Build Better Internal Products
How can product managers build better team member facing products?
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Early in my career, I worked on some of the core applications used by team members in my company to help our customers daily. I would write up work for our software developers in a way that made great technical sense to me. However, when we launched the enhancements, I consistently found adoption was poor, and team members didn’t love the changes.
I realized over time that if you are supporting internal products, it is critical to have conversations with the team members who will be using the changes to understand the best way to make the change, how to roll out the changes, and to get the buy-in critical to adoption. Here are a few things to consider when looking for ways to build better internal products.
1. Seek feedback from your team members before writing your requirements
No matter how busy or stressed team members at each company I’ve worked at have been, I have yet to come across a situation where zero people were willing to have a conversation about a problem they had using software in their daily work.
If you are going to be solving a problem with a software product you are supporting that involves users that are team members, I would recommend connecting with as many as you can with your available time before you even start writing up your work. Whether you’re shadowing, meeting, or messaging over Slack or Teams, feedback from the people using your changes is crucial to success. Not only will you get a better understanding of what to build, but you’ll also establish a list of people who can be your go-to for feedback in the future and create the change champions you need to give your changes the best possible chance for success.
2. Understand key metrics driving the success of your team members’ day-to-day
In addition to better understanding your team members' pain points, it’s essential to understand which metrics are important to their day-to-day. Not only can having this information sharpen your solution and the impact it may have, you can also gain a better understanding of how to talk about the potential changes to the same team members (which is an adoption play) as well as leadership who you may need to persuade to gain priority for the changes you are proposing.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, you should be focused on incorporating metrics into all of your work, and having an understanding of which you can impact for your team members will only help bolster your story further.
3. Let your team members know when changes happen and follow up for feedback
You and your team are getting ready to ship the amazing changes that incorporate all the benefits you have learned from investing time spent with team members who will be using the changes. A great next step is to follow up with the team members who have helped you shape the changes to let them know their feedback is valued and that they had an influence on what is coming! This will establish even more trust with those team members, which you can tap into for future feedback, establish them as a change champion, and create a relationship that you’ll be able to revisit to gain further feedback on iterating additional changes to make the product they’re using even better. People love to feel like they positively impacted their team, and this is your opportunity to share a win with them. If they give you great feedback, share it with your dev team. Everyone should be celebrating the successes you all share in. These types of actions foster solid relationships and help to build great teams.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic above. Click the follow button to leave a comment. Let’s go!
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