PeopleMatter Highlights — Sydney Ferguson
Incentive Appetizers That Add To Your Bottom Line
Author: Mattie Wright Cofield, TaxBreak Director of Marketing
Domain Driven Design & The Importance of a Ubiquitous Language
PeopleMatter Highlights — Christina Middleton
What Needs Fixin’?
Author: Kevin Meadows, PeopleMatter Product Owner
I love solving problems. Problem solving is the catalyst that propelled me into the field of software engineering, and to eventually transition into product management. As a product owner, I represent the voice of the customer. Sure, it sounds nice — but what does that actually mean?
Essentially, I have to know what problems our clients are facing and decide which issues are the most important to address. No pressure, right? I have learned, however, that the cost of solving the wrong problem is quite high.
This was illustrated during a computer science assignment in a professional development class I took. On judgment day, one classmate’s demo was beautiful to behold, it was aesthetically pleasing and had more bells and whistles than a train yard. The class anticipated the hall echoing with our professor’s praise. However, he said the following, “That’s nice, but does it do what the assignment asked?” The silence was deafening and you could hear crickets. It occurred to me that while the presentation was impressive, he had not actually completed the assignment. Instead, he decided to solve a problem he found more interesting. When the dust settled, he earned the most impressive “F” I had ever seen.
The lesson is this: If you don’t solve the right problem, you can still fail. In class, finding the “right” issue to tackle was a whole lot easier than the real world. In business, finding out what needs to be addressed takes a little more work. But how can one affectively do this?
Customers, Experts and Bureaucrats — Oh My!
Who can better identify industry needs than the people on the frontlines? As product owners, we reach out directly to our customers through discussion groups, feedback channels, surveys, emails and client calls. Each of these tools provides a different kind of feedback and allows us to reach the individuals who use our products daily.
One of the hardest challenges product owners face is determining if what a customer is describing is the real problem — or just a symptom. Frequently, a comment or suggestion leads to the discovery of a larger need. We also have to consider how many customers are impacted. If it seems to be a trend, we have to determine if we can solve a problem for a larger group. Having a flexible solution — that solves a need for a larger group — is always a bigger win.
These strategies are not exclusive to our market. In fact, they can be applied to day-to-day operations of any business, including the restaurant, convenience store or hospitality industry. It is astounding how much information one can gather from a well-constructed survey or customer feedback cards.
Perhaps there is an overwhelming number of customer complaints/issues. This may be better addressed by a business process change upstream. By discovering the sort of interaction customers respond to (Facebook, Pinterest, surveys, etc…) feedback can be pulled by enabling their ability to respond.
Even though customers are a major source of information, there are other places we look, as well. Industry blogs and news articles give tremendous insight into the hot topics of the day. From how to incorporate social media in the work place to the best practices for working with Millennials, industry leaders are vocal about the challenges they are facing. Thought leaders’ years of knowledge in the HR space help product owners keep focused on needs that are on the horizon.
Two other items we keep a close eye on are government process updates and pending legislation. For example, businesses all across the country began determining the impact of the Affordable Care Act, long before it went into effect. By keeping a diligent watch on impending government changes, we got in front of the wave of recent I-9 updates instead of being swallowed by it.
What happens now?
Once the data is gathered, identify a problem and make sure that it is shared by most of the customer base. Then move onto the best part – building the solution! There is nothing better than solving the RIGHT problem.
To be involved in any future research projects, contact Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PeopleMatter Highlights — Cole Hopkins
Authentic Relationships Are What Matter
- Find key connections. Determine who you really connect with and build on those relationships.
- Don’t let the fake ones in. I know it sounds harsh, but there isn’t room in your life for it. If they aren’t going to invest in you, don’t waste your time investing in them.
- Help each other out. That’s what we are here for in business. To compare notes, offer suggestions, listen to others, ask questions and make our industries better.
- Be real. People remember what’s real and they will remember how you treated them.
Keeping Customers After They Are Sold
I don’t like shopping for stuff — I prefer to use it once it’s been bought.
PeopleMatter Highlights — Emily O’Hanlan
Reducing Exposure for ACA’s Pay or Play Provision
Author: Anna Turner, Product Owner with PeopleMatter. Anna holds the Group Benefit Associate designation from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
- tracking progress,
- determining benefit eligibility under ACA and
- mitigating the risk of employees moving from part-time to full-time status to minimize ACA exposure.