4 C framework in product management
The 4Cs that has helped me to justify to stakeholders, peers and the team on why we need to build a particular feature.
As product managers a significant amount of work boils down to figuring out what to build next and justifying to stakeholders, peers and the team on why we need to build this. The narrative and WHY is as important, if not more, as the WHAT.
So, Where does one start when trying to find an answer to the WHY? This 4C framework can come handy.
You don't want to build something that no one wants. There has to be a need in the market for whatever you have in the backlog that you want to build. How do you find out if there is a customer need for what you are building.
There are ways to identify if that feature is something customers needs, but before that we need to understand which customers need this. There are fundamentally three categories of customers
1. Current customers of the product
2. Competitor's customer
3. Future customers/ prospects (they could be competitor's customers or maybe not)
To validate if this is a problem for the current customers, you can
1. Look at customer data. Since this is to justify a new feature that you want to build, look for proxy data and identify the size of the cohort that might benefit from this feature.
2. Look at support tickets (talk to the support team and/or customer success team - they can be a great resource for understanding customer pain points)
3. Talk to customers. The proxy data might tell you what cohort might benefit fromt his feature but to truly validate that or to understand what other tools they are using in their journey to achieve that work, can help you understand the customer behaviour, so that when you build your feature, it can emulate the existing behaviour within your product to keep the learnig curve flat.
To understand what **competitors' customers** are saying, you can look at the competitor's forums or social media to understand if there has been any ask for it. The forums can also tell you the level of interest as well, from the comments and votes for that feature. IF the roadmap is public, you can check that as well.
To check the pulse of the **future customers (prospects),** pre-sales & sales team members can capture prospective client's asks and requirements. You can glean information from those artefacts.
Look at the competitive landscape and see what the gaps are. Not just the gaps but if you can come up with innovative ideas to solve the problem, that feature can become a differentiator for your product. To understand what competition has done or not done, you can use the following ways:
1. Youtube videos - It is hard to get access to some of B2B products out there but you can always go to Youtube and see demos of the product. Make sure that it is not very old.
2. Product help documentation - They are great resource to understand what the competition has done and what are the problems they have tried to solve.
3. Product webinars - These are also great resources to see product demos and use cases that they are solving for.
4. Community - It is easy to get access to competitor product communities. Communities are great way to understand what the customer qualms are, about a feature that is in the competitors product. OR to gauge interest for a feature (that you might contemplating to build) in their forums.
You can either build to close the gap or you can build to differentiate.
3. Company/product vision or objectives
As a PM it is important that whatever you are building adds value to business as much as it does to the customer. So, it is important that whatever you are building strategically aligns with the larger vision of your organization or your product. The vision could be 'to unleash the potential of every team', so when you are building a feature, you can talk about how that helps unleash team's potential through collaboration, for example. Or a company wide objective can be to get more enterprise customers to purchase this product, this year. In that case you can leverage that and talk about how this feature drives the company towards that objective.
4. Consultant / Analyst
Obviously, 'Consultant' is a force fit word because it starts with C, but 4C makes it easier to remember:). What I mean by Consultant/Analyst is the likes of Gartner and Forrester. They have immense knowledge about the industry landscape, they can help you see ahead of the curve. They can give guidance on where the industry is heading 5, 10 years from now. That will help you build and validate your hypothesis and take big bets in the right direction.
Remember, you should use these in combination. For example, there could be a strong pull from customers to go in a certain direction with your product but it might not be the right time for the company (based on your company objectives) to invest in that now.