You’ve got a great idea for a new app, you’ve sat on this idea for quite some time and the more you think about it the more you’re certain that you’ve got something solid to work with. You’ve run it by your inner circle and they’ve all reassured you that it’s a great idea. But now what? How do you go about turning that great idea into a product, and how do you get that product to the people that need it most? It’s time to put on your product manager hat.

Great ideas are surprisingly plentiful. The difference between a great idea and a great product is often a great product manager. The product manager orchestrates bringing the product to life, handling everything from building the right team to keeping everyone focused on the “why”, “what”, and “when” of the product. Here are some helpful tips for building your digital product.

Market Research

Before you get too far ahead of yourself, you need to put your head down and dive deep into research. A good place to start is the business model canvas, a lean startup template that helps you quickly get a minimal business plan down on paper. Think of this as your roadmap to help you stay on track when things inevitably get complicated. The business model canvas helps you structure your thinking and determine which parts of your business needs to be validated.  

Validating your product is how you will determine if there is a legitimate need for your product in the market. It might sound great to you, but if there isn’t a need being served then getting and retaining users is going to be a constant uphill battle. Next, consider your competition. While there’s no harm in competing for market share, you should really think about what your competitive advantage will be.

If your research helps you determine that this is a need for your product and that your product offers something unique to customers, then it’s time to start diving deep into who makes up your market. You should try to be a specific as you can when determining who would use your product, gathering as much information about them as possible. The more you know about them, the better chance you have of building a valuable solution and properly positioning it.

The big takeaway here is that you should spend time meeting with people both within and outside of your target industry and discuss your idea with them. Use their feedback and use it to help you determine if you’re on the right track. It’s okay if there are some people that don’t see value in or understand what you’re doing, but if that’s more often the case than not, you might want to reconsider moving forward with your current plan.

Strategy

Now that you’re thoroughly familiar with both the problem you’re solving and the people you’re solving it for, your next job as a product manager is to bring it all together. Some things that you’re going to need to consider are:

  • How are you going to fund your product?
  • What necessary skill sets missing from your team?
  • When do you plan to launch, and with which features?
  • How are you going to attract customers?
  • How are you going to monetize your product?

It’s essential that you take the time to construct a plan before you move ahead. Spending the time to create a solid strategy will help make it less stressful and easier for you and the team to adapt to unexpected changes.

Executing

After the planning and the hiring, it’s finally time to get to work on turning your idea into a product. It’s important that everyone on your team has a clear understanding of the product, their role in creating it, and a specific and reasonable timeline for their deliverables.

As the product manager, you have to balance the decisions between staying on course and pivoting. Every change or addition can potentially delay your launch date and these delays can end up being costly. However, it’s also important to consider and address valuable feedback collected along the way. It’s about making a great product that people want to use.

Launch

Today’s the big day! You and your team have put your blood, sweat, and tears into this product and now it’s finally out in the world. It’s time to crack open a bottle of bubbly and celebrate… but just one bottle, because you’ll need a clear head for what’s next.

Now that it’s out there in the hands of users, it’s time for you to find out if it really does all you set out for it to do, and for you to consider how you can make it even better. You should begin tracking how users are interacting with your product right from launch.

Iterating

Your baby is growing up so fast! New features are being added, old features are being taken away. That initial surge of users is starting to give way to a slow trickle. The more you learn from your customer base, the more you realize how much your product could evolve. Remember all of those details and features that were going to delay launch? Now you can start to think about those too. Evaluate those ideas against the user feedback you’ve received and decided if they are really as important as you thought they were.

Up until this point, your job as a product manager has been about making sure your product launches with all of the essentials, but with a product out there on the market, it’s time to think about increasing that active user count and customer satisfaction. You want to have built a product that not only stands the test of time but is improving and has a growing user base.

From here on out, it’s key that you are accurately measuring your successes and failures and changes made are based on data.

Being a product manager is both one of the most challenging and rewarding roles on a team developing a digital product. Sure, you’ll have to ask tough questions and make tough decisions, but there are few things as fulfilling as playing a crucial role in transforming something from an idea to product. All that said, if you find yourself at a loss for how to move forward with your product, we’re here to help. We’ve had plenty of practice managing products and can help move you and your team forward.

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