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Posted 27 Nov 2013

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Product Canvas Agile Tool

27 Nov 2013CPOL5 min read
Product Canvas Agile Tool

This article is in the Product Showcase section for our sponsors at CodeProject. These articles are intended to provide you with information on products and services that we consider useful and of value to developers.

Product Canvas Definition

The Product Canvas is a powerful and interactive Agile tool that helps stakeholders to define or improve a product: find the right Ux (User Experience) and the right features using a collaborative workshop with stakeholders (Business, Product Owner, Developers). The entire team’s creativity and knowledge are leveraged.

Our Context

One of our product team was complaining about the product management into our Back-Office. It was too tedious and very time-consuming. They had a growing feeling that they were wasting time doing the same task over and over again… and we did understand their point. That is why we went to meet them and we endeavor to provide them with real solutions that are technically feasible.

Who Should Attend This Meeting?

Everyone tasked with creating the product should attend the canvas creation workshop. In our case, our meeting was hosted in London because most of our stakeholders were in the UK.

You can also invite QA for this kind of meeting.

What is the goal: Product Canvas mainly creates shared ownership. The purpose of this meeting is to find solutions, workarounds, compromises and decisions with stakeholders, so that the entire team’s creativity and knowledge are leveraged. This allows the product owner and the team to be creative before other stakeholders provide inputs.

There is no need to invite too many stakeholders, but only those who are directly impacted.

How to Lead This Meeting?

Before starting the workshop, we tried to answer the following questions:

  1. Who are the product’s users?
  2. What are the problems with the products? What are the benefits for users? What proposal is the best solution in terms of ROI?

    Preliminary actions: Try to prepare for the workshop as much as possible for having quick feedback and make the interview more interactive.

    We also identified that many bugs were mainly raised because of the “user-unfriendly” BO page, so we decided to work, first of all, on the layout to define a list of improvements without modifying the core code. The cornerstone of this exercise was to prove with a Proof-Of-Concept that we can dramatically improve the User Experience (UX) easily… and that we were aware of their difficulties and we were definitely committed to help them.

    BO_POC

    Mock-ups of our Proof-Of-Concept
  3. What are the Business benefits? Why should the company invest in these improvements / evolutions?
    • Having a better UX for the BO page was in our perspective very important because it was not user-friendly and made the management of the product too complicated.
    • It was too time-consuming for the Product team = loss of time: Time is money!
    • Need to understand their need better in terms of usage (what is their daily use, what they really need to improve? what kind of compromises can be done?)
  4. How can the product stand out? List all mandatory features for improvement…

Context: This part was complicated for both parties in order to align the technical constraints with the business need.

Workshop exercises:

  • We made interviews; what they want in an ideal world.
  • We tried to argue when their ideas or suggestions were not possible (because of other constraints, either technical or due to other products in our system…)
  • We asked the Product team to practice live in front of us with the BO and to explain to us what was complicated for them and so on with a real DEMO.

Output: We found a major workaround thanks to compromises and we decided to create a Wireframe and to submit it for approval.

skteches

Conclusion: Listen to Business needs and try to find “easy-to-reach” solutions. Try to be positive and only focus on problems to solve…The main goal of the workshop is to find solutions for both parties, improve features and make sure it will happen (roll-out in Live)… How to do this? Be attuned to your Business observations, lead interviews, demos and be patient….

The main objective of the Product Canvas is to validate real solutions (approved by IT and Business), and you will be able to build an efficient product. We are not talking about “developing” the product in this meeting but more to find what the best features are.

How to Create your Product Canvas in 3 Steps?

To create your Product Canvas, a four hours meeting is enough to initiate your first canvas. In case you require more additional time, it may indicate that you lack information….

To create your initial Product Canvas, take the following three steps:

  1. Create personas (who is using the product?)
  2. Outline the user experience and the features (What the product is expected do?)
  3. Determine what to do subsequently (Backlog grooming + macro-estimation + 1st draft of sprint goals / Spikes and so on)

ProductCanvasSteps

1. First step: WHO IS THE TARGET OF YOUR PRODUCT?

  • Creates personas : Define the type of users, their characteristics and their needs. Thanks to this, the needs will stand out and it will help you to find the right product features for step 2.

2. Second step: WHAT ARE THE MAIN FEATURES?

  • What the product is expected to do on a coarse-grained level. For this step, you have to collect all useful information regarding User Experience and useful features.

To define Ux and features, you can use:

  • Scenarios
  • Storyboards / Mockups
  • Epics /User Stories /User Cases

The most important is to validate that the list of features identified addresses the needs of all personas.

3. Third Step: HOW TO MAKE IT ?

  • Determine what has to be done (in terms of persona’s needs).
  • Make sure that your understanding is correct: you can work on wireframe, prototype (Proof-Of-Concept) to check the user interaction, the display and so on.

The three steps is clearly a draft version:

  • Detailed features are validated and defined on a sprint-by-sprint basis.
    Sketches can be added to give the big picture of the look and feel.

This canvas will of course evaluate and some features can be reviewed in more details.

Let’s Change Now !

If your workshop is efficient and properly handled, you can start your backlog and start sprinting. Of course, keep on gathering feedback and improving the User Stories:

Change

You will have to manage back and forth with the Product team, and the Canvas will hence change and evolve.

Product Canvas: Success !

We wanted to share with you this Agile tool because we thought that it was effective, and it definitely improves our relationship between the Business and the IT team.
A collaborative workshop helps to focus on solution and above all to find the right Ux and features for a product.

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License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


Written By
Chief Technology Officer Betclic
France France
I am Head of Software Development at Betclic France. I manage the Paris Dev Team, consisting of 35+ talented people, in various technical and functional projects in the fields of sports betting, poker, casino or horse betting.

Check out our technical blog at https://techblog.betclicgroup.com
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