PODCAST #14. How to Excel in Strategic Planning for Effective Product Management: Tips from an Industry Expert
During this episode of our Careminds podcast, we discuss the complexities of product management and go-to-market strategies with our guest, Donna Cichani. Donna has a background in product management, A/B testing, and data analysis, and has worked with notable organizations such as Johns Hopkins Medicine, KPMG US, and JP Morgan. Currently, she is the lead product manager at Heal.
Our conversation with Donna covers topics like data analysis and strategic product planning, the differing mindsets between 0 to 1 and one to end product development, and methods to increase user engagement and product optimization. Drawing from her diverse experience in industries like healthcare, technology, banking, and finance, Donna shares her thoughts on the importance of strategic planning in product management.
Defining Success Criteria for Product Stages
When determining the success of a product, you consider both the user perspective and the business perspective. Using the example of an RPM solution called Pulse, designed for chronic disease management at Heal, we can explore the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that matter most.
Firstly, there are patient-centric KPIs that focus on adoption and usage. Monitoring how often users engage with the solution to record their vitals and biometrics is crucial. The main goal is to encourage patients to stay proactive in managing their chronic conditions by using the solution more frequently.
User centricity is key, focusing on how you are improving life and the experience for the end user.
Secondly, clinical outcomes are also important. By tracking improvements in specific health measures, such as A1C levels for diabetic patients or maintaining healthy blood pressure ranges for hypertensive patients, we can gauge the effectiveness of the solution in promoting better health.
Also, business KPIs, such as attribution, play a significant role. For the RPM solution, it is important to know what percentage of patients using the solution are attributed to Heal for their primary care doctors.
Defining the best approach for optimizing a product depends on the specific product and its maturity curve. Take, for example, the RPM solution mentioned earlier. The primary goal of any RPM solution is to encourage users to engage with it consistently and measure their biometrics routinely.
At one point, the team behind the RPM solution considered expanding its features to include medication refill reminders, envisioning a more comprehensive ecosystem for patient monitoring. However, they quickly recognized the importance of perfecting their core RPM capabilities before adding secondary features. By maintaining focus on their core competency, they ensured they wouldn’t dilute the solution’s main purpose.
Optimization often involves considering the user experience, especially when it comes to healthcare solutions. In the case of the RPM solution, refining its core features contributed significantly to increased patient engagement. This example highlights the importance of prioritizing the optimization of a product’s primary functions before expanding its scope.
When to Focus on New Features or Enhancements in Product Development
You should invest heavily in user research as it’s crucial for driving customer adoption and engagement. During the discovery phase, our team spent considerable time observing patients in their natural environments, using existing products like glucometers, and capturing their day-to-day experiences. This research also included understanding how nurses, doctors, and other providers utilized data points during home visits.
By conducting ethnography studies, user research, and interviews, we were able to identify key pain points, which we then translated into enhancements and feature opportunities to drive engagement. To ensure customer adoption, it’s essential to focus on understanding users’ pain points, observe their interactions with your product or similar products, and avoid relying solely on secondary sources or high-level questions.
I don’t think that user research for usability testing ends during the discovery phase.
It’s important to note that user research and usability testing don’t end during the discovery phase. After creating our first prototype, we went through two additional rounds of usability testing to validate our assumptions, identify any flaws in our user flow, and refine the solution iteratively. This process continued up until the launch of the minimum viable product (MVP).
The ability of product managers to remain detached from their original plans, even after investing significant time and effort, is fascinating. When real data no longer supports the initial plan, it’s crucial to let it go, find a new direction, and create a better product that serves users more effectively. This adaptability is an essential aspect of successful product management.
Effective Optimization Techniques & The Best Ways to Apply Them
Optimization techniques focus on understanding existing processes, examining them through the lens of various stakeholders involved in the end-to-end flow, and identifying opportunities for efficiencies. For instance, by analyzing a process that takes 10 days and involves five stakeholders, you can uncover ways to reduce the number of stakeholders or the time each takes to complete their part.
Process mapping, a technique that visually represents the steps involved in a process, helps identify bottlenecks, redundancies, and areas for improvement. A/B testing is another valuable technique, where two different versions of a feature or product are tested with the target audience to determine which performs better.
In my experience, one of the keys to successful optimization is to involve the entire team in the process.
Involving the entire team, including product, engineering, design, sales, and marketing, leads to a more holistic view of challenges and opportunities, ultimately driving better optimization decisions. Keeping the end user in mind is crucial, as the goal is to enhance their experience.
It’s important to acknowledge that the rapid growth of product management as a career has led to a mix of undisputed go-to practices and those still being defined through trial and error. Sharing experiences and learning from others in the community can help navigate this evolving field and contribute to its development.
What Drives a Product Manager: The Exciting Facets of a PM’s Career
Effective management in product management involves three key aspects. First, tailor your approach to the needs of each individual on your team, recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Second, invest in the long-term career growth of your team members, extending beyond the scope of your organization, by providing mentorship and opportunities for personal and professional development.
The third aspect involves being able to oversee the work of your team without micromanaging, while still being prepared to jump in and help when necessary. Balancing trust and autonomy with support is essential for successful management.
It’s an exciting time for all the PMs because we are focusing on doing good and building impactful products and services that can make people’s lives better.
In terms of current excitement in the field, AI and machine learning are opening many doors in product management. There’s a rewarding shift in focus in both healthcare and fintech industries. In fintech, increased emphasis on financial literacy and access to banking products for the unbanked population is driving positive change. Meanwhile, healthcare is moving towards value-based care, focusing on preventative measures and overall population health, which reduces costs and the burden on the healthcare system. This is an exciting time for product managers as they work on building impactful products and services that improve people’s lives.
As product managers continue to navigate this rapidly evolving field, learning from industry experts like Donna and sharing experiences within the community will be invaluable in driving growth and creating impactful products that make a difference in people’s lives. Key takeaways from our conversation include:
- Defining success criteria for product stages: It’s crucial to consider both user and business perspectives when determining the success of a product.
- Focusing on core competencies in optimization: Prioritize optimizing a product’s primary functions before expanding its scope or adding new features.
- Conducting user research and embracing adaptability: Engage in user research, usability testing, and iterate on your product based on data and feedback, and remain open to change when necessary.
- Effective management and exciting developments in the field: Tailor your approach to individual team members, invest in their long-term career growth, and maintain a balance between autonomy and support. Embrace the exciting opportunities in AI, machine learning, and the shifting focus of various industries.
The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.
Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?
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