An old adage states, “measure twice, cut once.” This also holds true in product management. There are two ways to“measure” in product management:

  • Understand the market problems and build solutions for them
  • Validate the solutions you built.

Just like double-checking your sums, validation enables you to confirm your solution, assumptions and results during the product-release process. Collecting feedback from both your market and internal team is a valuable practice, no matter when it occurs.

Types of validation

There are two types of validation:

Market validation

Market validation includes reviewing your solution with your market (customers and prospects). This type of validation is important because your market might not be able to fully understand your solution until they see or experience it first-hand. This enables you to ensure that your product resonates with your market.

Internal validation

ensures that your product has met all of the criteria required to release the product. This type of validation checks that your product has the level of quality you expect before you declare it ready for market.

When to validate your solutions

There are many opportunities to validate your solution before, during and after a product release:

Before the solution is built

Along with interviewing customers to understand market problems, you can conduct focus groups to understand your market and their assumptions. You can use focus groups to validate your product direction or positioning at any time. Sessions are discussion-based and require a moderator. Focus groups enable you to collect great ideas from your market, but are not as effective as hands-on product feedback.

During testing

Your testing team plays a key role in validating your solution. They will verify that product requirements have been met, and that test scenarios succeed. The goal of your testing team is to determine whether the product is ready for release. By assessing product-release readiness, you can ensure that your product has the level of quality you expect before taking it to market. Make sure that the established release criteria remain the determining factor for release readiness (that is, do not let emotions overrule objective criteria in a bid to release the product sooner).

Before launch

Before you launch the product, you can select customers to review the product and provide their feedback about its functionality. This process, known as a beta program, enables you to collect final feedback and endorsements for the new product. However, keep in mind that beta programs can yield possible negative consequences if you do not intend to incorporate the feedback into the product’s design.

After launch

Once the product is launched, collect feedback from both customers and prospects:

  • Win-loss analysis: During the sales process, you can choose to conduct a win/loss analysis to research why customers did or did not buy your product. This will enable you to examine the sales process and how your product works for your market.
  • Minimum viable product approach: You can choose to release small incremental pieces of functionality using the minimum viable product approach. Collect feedback from customers who use your offering to determine future product requirements.

How to validate your solution

For more information on how to validate your solution, refer to the following articles:

References

Duris, S. (2010). Win/Loss Analysis Checklist for Product Managers. Pragmatic Marketing. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/magazine/2/2/0403sd
Harris, B. (2010). Tips& Tools: How to Run Customer Focus Groups Successfully. Pragmatic Marketing. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/magazine/2/5/0410bh
Khan, S. (2010). Building a Better Beta. Pragmatic Marketing. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/magazine/4/3/0605sk
Mabe, C. and Newell, C.M. (2010).Assuring‘Voice of the Customer’ in Development and Design. Pragmatic Marketing. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/topics/07/assuring-2018voice-of-the-customer2019-in-development-and-design