Product management: don't forget the enticers!Written by Erik Sacré on 28 Jan 2013.
There are a bunch of rules one has to follow when baking bread commercially. Food and health regulations specify ranges and tolerances such as the minimum and maximum amount of grains, but also the maximum percentage of residue coming from bugs (yuck!). Somebody who follows all of these rules, and bakes a bread that gets close to all of these maximum values has a bread that is approved by these regulations, but nobody would come close to eating it. It just does not taste right!
I feel a lot of the same is happening in software product management. Product managers are so focused on adding business value that they forget to entice the users. The result is a capable but very bland product that nobody gets excited about. This may be all right in a market with little competition, but it is a recipe for failure in a competitive market.
Today’s customers are spoiled. They get very fancy applications with lots of features that add ‘wow’ to the product, but that in a strict sense are not required from a business value point of view. As a modern product manager one of the skills we should demonstrate is knowing how to balance between three types of requirement:
Baseline features must be there, or you do not have a product. No discussion needed. Linear features are of the type ‘the more, the merrier’, but if you run out of time you can drop (some of) them. The really interesting ones are the enticers. These are features a user loves to have, but she doesn’t realize it yet.
Although the baseline and linear features make sure the product does what it needs to do, it’s the enticers that will make a difference and seduce customers.
Prioritizing requirements is just one of the things an agile product manager does. A nice presentation on this and more can be found here. It is made by Mike Cohn, known for his books on agile estimating & planning and on applying user stories.