More about Going Backwards in product development

Working Backwards in Product Management blog entry from March 20, 2012 is further described in article from Shmula.com - a leading customer experience website -  Start with the Customer, and Work Backwards
Amazon follows a process called “Working Backwards”, which means that the first deliverables created are the documents at  launch, then work backwards towards the items closer to the implementation.  Defining a product this way adds clarity and simplicity — you know at the front-end what the customer can expect, and working backwards allows the team to build it.  Here are the general steps followed in this process:
  •  Start by writing the Press Release.  Nail it. The press release describes in a simple way what the product does and why it exists – what are the features and benefits. It needs to be very clear and to the point. Writing a press release up front clarifies how the world will see the product – not just how we think about it internally.
  •  Write a Frequently Asked Questions document. Here’s where we add meat to the skeleton provided by the press release. It includes questions that came up when we wrote the press release. You would include questions that other folks asked when you shared the press release and you include questions that define what the product is good for. You put yourself in the shoes of someone using the product and consider all the questions you would have. 
  • Define the customer experience. Describe in precise detail the customer experience for the different things a customer might do with the product. For products with a user interface, we would build mock ups of each screen that the customer uses. For web services, we write use cases, including code snippets, which describe ways you can imagine people using the product. The goal here is to tell stories of how a customer is solving their problems using the product. 
  • Write the User Manual. The user manual is what a customer will use to really find out about what the product is and how they will use it. The user manual typically has three sections, concepts, how-to, and reference, which between them tell the customer everything they need to know to use the product. For products with more than one kind of user, we write more than one user manual.
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