In the last 13 years that I’m doing product management (From various different angles: Product manager, Product team lead, VP Product, CEO and Independent product consultant) I have encountered 2 main types of organizations: The "Geeky Organizations" and the "Ego Driven Organizations". The ego driven organization are usually managed by the owner itself or by some kind of puppet (The CEO) and usually they have one main stream of revenue. In these organizations the product hierarchy is very clear, the owner (or a group of partners) are taking ALL the product decisions without basing their decision on data and facts. They are usually taking their decisions based on guts feeling, it worked for them once and there is no reason that it won’t work again!! (Usually it’s not working again). With the years I learned how to identify these kinds of companies and I’m trying to stay away from them as much as possible. The chances for me as a product consultant to have success over there is close to zero. In these kinds of companies, the way that items are getting to the top of the road map for development is by who is shouting louder, if you are aggressive enough no matter how stupid your suggested features are they will get to the top of the list. I saw millions of dollars that are being thrown to the trash because of this "prioritization method".
On the other side we have the geeky organizations. The geeky organizations are usually startups or companies that grew from a garage and with the years became very big corporations. Their management is being done by an experienced CEO that is taking decisions that are in correlation with the board of directors policy. When a significant product decision is taken in this kind of organization you can be sure that it's after a deep research and brainstorming of all the senior product related figures in the company. See, product management is all about achieving business goals based on product solutions. The geeky companies understand that there is no magic, it’s a matter of identifying needs or opportunities and providing the right product solution in order to generate revenues. That being said, still, there a lot of geeky companies that are skipping one of the most important figures on their product team – A product BI analyst.
In my last post I was writing about one of the most important approaches that you have to have as a company or as a product team, the continues micro improvement approach. In short (for those who didn’t read it) in this approach the product team have to constantly identify micro changes that can be implemented in order to affect a selected KPI. In order to implement this approach properly you have to work with the relevant data on the section that you want to improve its performance and in many cases this data that you are searching for is not available in the organizational BI. The only way is to have a guy with SQL abilities that can give you the answers to all of your product questions FAST. When you are hiring a BI analyst to your team you have to make sure that he has the "detective" spirit , this guy has to be able to search for all kind of opportunities in the data , he is the one that might initiate the next big money generator feature in the company.
Another very significant role that the product BI analyst should have is validating and monitoring feature business plans. When I’m working with organization as a consultant, I’m trying to implement an approach that when someone in the organization is asking for a feature to be developed, he has to provide a small business plan for this feature. This business plan is being validated by the product BI analyst. When the product team has to take the decision, what is entering the next sprint he is taking this decision based on the ROI that is presented in the provided business plan. After the feature is in production the product BI analyst has to validated that the ROI that was promised to us on the business plan is actually achieved (This monitoring continues for 6 months). This entire process of feature business plan validation and long-term ROI monitoring is being done by the product BI analyst. I’m reminding you that more than 60% of the features that your company is developing is either not used at all or rarely used. In simple words 60% of the money that your company invest in software development is going to the trash. Implementing the right prioritization approach (The ROI prioritization method) and hiring a product BI analyst will reduce dramatically your development expenses or better will grow your income by developing money generating features.