On Monday 17 December 2018, Cognism’s VP of Product, Cinzia Ricciardone, took part in ScaleUp Academy’s ScaleUp Heroes podcast. ScaleUp Academy is an online platform for business leaders to share their advice and experience in growing companies from the ground up.
This time, the topic under discussion was Scaling Product - how product teams have to define and solve problems as a business grows. As an experienced Head of Product with a demonstrated history of developing and launching both greenfield and legacy rebuilds, Cinzia was well-placed to add her thoughts to this insightful talk.
Alongside Cinzia, the other participants were:
1. Create a Problem Solving Process
The panel agreed that the biggest issue facing product teams in scaling companies is how to define any problems that arise. Their advice was to create a process for defining and solving any product problems.
These are the questions that any problem solving process should strive to answer:
What is the problem?
Why is it necessary to solve it?
For whom do you want to solve it?
What are the criteria for success?
Once the problem has been defined, it then becomes much easier to align with the business leadership and allocate resources to solve it.
One good piece of advice from Cinzia is that an effective product team should be actively seeking out problems before they arise. This can be done in several ways, from studying analytics in order to predict any future difficulties, to observing users as they engage with the product.
2. Think Long-Term
An important piece of advice from the participants. When a business is scaling, it’s vital for product teams to think long-term. The goal for a good product team is not just to solve problems for today or this week, but to solve any problems that come up in future. The idea is to provide solutions that future-proof the product when it comes to new features, new designs and new integrations.
Cinzia believed that this should be a cross-functional team effort. A product team should review internal and external feedback for long-term trends, rather than short-term fixes. It’s always useful to keep expansion in mind when dealing with product problems; this is especially important for scaling businesses.
3. Involve Others in Decision Making
Every product manager knows that strategic decision making only gets harder the more the company scales. The way to overcome this is to involve all parties in product decision making.
In the first instance, all other teams in the business should be consulted in solving product problems. Scaling a product is a team effort that doesn’t just involve the product team.
Secondly, it’s also important to involve users in the decision making process. This can be done through client visits or by asking the customer success team for their feedback. Asking customers for their thoughts is an integral part of any business, but it’s more difficult for B2B companies, who often have fewer clients than their B2C counterparts. Also, B2B clients usually have less time to talk, as much of their daily time is taken up with work.
Cinzia stressed that the role of the product team is to balance their needs against the needs of other departments, and the needs of the customer.
4. Build a Strong Team
One thing the whole panel agreed on was the need to build a strong product team. Without having the right people in place, solving problems and creating a quality, impactful product becomes much harder.
When the right team has been hired, it’s up to the VP of Product to create the right structure and empower each team member to experiment and reach a decision.
So that was Cognism’s contribution to the ScaleUp Heroes podcast. To watch the full talk and gain even more insights and inspirations, click here.