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Product Manager: Turning Ideas into a SaaS Product

Effectively communicating ideas to all stakeholders involved regardless of the nature of your business is crucial to creating a successful outcome, and it’s especially important when you are a product manager for a SaaS product.

As a Product Manager, you serve as a liaison between the sales team who has insights on your customers (from having personal verbal and digital communications with them), the marketing team that works on creating a dream for a potential target, and the developers who are actually building the technology.

Whether you are putting together a business requirements document, commenting on a design or simply expressing your product vision to marketing and sales, it’s almost impossible to avoid the semantics that occurs between different people in different roles.

Here is a typical scenario that plagues agile cloud technology companies every single day: a new idea is conceived through internal conversation, and it’s thought to become the next killer feature of your product. As the ideation phase commences, and thoughts are put on paper, the feature takes shape, and the idea starts becoming reality. Over the next several weeks, workshops are held amongst the teams to generate documentation and designs. And, this is where the issues start to appear.

Marketing uses their creative powers to describe the ideal version of the product, while sales tweaks it for a pitch, and developers call the feature “X” and get carried away in trying to perfect it.

But more importantly, everybody is facing the question: Is this what The User wants?

Solving the User’s Problem

Aside from a Product Manager, another must-have at every SaaS company is a Project Manager who can clarify the user’s problem to all stakeholders and focus everybody’s attention on solving it through functional design, user-friendly interface, necessary features and relatable language. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to gather feedback from the clients and potential leads and to document the specific words and quotes used to express their issues. But doing this type of analysis systematically while building your minimum viable SaaS product keeps every team member on the same page preventing them from drifting away from the main goal – providing value to The End User.

At CrossCap we’ve taken a more efficient approach to problem-solving when it comes to building new SaaS technology. When we are holding our initial workshops with various teams, we build a terminology document together that defines a name for each part of the feature, and we brainstorm the many different problems this feature can potentially solve.

Here are some of the questions that are helpful along the way:

• What problem does our user have?

• What words or phrases did he use to express his problem?

• What attitude did he express while describing his problem?

• Are we solving our clients’ problem, and if not, what problem are we solving?

• What are the other problems we can potentially solve?

By introducing this document as early as possible within the product development cycle, we are able to increase the time spent on focusing on the problem at hand by aligning all teams and efforts around one main goal – enhancing user experience. Because the key to success in a SaaS business is ensuring your product is flexible to meet the needs of your market.

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