#PCampBoston: Sorting out PM and UX

Jeff Lash @jefflash wrote this blog post Product Management Is Not User Experience and I read it just last week. And now he is in the room facilitating a session Sorting out PM and UX, further elaborating his opinion expressed in the blog post.

Both are emerging professions filled with people from various background. Jeff started by looking at some of the most confusing job posting:

  • gather requirements by talking to users/stakeholders    - Sr. UX

  • Develop requirements, specifications, and enhancements    - PM

  • Work closely with engineering team to scope, validate, introduce new features     - Product Marketing Manager

  • personas, use cases and functional requirements, communicate to engineering team   - User Experience Product Manager

Cynical question: "What does a product manager do that a senior UX designer couldn't?"

I feel you, pal!

A T shape UX designer maybe can do a lot of these things:

  • Segmentation

  • Market sizing

  • Pricing

  • Positioning

  • Sales enablement

  • ...

But we have to understand, that's in the domain of product management; and this UX designer is wearing a different hat while doing all that.

I get frustrated when I see articles about “great tools for product managers” that refer to tools that create wireframes and help you conduct usability tests. @jefflash

I don't kown if Jeff has read this free e-book: The UX Guide Book for Product Managers. (smirk)

I had my doubt about that book too. But after reading it, I particularly enjoyed one point the author Marcin Treder made:

The Product Director thought the UI Designer should shut up and simply draw the interface based on his wireframes. The UI Designer thought that the Product Director should mainly deal with boring spreadsheets and shouldn’t stick his nose in product development.

This kind of unfortunate fight between Product Manager and UI Designer is nothing unusual . It often happens because both roles have the exact same goal – to do everything that they can to create an excellent product with an amazing user experience design.

This complicated relationship might be taken care of in three different ways:

Hiring just a Product Manager and dividing the role of UX designer between him/ her and a Graphic Designer;

Hiring just a UX Designer and giving him/ her the competencies of a Product Manager, and pair with a Business Analyst;

Clearly defining the role of both and teaching them how to cooperate.

Throughout the session, Jeff seems leaning towards the third solution. I think a simple example would explain:

When the buyer and user are not the same person, a product manager would be 80% engaged with the buyer, and a UX designer would be 80% engaged with the user. The thing is, if you ask the dog what kind of food he wants, the dog food would have been totally different from what we have today. (This joke is mean. I didn't come up with this one... ) As a UX designer myself while practicing PM, a lot of time I had to battle with the my bias towards the dog, and to pay more attention to the owner of the dog.

If you’re a person wearing multiple hats, make sure you know which hat you’re wearing and when.

Product Marketing, Product Management and User Experience

  • Product Marketing: responsible for clarifying market segments, which one will be targeted, the buyer needs within those segments, make the offering attractive

  • Product Management: responsible for overall commercial success of offering; Determine capabilities needed to address the needs defined by product marketing

  • User Experience: responsible for the experience of using the product, ease of use. translates buyer needs, user needs and required capabilities into a product design

When it gets into details, PM and UX fight over

  • defining requirements

  • prototype

PM should be writing requirements, which stay on a high level to say what the user needs are (i.e. being able to deposit a recurring amount of $ every month)

UX should come up with the design solution and write about the functional specification (i.e. clicking the calendar and pick a date for recurring payment)

Clarifying the deliverables where the PM and UX overlaps (or maybe collaborate)

Business Case vs. User Scenario - collaborate

  • PM is responsible for the overall business justification and financial case for an offering

  • UX is responsible for imagining the user scenarios, the circumstances and the context where the product is used

Competitive Analysis - collaborate

  • Input from

    • Sales

    • Marketing

    • Competitive Intelligence

    • UX  (big missed opportunity - no one asks UX for input on competitive analysis)

  • Out put as

    • competitive positioning

    • pricing strategy

    • Competitive profiles

    • Product design considerations

Personas Framework - collaborate

  • Job role    >>    buying process

  • Common Titles >>    Buyer Role Type

  • Initiatives  >> Content pref.

  • Challenges >> Tactic Preferences

  • Primary Buyer Need  >>  Decision Drivers

  • Lexicon >> Watering Holds

  • Understanding where the those personas are coming from --- Differentiating the Buyer from the Users

Prototype  - UX

  • Building the prototype

  • Concept Testing

    • ensuring that concept testing is completed

    • testing and analysis of the results are conducted objectively

Product Requirements  - PM

  • Don’t use “Shall”; use need.

    • i.e. Customer s need to be able to pay a bill; set up a recurring payment

  • if the Product Manager can stay at this level, you get much better result.

Functional Specifications - UX

  • That’s what the designer comes up with

  • PM shouldn’t be writing spec. PM should provide oversight and input as needed

  • UX should create func. spec. / create UI spec.

  • Dev lead: func. spec.; describing tech tech infrastructure needed for UI/ interaction

rioritizing feature Requests - PM

Usability Testing - UX

  • UX should be the one conducting usabilty testing

  • PM should attend as much as you can

Beta Testing - PM

  • usually conducted by PM

  • Beta testing is to ensure all the commercial goal is met and the business stakeholders are satisfies with the result.