why are we introducing this new feature when we have three other features being rolled out?” The lead product manager had a great presentation that made a lot of sense and justified the new feature. But one thing that he couldn’t show was quantifying the impact of the decision as it relates to the overall company goals; a cornerstone of outcomes based planning.
As we worked together establishing the outcomes based planning framework, the client quickly discovered that when a team isn’t able to measure their impact, or not able to answer the how, when, and why a new product or feature is necessary, teams often miss their targets. They figured that it is essential to plan with the end goal in mind. Planning the impact that they are delivering to their customers, aligning the team to the same goals, and measuring the results needed to all be priorities. In doing so, they learned to be more focused, how to course-correct quickly, and execute more effectively.
While tracking and measuring may seem like a common sense principle for pilots flying to their destination, we have found that product managers and product marketers also need to take the same approach in the way they track and measure to achieve their product goals. As our client stated, “Connecting the goals to outcomes is the fastest way to identify where the gaps are and how to get to success faster.” How do you know when you’re going to hit turbulence or the jet stream that gets you there faster? By utilizing outcomes based planning, you can measure your way to success.