Do Product Managers and Product Teams Spend Enough Time with Their Customers?

Written by Published in Product Management

This article was originally published on https://www.pypr.works

The  PMF Product Management Trends and Benchmark Report 2019 (TnB2019) report unveiled that on average across all 1000+ respondents we spend 7,2% of our time interacting with customers (when analyzing the 4 – 8 weeks period prior to the survey). Assuming a 40-hour week (that is likely not the case for most product people), that would translate into roughly 11 to 23 hours of customer interaction while in the same period we spend (read: waste) 20 to 40 hours in meetings without any product focus. Our analysis showed that there is no significant difference between small and large organizations.

Product Management Festival unveils “shocking” numbers in the Product Management Trends and Benchmark Report 2019

You might argue that 11 to 23 hours are quite a lot out of your busy days or that interacting with customers directly can be compensated by product data you collect and analyze … While I admit that every product and organization has different needs, I have a strong opinion that most product managers and product teams should spend more time with their customers. An underpinning of my opinion comes with more data. For example, User research (80%), Lean Startup / MVP (76%), and Design Sprints (60%) are frameworks and methods that are well adopted in the PM community. There is no doubt that customer interaction is the backbone of all of these. Hence, it comes as little surprise that less than a third of all PMs report back that these frameworks and methods are working well.

That is obviously not a solid proof, but intended as food for thought.

Do you spend enough time with your current and future customers?

If you are taking a holistic approach to product management and therefore need to balance all important dimensions and factors for product success, chances are high that you and your product team’s days are busy. Therefore, it is essential to understand what’s most important for your product at any given time providing the best impact. Over the last 20 years in product management I came up with a framework and methodology, first for myself and then for my product teams, that I named PYPR. Over the last 18 months, I described all aspects of PYPR in this book:

PYPR provides a holistic view to Software Product Management, highlighting the importance of orchestration of all PYPR dimensions and their dimension items. PYPR provides a framework to balance all planning, coordination and execution activities for highest customer value and long-term product success while aligning all product stakeholders inside and outside the organization.

Why is this important?

PYPR will help you with freeing up time for more important activities (like interacting with customers). Because PYPR is a detection system that unveils where focus is required, and time investments are mandated (and where the impact of further time investments would be very limited at best).

PYPR is a detection system that unveils where focus is required, and time investments are mandated

Customer interaction and thereof derived insights are valuable in many areas of holistic product management. The list is endless. However, if you need a few examples, just think about solidifying your product’s business model, identifying your target market segments, understanding personas, preparing impactful go-to-market assets, defining better value propositions, investigating and clarifying under-served needs, writing user stories, etc. As said, the list is endless and in each product management dimension one can benefit from interacting with the actual or planned customers of your product.

And in case you still need one more argument … we further analyzed that higher levels of customer interaction correlate with higher ratings of product team health (e.g. team health ratings of 9 and 10 (highest rating) came in with >10% of time spent with customer interactions).

There is no excuse not to interact more with your customers and build awesome products (and product teams).

Thanks for reading,
Timo

You can access my webinar recording on “Product Management Processes Determining Product Success” at:http://bit.ly/PMBenchmarks_Webinar_Timo

* The report compiles answers from more than 1000 product managers across the globe and everyone can download the report for free following the link below. Just do us one favor – please participate in the upcoming survey later the year 😉
https://productmanagementfestival.com/survey/

About the Author
Timo Wagenblatt

Timo is VP of Product Management at SAP in Walldorf, Germany. As Head of Product, he shapes and drives the incubation of cloud-native products that service underserved customer needs all the way to valuable product adoption for both customers and SAP.
Timo is dedicated to Software Product Management for more than 20 years working with clients and product teams across the globe building world-class enterprise solutions. His passion can be best described as continuously improving product management maturity while focusing on customer and employee success by evangelizing and showcasing product-mindset.
 
Timo holds a Diploma in Business Administration with specialization in operations research, commercial information systems and industrial management. He is a conference board member of one of the largest product management conferences in Europe (https://productmanagementfestival.com/zurich/).
 
In 2018, Timo started PYPR Software Product Management, his own start-up, dedicated to helping product managers and founders adopting PYPR. He focuses on balancing and consistently improving all aspects of Software Product Management toward an aligned product mindset in the product team, department and the overall organization.

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