Successful SaaS companies are sure to possess a process for managing their SaaS products that are designed to ensure success of their SaaS products. Implementing an effective product management process is key to creating the best product with features that meet your customers' needs.
The product management process includes steps to initiate new products and features or iterate on existing product features and involves a series of tasks associated with each phase of the product lifecycle. It is a process of continuous hypothesis, experimentation, experience improvement, etc., from which we learn and experience to build real products.
As a SaaS product manager, you balance user experience, business goals, and technical feasibility in the product management process. This involves working with various teams and stakeholders, including customers, business leaders, designers, R&D engineers, marketers, customer support, etc.
Implementing an effective product management process can help the business and others understand the product's value quickly and clearly explain what will be sold and how the developed product will be converted into revenue. A good product management process maximizes the chances of success, validates different product solutions quickly, shapes the product around the user's core needs, and aggregates corporate resources.
The main phases of the SaaS product management process include identifying customers' problems, developing a hypothesis to solve the problem, developing a roadmap, prioritizing features, delivering to the teams, and analyzing the data. All these phases are carried out in a cycle until the end of the product lifecycle.
For different companies with different product projects and corporate strategies, the product management cycle may vary, and the steps to implement the product management process may also vary, making it difficult to generalize. Generally, we will divide the steps of the SaaS product management process into the following steps: idea generation, idea selection, market & user research, strategy development, product development, testing & feedback collection, and improvement of product iterations.
I. Idea Generation
Everyone must admit that coming up with new ideas is difficult, and there is no way to find new ideas at a moment's notice. To get good SaaS ideas, you need to change your concentration.
Most people focus too much on "finding ideas" in the idea-generation process and ignore the problem. This approach not only makes it difficult to find the right and valuable ideas, but it also makes it easy to get caught up in your selfishness. If you focus on finding a SaaS idea that will hit the industry and become the top of the line, you probably won't find it.
In the idea creation phase, you need to focus on identifying people's problems, not on finding ideas.
Every industry has its problems, and as a startup, it is more important to devote more time to problem identification and product idea generation. How to identify and finding problems quickly can be implemented effectively in the following two ways.
- Collection and research. Focus on an industry or field, look for trends, growing industries, or products with a high return on investment, collect this information in advance, and analyze those needs and problems that have not been solved.
- Brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming is a kind of divergent thinking style meeting. You need to create an atmosphere of idea development, reject criticism, no point of view is right or wrong, and not carry out the meeting with criticality. Brainstorming session participants are best mixed from different professional fields or backgrounds, so you can explore issues and ideas from different dimensions and promote innovation.
II. Idea Selection
When you have finished collecting the generated product ideas, you need to define the specifications. You can use the stage-gate management procedure to screen all the ideas by "pass or fail" and "score" and select the top three ideas you want to develop from the many product ideas. Then you can use SWOT (situational analysis) to filter out the ideas that seem attractive but are not achievable and select the ones with the most benefits and the best input costs.
In the phase of product idea screening, you need to try to describe your product idea in one clear sentence and answer the following questions：
- What problem am I trying to solve?
- How do I define its (the product idea's) success?
- How do I want my users to describe my product idea?
- Will others be willing to pay for my product idea?
III. Market & User Research
I have spent some time analyzing and studying some cases of failed startups and found that the first reason for failure in most failed startups is to create products without market demand.
It can be seen that market research and user research are one of the most core product management steps. Market and user research is critical to the success of your product. Market and user research allows you to identify the market situation, what your competitors are doing, trends in the industry, and what market gaps your product may fill.
Market and user research can be done using primary and secondary research. Primary research collects data from scratch to get the answers you need, such as primary data for analysis from first-hand research methods like questionnaires, in-depth interviews, or focus groups. Secondary research is based on data originally collected by others, such as various research journals, papers, newspaper clippings, annual statistical reports, and online sources.
The main elements of market research:
- Assessing the size of the target market
- Exploring the competitors' situation
- Analyzing the competitive advantages and disadvantages
- Finding the scope for improvement
In addition to market research, you also need to focus on the second point: user research. Product managers often neglect user research because most product managers put more emphasis on product design and operational data and are more passive about user research and analysis. In the phase of conducting user research, the output is the user portrait prototype, your user portrait prototype role contains the respective user attributes and characteristics, but there are two key points you must present: the user's needs and user desires.
In the market and user research process, we usually use secondary research to reach a qualitative conclusion and then conduct primary research based on this qualitative conclusion. This has the advantage of reducing unnecessary time and cost investment, aggregating problems, and finding solutions.