Meet Vaishnavi Chukka, Advanced Product Manager at NavVis, and learn about her and her team's approach to managing high-tech product development.
1. Can you tell us about your experience managing high-tech products?
It's always challenging and exciting to manage roadmaps, backlogs, and releases as a continuous process. Having a clear focus on why and for whom you are developing products is centric. I have always worked with products and services where customer feedback is instant. The most important aspect of my work is to understand how users perceive our offerings and how we can create better value for them to improve accordingly.
2. How do you prioritize and manage competing demands for resources within your product development team?
Identifying and prioritizing the goals yearly and quarterly is crucial to managing our workload. We have proactive planning sessions every quarter to align productively on deliverables. Collaboration and open communication enable us to track progress, iterate, and improve continuously. Finally, quarterly reviews on what we achieved help us work smarter going forward.
3. Can you explain your process for developing and launching a new product?
Developing and launching a new product or improvements to a product needs planning, evaluation, and execution in the following ways:
- Ideation and Discovery - identifying pains, gains, and customer expectations helps to ideate and add new improvements to offerings
- Research - conducting market research to identify potential customers, markets, competitors, and trends. It is strategic to remain relevant in the market
- Concept Development - drafting concepts on how we can solve a particular customer’s problem or address a particular request
- Design and Prototype - in order to prove our concept and test product hypothesis, designing potential solutions and prototyping helps to get early customer feedback
- Validation - validations and testing with selected Beta customers help to gather valuable insights into user experience
- Development and Launch - after the scope is refined, the product/feature is developed and commercially available for customers
- Evaluation - monitoring the usage after launch and getting customer feedback helps to iterate in the next versions
4. How do you stay up to date on emerging technologies and incorporate them into your product strategy?
Staying informed about the market and industry is very important to have a competitive edge. We do this through market surveys and in-depth research. Building a strong network of early adopters also helps to monitor new developments and design thinking are ways to incorporate emerging technologies into product strategy. Most importantly, having a culture that is receptive to innovation is important for the long-term vision.
5. Can you give an example of a particularly challenging problem you had to solve as a product manager and how you approached it?
Pricing a feature within a product is quite challenging for product managers in terms of customer acceptance while also staying aligned with the business model. In such situations, I usually rely on initial market research on a competitive landscape to develop a realistic pricing strategy, after which willingness to pay for the feature is evaluated by selected customers. After closely evaluating the feedback, adjustments are based on value demand for the feature. By taking a data-driven approach and iterating, a clear direction for solving the challenge emerges.
6. How do you measure the success of a product and make data-driven decisions for its future development?
To measure the success of a product, defining associated metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as user engagement, retention, satisfaction, revenue, etc., is crucial. These parameters are tracked and monitored over time to analyze product usage and customer satisfaction and to make improvements accordingly. We review these KPIs regularly to make informed decisions and adjust product strategies accordingly to ensure continued success.
7. How do you balance the needs of customers, stakeholders, and the company when making product decisions?
Customers’ needs and wants are primary inputs in making any product decision. However, it is pertinent to strike a balance by having a long-term perspective and considering the potential impact on all stakeholders over time. Communication and collaboration with stakeholders for trade-offs are key to ensuring that decisions are aligned with the overall goals of the product and company without failing to create the best value for the customer.
8. How do you manage and communicate product updates and changes to internal teams and external partners?
There are several steps to ensure communication of such releases is managed both internally and externally. It starts with having a clear communication plan that outlines the scope of the release, who is affected (meaning targeted customers), and when and how we are planning to release. Afterward, stakeholders sync and identify changes to existing product documentation, marketing collateral, and release notes. After the launch, we ensure that customers are aware of the changes through email and social media communication and continue monitoring and supporting the release.
9. Can you discuss a time when you had to make a difficult decision regarding a product and explain your reasoning behind it?
While working with third-party integrations for a software product some time ago, we were having a big discussion on whether to implement this new feature in-house or to collaborate with other providers to integrate their offerings into our platform. The decision was difficult because our in-house developers already invested time in prototyping and were confident, they could develop it in-house, although there were a few glitches needing more time to resolve.
On the other hand, customers needed the feature urgently and there were already other providers in the market with whom we could immediately integrate. After evaluating all possibilities and consulting with stakeholders, we made a tough but pragmatic decision to go with external help in order to serve our customers faster and better.
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