10 Questions a Product Design Manager Should Ask

In this post I’d like to share with you a list of the ten most important questions any product design manager should ask and answer before and during a product design process.

1) Why develop a new product?
You don’t develop new products just because “a new product is needed.” You have to carefully check and define the reason(s) for your new product. After all, responding to a competitor’s move, a brand pivot, or responding to user complaints are reflected very differently in your product brief and design.

2) Who is the project leader?
It’s crucial to nominate a product design project manager—someone to be in charge of everything, from product briefing to production. You really don’t want an R&D manager who passes the stick to a manufacturing manager that passes it to a marketing manager. It’s a multidisciplinary process, but there should be one manager.

3) Who is on the team?
You have to know who are you working with. Normally, a new product development team should include four to six people from management, R&D, marketing, manufacturing and logistics.

4) What are the boundaries?
Every project and product should have preliminary main boundaries which define the playground zone. These boundaries should be wisely defined—they have to be big enough for innovation opportunity, but not so big that you lose focus.

5) What are the product’s main KPIs?
Defining KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is crucial. You have to define the product’s quality and performance expectations in advance. It will save you a lot of work, time, and confusion.

6) What are we missing?
You never know about it all in advance. A product design is a process of asking questions and answering them concurrently. Asking the right question is halfway to a solution. The product brief should also include questions that you’ll have to answer down the road.

7) What would be the product’s slogan?
I don’t mean a professional copyright slogan, but one sentence that accurately defines the essence of your product—the main value of the product. You won’t believe how helpful a slogan can be to focus a design work.

8) Do we have the knowledge?
It is most important to understand in advance whether you have the knowledge and the technology needed to develop your product. When the answer is no, you have to define what is needed to achieve the missing knowledge.

9) How does the product fit into the product line?
Most companies have more than one product. You have to define the new product’s location and its relationship with your other products. You can handle this by using a Product Matrix method.

10) Do we really need a new product?
Developing a new product takes a lot of resources. Sometimes you can achieve the same (or nearly the same) results for a much lower cost. Upgrading an existing product or even changing the marketing strategy sometimes can do the trick.

On my next post I’ll discuss the similarities and differences between a physical product and a virtual product (software) development. Be notified about this upcoming post.