ProductThe Role of a Product Maker at Factorial
“Product Maker” is how we call the role in Factorial tasked with the building of the product. However, it’s not the only one. All other teams in one way or another, also create the product. “Sales” enlightens us on the market needs, “Customer Experience” notifies us about clients’ challenges, “Marketing” expands our brand and communicates what we offer, and of course, “Development” throws in their magic to make everything work.
You might wonder, what does “product” really mean? and why do we need someone in charge of it? Well, let’s start from the very beginning.
What is a “product”?
Every company always offers a product; it might be the bread a bakery from Huesca sells, a mobile app to navigate the city, or a service to fix bikes. Regardless of the service being offered, it’s the solution you offer to solve the pain of a client.
It’s important to highlight that pains are borne by clients (persons), and talking to them is the best way to know the real problem, hence, the best solution to the problem.
Who creates a “product”?
At the inception of a company, founders take the most important steps. These involve: detecting a pain, creating a product to alleviate it, and achieving a good market fit. Founders usually start out in charge of creating the product, selling the product, speaking to potential clients, and giving support to the needs and requirements of existing clients.
However, as the company expands, founders become focused on the needs that emerge due to that growth. These can include but are not limited to managing the organization, hiring new members, talking to investors, and taking care of the company culture. At this point, who takes up the responsibility of building the product, and what are their duties?
The Role of a Product Maker
There are different ways to organize a product team within a company. The most common structure is to divide the responsibilities between the product managers and the product designers. Generally speaking, product managers are mainly in charge of detecting the problems and opportunities to planning the steps to solve them talking to all the stakeholders, while product designers are usually focused on the solution phase.
From the beginning of Factorial, we decided not to separate these responsibilities and combine them into one single role. Why?
- Being close to the “pain” from the beginning and prioritizing the problems helps us to think about the best solution because we have seen the pain directly and we have all the context.
- We see the impact of our solutions on clients, internal teams, and the business directly. This is more exciting than designing something while being disjointed from the result.
- It helps us to work horizontally, in the sense that we reduce the number of interlocutors. This gives more agility to the moving forward of different initiatives. If we recognize an opportunity, we have all the tools to move it forward.
So yes, we have a role in charge of detecting problems and opportunities, prioritizing them, working on their solutions, and measuring their success - The Product Maker. These product responsibilities are ours and shared at the same time. The entire company works on the product either directly or indirectly. Our main responsibility is to establish the direction based on all the inputs we get and thereby enable the different teams to achieve their goals.
Moving forward initiatives that we believe will have the quickest impact, asking the right questions to understand problems and detect pains, and being empathic, are the pillars of a product maker. Let’s talk about our responsibilities in detail.
The product process at Factorial
In Factorial we divide the process of building a product into three big phases: discovery, planning, and solution. In the three phases, the Product makers have the major responsibilities.
The first step in building solutions is deeply understanding the need. This phase helps us know what the problems are even before thinking about a possible solution or moving a single pixel. To achieve this, we are in constant communication with the different teams that are in contact with the clients and as a result, might have insights into how to solve the pain.
- Sales: The sales team is in charge of showing our solution to potential clients in the different markets. They return with feedback on why clients have not bought the product, and this helps us identify the market needs in each country.
- Customer experience: After a client purchases a Factorial plan, the customer experience team helps them set up the product and adapt it to their specific needs. They are in constant contact with the client, and they do a great job communicating the new needs of the client.
- Country managers: In each market, we have a country manager with a product perspective who is in charge of discovering the specific product adaptations required in that country. They are the bridge between all the teams as it pertains to feedback collation.
The moment we gain a clear image of the problem, we proceed to talk directly to the clients, asking the right questions and reviewing the metrics for deeper understanding. In the end, these cumulatively help us have a good knowledge of the pains and only then are we equipped enough to think about possible solutions.
To prioritize the problems to tackle, we take into account the impact on our current or possible clients’ needs as well as the business impact. Once we have the objectives, we outline the steps necessary to achieve these objectives. We call these specific actions ‘epics’.
In this phase, we prioritize epics by taking into account the impact, the effort required, and the confidence of delivery. This is a mathematical way of prioritization inspired by RICE from Intercom; however, there are times when our experience/instincts help us prioritize some things before others, bearing in mind the fact that we could be wrong. Always following the needs of the market is a good way to do this, and it is these epics and their prioritization that create our team roadmap.
An epic is basically specifying all the steps to alleviate a “pain”. It can include designing new features, recording a webinar, or just rewriting a help center article. After the product and technical specs are defined, we go ahead to ensure the quality and plan the delivery time of the project, reviewing the status every step of the way. However, during the development, unexpected problems may arise and these might require alternative solutions.
After the development comes another important part—the launch. How we announce and implement the solution plays a big part in the impact it would have. It is our duty to enable other teams and our clients to understand the solution.
The last part of this phase is measuring the success of the solution. Of course, we can validate the solution before building it, but the real validation comes when the metrics “talk”. We engage two scales of measurement, the qualitative and quantitative. On the qualitative part, we check with clients using the product, to ensure that the solution accurately addressed the problem, and on the quantitative part, we compare the metrics for each solution with the standard set from the beginning, for example, the usage metrics within a date range can be checked to determine how often the solution is being engaged.
This is an overview of the responsibilities of the product team at Factorial. At Factorial, each product team consists of product makers and developers. We work very closely, brainstorming on product problems and tech problems together, and as a result, we blur the line that could have existed between designers and developers, because together, we are product teams focused on a specific domain.