Managing Products In The Mobile App World

“Managing Products in the Mobile App World” with Etay Gafni, Owner, Bright Act LLC

by Tej Ravindra

October 2011 Event

Etay Gafni, an experienced mobile app consultant and owner of Bright Act LLC, addressed the whys and hows of Mobile Product planning and product management for mobile devices.

In addition to the best practices of product management, If you are planning product for a mobile device, take into account the speed of change in mobile technology, the large number of variations of the hardware: Screen sizes, inputs, CPU, memory and the different OS.

While most companies consider going into the mobile space as a no brainer, it is important to stop and ask 2 important questions:

  1. Why are we going mobile? The answer to this will be different depending on the domain you are in and some areas lend themselves better to mobile than others. For example: A complex ERP software with hundreds of workflows may not be the best fit to start your move to mobile.
  2. How are we going to go mobile?

When you have decided to go ahead with your mobile product, make sure you are extremely clear on:

  1. Who is going to buy the product?
  2. How are you going to configure the product?
  3. What does your customer use now?
  4. Customer personas and user stories

To further your idea, you will need to create buy in within your organization. Know your internal audience and your promoters & detractors. To do your homework, find out :

  1. Who initiated the product? ( marketing, dev , sales)
  2. Who is supporting the product
  3. What are the internal alternatives?
  4. What are the internal metric to define success .Find out what it is.
  5. Network  within your organization to find out if there are similar efforts already

Take a lesson from the hardware industry….Product managers in mobile should take the role of integrators who should create an experience.

Once you have the buy in for your product, make sure you prototype and get feedback early. In other words, Fail small, fail often, fail cheap. The cost of changing requirements earlier in the product development cycle is significantly cheaper and you greatly increase your product’s chances of success.  Sharing your prototype with your target audience will help you prioritize and validate your planned feature set.  This will enable you to iterate rapidly and improve your product’s chances of being very successful.

Tej Ravindra is a Sr.Product Manager at eBay. In her previous roles, she has led product management for SAAS and B2B software. Her interest areas include technology & business strategy, mobile applications & data analysis to drive better business decisions.