Exercises for Product Managers – Research

The research is the first phase in the lifecycle of a new feature or product.

After the research it is time for definition, implementation, launch and evaluation.

The goals of the research phase are:

  1. Discover the customer/user problems
  2. Understanding users needs, behaviors and current ways of working

Next, I will list five research exercises that will help to plan a better feature or product:

Exercise 1. Customer development plan

Find answers to the questions on the following table:


What are customer segments? An example will illustrate well what customer segments are. On an app like Facebook, users could be segmented into groups like consumers, group administrators, page administrators, advertisers and app developers. It can be divided into more granularity, such as female user and male users, users over 18 and over 30, etc.

Exercise 2. Interview script

Write an interview script for each of the customer segments identified in exercise 1 using the following example and guidance: Running Lean, interview script guide

interview script.jpg
Image from the book: Running Lean 

Exercise 3. Interview

Interview 7 to 10 customers/users using the script in exercise 2 with at least 3 users per segment. Customers/users can’t be anyone you know, and they must fit into a customer segment. Record these interactions however you can: video, audio or notes (in that order).

Exercise 4. Convert the interviews into useful documentation

Map out the current user flow to solve the problem; use a flow diagram with images of the app screens if needed.

sample user flow diagram.png
User flow diagram example
Flow Diagram with images

Write the findings and recommendations on a matrix. Add another two columns to the severity and effort estimations.

user research findings matrix.png


Extra exercise. Competitor’s analysis matrix

List the features your customers perceive as the most important on the left column.
Outline the competitors and your product in the top row.
Identify the key points of differentiations and gaps in the market.
Compare your businesses against these key points.

Screenshot 2016-07-25 22.05.04.png
Example Dropbox competitors matrix back in 2007

Tools used

Lucidchart.com and draw.io are tools that can be used to draw the flow diagrams.

What next

After the research is done, the next phase includes presenting the findings to the business and development team in order to come up with a plan. That will be part of the following phase: Definition.

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