Ways to define success and measure value for your product features

A Boston Women in Product Event Recap

– By Garmia Painuly – No matter what the product, our goal as product managers is to deliver value to customers. How do we quantify and measure the value, and incorporate the findings into our product plans and roadmaps? Nearly 60 product professionals attended Boston Women in Product’s event on May 18th to hear speakers present real world examples and varied perspectives on the topic. Erin McHugh Saif showed us how she used analytics and customer insights to help her tackle a large-scale business problem at TIBCO Spotfire and Sooyoung Kim shared how Rue La La is using Riskiest Assumption Testing to rapidly test ideas with zero engineering effort.

Erin McHugh Saif, Senior Product Manager at TIBCO Spotfire, joined the company in 2012 when the cloud offering was new. It was unclear if the offering was profitable or successful. Erin shared how she used customer focus and analytics every step of the way to optimize the cloud product offering and marketing strategy. Here are some unique ways that TIBCO Spotfire keeps the customer front-and-center:

  • Elevating the voice of the customer through a public idea bank: Customers submit ideas and issues to Spotfire’s public idea portal, and the top ideas are implemented each release. Customers can see which ideas are the most requested, and have confidence that they will be implemented. This was a bold step, and significantly impacted customer engagement.
  • Drawing the product roadmap as a customer journey curve: This format clearly communicates how features in the roadmap impact the customer, and at what stage of their experience with the product. Epics are prioritized according to customer feedback and usability testing.

Saurin Shah (VP of Product at Rue La La) and Soonyoung Kim (Product Manager at Rue La La) shared how they use Riskiest Assumption Testing (RAT) instead of the traditional Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach to rapidly test product ideas and glean customer insights from them. The MVP is often used to describe the first release of a product, with enough core features to make it work. The problem with the MVP is that many companies invest significant resources before releasing the product to real customers, which delays getting customer feedback on your idea. The RAT is not a product. It is a rapid and small test of the riskiest assumption associated with your product idea. It doesn’t require perfect code or design. The goal is to quickly put your idea out in the marketplace, analyze the customer response, and find out if what you think is a good idea is actually a good idea. Soonyoung shared some fascinating and concrete examples of how Rue La La has successfully used RAT to test ideas and used insights from the customer response to inform larger product decisions. The examples included an app-less shopping experience for mobile customers, and introducing more of a human-touch to the online shopping experience. Here were a few tips from the Rue product team on using RAT:

  • Identify and test your core and riskiest assumption first. What has to be true for the opportunity to exist?
  • Come up with the smallest possible test. Use minimal engineering effort, or even manual and non-scalable methods for the test.
  • Test only one assumption at a time. Silence everything else and keep noise at a minimum.
  • Test your idea with the best customer segment first. This is the customer group you expect will be most responsive to the idea. If you can’t convince them, then the idea may not be worth pursuing.

The event was a great success. Our speakers sparked a lively discussion on testing and customer focus during the networking session following the speeches. Many thanks to our speakers for not only their informational and edifying presentations, but also sharing real-world examples from their professional lives.

A special thanks to Rue La La for hosting the event, and to our sponsors for helping make the event possible:


Garima PainulyGarima Painuly is a B2B SaaS Product Manager at PowerAdvocate in downtown Boston. She wears many hats at PowerAdvocate, including serving as a product owner for a software development scrum team, a subject matter expert on the energy industry, helping the sales team as a product expert, and helping drive customer adoption. She is also involved with user experience design and product marketing. Originally from India and Denmark, she moved to Boston to start a career in engineering. Prior to product management, she worked as an engineer and then an analyst. Garima has an M.S. in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University. Her sweet spot is product, design, and data analytics. In her free time, she enjoys travel, food, and being involved with the Boston product community.   

BWP_logoBoston Women in Product (BWP) is a community that empowers women to be influencers in their role inspiring them to make a difference and grow in their career. Our mission is to inspire, equip and help advance women in product by encouraging career leadership, development, support, mentoring, and building relationships with like-minded women. The BWP comes together throughout the year in local Boston area events. We gather women together to learn and affect one another in an open, casual setting. We aim to bring expertise from the product community and connect that with women striving to grow in their product career. Open to anyone interested in helping advance women in their product careers. We hope to see you at our next event.

To find out more visit https://www.meetup.com/Boston-Women-in-Product/

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