May
07

Start-ups: Go Lean or Go Home – Usability and Getting it right

By on May 7, 2010

While methodologies and approaches vary in product management and product marketing there is always room to improve on what we all do today through iterative process and fact based approaches.  Lean, waterfall, agile, scrum, RUP, whatever – Dan Olsen has prepared another interesting presentation which was delivered at the Web 2.0 Expo in SF.  While I see directionally where the presentation is going and can easily understand the fundamentals put forth, I’m left a little bit wanting, since it implies that build technology quickly that users like and do it efficiently and you will be successful.  More specifically, here is what Dan said @ in an interview for his pitch at the Web 2.0 expo:

My fundamental philosophy on product management… you need to start with a user-centric point of view, Dan Olsen

I’ve got a good deal of respect and appreciation for Dan’s approach to using a metric based approach to feature prioritization and he is really interesting to talk to about this topic since he is passionate about usability.   Dan’s latest endeavor YourVersion is a live example of his methodology in action – he eats his own dog food around  early stage companies and has a proven track record with this approach.

From my perspective, I’ve historically taken a different approach to feature prioritization, but I’ve never been in a start up. While not in a traditional start up, I have launched new products from concept and grow them to say $40M in revenue in short timeline with material positive impact to bottom line leveraging a problem centric approach.    It might be that the difference in my viewpoint is the context of B2B vs. B2C, instead of late stage vs. early stage.   In that context, the only thing I would add, is that while usability is critical in products where the buyer and the user are the same person, it may not be as important  for success in more complex B2B technology solution areas when multiple functional groups, users and business drivers exist.

Can a product be successful with if the product has usability issues?  Is there some product that you use right now in your business which while not elegantly designed provides significant value to your business, but is not a user favorite or difficult to use? …(CRM, SFA, ERP, SCM, Requirements Mgt)….

I can think of a handful in just a few seconds which match this pattern, some which I even built ;)

Net-Net – Dan has provided a good deal of information for me to think about and the approach is definitely solid for a more technical approach to product management and prioritization, but it begs a few questions which I personally need to think about from a product marketing perspective for B2B technology products:

  • What can I do with the data returned to improve the effectiveness of  a given product in the marketplace?
  • How can I connect the features and feedback to demonstrate differentiated value for buyers?
  • Does the information gathered provide me a way to improve how I can speak to the market and buyers?

Comments

  1. jon gatrell says:

    Startups: Go Lean or Go Home – Usability and Getting it right http://bit.ly/ca8osh

  2. Dennis Hall says:

    RT @spatially: Startups: Go Lean or Go Home – Usability and Getting it right http://bit.ly/ca8osh

  3. jon gatrell says:

    Start-ups: Go Lean or Go Home – Usability and Getting it right http://bit.ly/ca8osh

  4. KikScore says:

    V. Good post & slides: Start-ups: Go Lean or Go Home – Usability and Getting it right http://bit.ly/9G8USk #entrepreneur

  5. KallyLou says:

    RT @kikscore: V. Good post & slides: Start-ups: Go Lean or Go Home – Usability and Getting it right http://bit.ly/9G8USk #entrepreneur

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