Let us first look at the definition of value. Traditionally, it has been defined as the financial benefit that an organization receives. But for most modern product organisations, value is now mainly defined by the perception of customer when using a feature of a product. This is in line with consumer trends in recent years of shifting away from a “possession" mindset to an “lifestyle” mindset - in other words, people seek to live and share experiences rather than purely owning possessions.
These changes have proliferated across multiple industries. In transportation, instead of buying a car, people are adopting ride-sharing services. In housing, many people are starting to eschew traditional means of rent or purchase in favour of ‘co-living’ arrangement’. In software, instead of internally hosted, "on-premise" software, the “cloud” or “Software as a Service (SaAS) solutions are plentiful.
Given this shift in customer behaviours, companies should also change the way of prioritising and selecting projects and initiatives, seeking to anticipate and respond quickly to the market changes and meet new customer demands. What this is will be different for each product and team, but can be achieved with solid Agile practices in place.
In Scrum (the main Agile framework), the role responsible for maximising value is known as the Product Owner (PO). The PO is responsible for observing (and pre-empting) the customer's needs, and translating them into product characteristics, which are often described in the form of User Stories. To really hone in on what the customer needs, the User Story approach should be firmly grounded in the context of the overall user experience, which will help to prioritise and select features to be implemented. This approach to value is far different to assessing features based on technical feasibility, internal process constraints or solely focusing on revenue.
User experience can be measured through some of the following criteria:
- Lead Time: the time the user first interacts with your product, to when you are able to deliver a service to them
- Efficiency: the number of clicks, steps or pages the user needs to go through in order to get to their goal
- Complexity: the difficulty of completing a “flow” through the product
- Conversion: conversion rate, i.e. how many users reach the end of the flow;
- Satisfaction: user satisfaction rate i.e. likes, NPS, referrals, etc.
These are just a few of the metrics which I would recommend to any Product Owner to consider analysing and measuring, to predict or prescribe the effect that the new feature can bring on the user experience.
Here's an example:
As an investment banking client I want to make withdrawals of investments quickly To manage and maintain the current account balance to be always above zero Having the experience of seamlessness, speed and no hassles in completing the transaction.
When managing the Product Backlog, the Product Owner can use the effect that the user story generates on the user experience as a prioritising factor. A table (similar to the one below) can be created to measure, and determine the level of contribution of each story contributes to the overall user experience.
In this article, I gave some suggestions on how to improve the prioritisation and selection of Product Backlog items, and also identified the trends and needs for integrating Agile, analytics and User Experience which can support Product Owners in making better decisions.
If you are a Product Owner and you want to best leverage the power of UX to increase business value, you may want to:
1. Increase your precision in prioritising User Stories
2. Continuously measure and monitor user experience (i.e. setup a process for measuring real user feedback based on prioritisation decisions)
3. Incorporate automation and flow adjustments based on data;
4. Learn as quickly as possible about your users and understand changes in their behaviour;
I’d also like to invite you to experiment and share your experience, questions and tips for evaluating the user experience impact generated by your Product Backlog items. You might learn something interesting about how you currently approach prioritisation and deliver value!