From Silly One-Liners to Product-Market Fit

How ClearVision develops MVPs from fuzzy product ideas in ProdPad

ClearVision is an innovative software services company with offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia that helps clients implement Atlassian tools across their organizations.

As an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, the company supports hundreds of leading organizations manage IT transformations and apply agile methodology across teams. They also support and host Atlassian tools including JIRA, Confluence, BitBucket and HipChat.

Since 2005, ClearVision has also been leveraging its customer relationships to build up a new side of its business: new product development.

This “accelerator” division tasked with developing new products is the product arm is headed up by Technical Product Manager, Mark Roke.

It’s a creative role that Mark loves.

“We take these silly one-liners – little ideas for products – and rapidly test, iterate and take them to market. It’s really very exciting,” he says.

But to get an idea off the ground, Mark needs more than creativity. He has to build a compelling business case for his product idea internally. This is mission critical. If he fails to convince, he doesn’t get the chance to bring that product to life.

“You only have one chance to launch something new. If you can’t get the idea off the ground internally, the idea is dead. If you put something out there without the evidence, it gets dismissed immediately.”

Mark has learned from experience that to get a new product off the ground, you don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to know what the end solution will be either.

What counts is that you have a deep understanding of the problem – and that you’re ready and able to respond with each new piece of information you learn.

Here’s how he’s using ProdPad to work his way from product ideas to launch.

Step 1: Develop new ideas during research and validation

Mark collects ideas that emerge from conversations with end users, prospects, partners and the team in ProdPad.

But for him, the real value in capturing product ideas is that they spawn new and better ones.

As Mark researches and validates ideas with customers in the space, new feedback and ideas emerge that help his original concept evolve: “What I need is to take that one little idea and let it grow, collate, start forming a solution and get to an MVP.”

“When you’re in this role, you get little bits and pieces of information and you have to figure out where it all fits in together,” he adds.

Through this constant validation work, Mark often identifies new initiatives that are beyond the scope of an MVP. He puts them on the product roadmap as future initiatives. This allows him to keep distant ideas on the radar without distracting from immediate priorities.

“I need to have that real narrow focus to concentrate on what’s important right now. That’s what I see with ProdPad.”  

Step 2: Present the product roadmap to the team

Mark credits the lean product roadmap he’s built with ProdPad to communicate his ideas.

“I pitched and presented a product roadmap recently to our CEO. It didn’t take any explanation. It just made perfect sense. They just get it.”

His product strategy sits on three time horizons where the key details are easy to see: business objectives, themes, and scope are all communicated at the high level.

With this open-ended document at the center of his meetings, he’s having more constructive meetings. Mark frames the discussion around problems that need to be solved, which has allowed him to steer away from list of features.

Mark admits that in the past, curveball questions during presentation time have tripped him up in the past. Now it’s easier for him to absorb criticism and negotiate with his executive team and colleagues.

“I’ve gotten it wrong. I’ve moved too fast. Sometimes you put something out too quickly that hasn’t been well thought out or theorized – and people can interpret that in the wrong way.”

But Mark, who has been using ProdPad to develop support and evidence for the ideas and initiatives, has newfound confidence when he makes the case for a new product.

“I can present a mile-high view, knowing full well I have all the detail underneath. In fact, the process of collecting that detail is what has helped me imagine that high-level view.”

For a product manager whose role is to build and defend the business case for bringing new products to market, this is invaluable.

“We only worry about three things: current, near-term and future. What am I doing right now? What immediately follows that? Those are the most important pieces for me.

We recently launched a product that 4 months ago did not exist,” says Mark. How did that happen? By focusing on the very next step.”

Step 3: Ready, aim, fire

ProdPad helps Mark fill in all the important blanks: identifying problems, priorities and building a roadmap to communicate a product strategy going forward.

“JIRA as a tracking management tool couldn’t be better but ProdPad helps me manage the bird’s eye view of what could be,” he says.

But there’s one other benefit for Mark after he’s won stakeholder approval and has the green light to move forward: he can transfer each detailed product spec to JIRA with the push of a button.

With ProdPad’s JIRA integration, he can push business case, personas, user stories, functional specs – all of which he’s already developed in ProdPad.

From the most ridiculous of ideas (his words!) to the product roadmap, ProdPad helps him work towards his ultimate vision.

“When you’ve invested so much time and effort in something, you want it to be the best it can be,” says Mark. “So when you do hit go, you’ve got everything in front of you.”

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Mark, Technical Product Manager @ ClearVision

“I pitched and presented a product roadmap recently to our CEO. It didn’t take any explanation. It just made perfect sense. They just get it.”