How ProductMaven Turns Product Chaos Into Process
When Ryan Troll and his associates at ProductMaven kick off their accelerator program with a new client, their goal is to leave that client three to six months later with a fully operational product team.
ProductMaven is a product consultancy that swoops in to rescue struggling companies – both startups and Fortune 500 – and works with them to develop a healthy product culture. Their team of product leaders train business leaders to adopt a product mindset, develop an initial product strategy and even help them recruit their first product hire.
“We go to legacy-based companies feeling the pinch from startups like us and make them more competitive,” he explains. “We’ll come in and help bigger clients reinvent a product they already have, but we also take startups through the rigors of bringing their first product to market.”
No matter what the size or complexity of their client, ProductMaven brings in ProdPad to help them gradually introduce the product management process into each business they work with.
Here’s why ProductMaven counts on ProdPad to turn product chaos into organization.
Establish a relationship between the “frontline” and the C-suite
“Stakeholder management is messy – we walk into a lot of tense situations,” says Ryan. “Sometimes the CEO has an iron grip on the product and everyone else is frustrated that their ideas are falling on deaf ears.”
Ryan and his team use ProdPad to introduce a line of communication between the C-suite and teams working on the front lines with customers, like customer support, sales and account management.
“These executives are used to seeing problems from one perspective. So we start by just making product ideas more visible to everyone,” he explains. “With ProdPad, you can physically put ideas in front of everybody and have transparent discussions. That gives people an excuse to reach beyond their usual circles and talk to different stakeholders. It’s a small but important shift.”
Ryan says introducing internal transparency is the best way to adopt product into an organization. Communication and transparency is a new concept for many of the companies that he has worked with, but they welcome the change because they quickly recognize that both ideas and decisions are moving through the pipeline more quickly.
“It usually all comes down to solving a communication problem. That’s really how we get change moving in an organization,” he adds.
Building a product culture for the first time
Ryan also brings in ProdPad to help clients are having trouble finding their way forward.
“We were recently working with one client that was just spinning their wheels for a year and a half, wasting money. They hadn’t launched anything!” he says.
For that client, Ryan designed an accelerator program that would focus on entirely on the minimum requirements to get their product to market. He brought in ProdPad to get the team used to sharing ideas with each other in the product backlog. Until then, they had been working from separate and sometimes conflicting backlogs – a big blocker for them.
As they became comfortable with that level of visibility, Ryan helped them start to think about how to bring in customer feedback to help them weigh their priorities.
Customer feedback can be linked to ideas in ProdPad – and that made it possible for everyone to visualize which ideas in the product backlog were the most important to customers.
Finally, Ryan led a product planning session with the company to organize these ideas for their roadmap.
“When we shared the roadmap with the company, it was like night and day. People were talking, getting excited about sharing ideas. We’d really built a conversation across the product team,” he says.
“ProdPad was our backbone through that time. It gave us rails to really think through the steps of planning a roadmap, manage expectations and teach our clients how to work.”
Ryan acknowledges that though every company and every team has its own unique set of challenges, the basics stay the same. As ProductMaven grows and takes on more clients, ProdPad remains a key part of their success.