Advanced Job Mapping For Product Managers

by drjim on December 16, 2008

Building A Complete Job Map For Your Product Will Reveal Customer Needs

Building A Complete Job Map For Your Product Will Reveal Customer Needs

Keep in mind that job mapping is a process by which Product Managers can discover what product features your customers are really looking for. Job mapping is a process by which you break down into a series of smaller steps the task that your customer is trying to accomplish while using your product. By doing this, you will be able to get a complete end-to-end view of all of the individual points at which your customer will be open to having your product either do more or do things differently in order to provide them with more help.

Last time we looked at the first four steps that a product managers needs to go through in order to create a job map for his / her product. These steps were consisted of studying the customer while they did the following:

  1. Define
  2. Locate
  3. Prepare
  4. Confirm

There are four additional steps that need to be performed by a product manger in order to create a complete job map. These steps are as follows:

  1. Having completed the steps that are required in order to prepare to perform the job, the next customer step is to successfully execute the job. It goes almost without saying that from a customer’s point-of-view, the execution step is the most important part of performing the job. This means that achieving the results that they are looking for is critical as well as avoiding any problems or delays that could slow things down.  This opens the door for product managers to study ways that their products can provide feedback to the customer in real-time or perhaps even go so far as to automatically fix problems that occur during execution of the job.
  2. During or after the customer executes to job, there will be things that they need to monitor in order to make sure that the job is or has been successfully executed. What the customer is trying to determine during the execution of the job is if they need to make any changes or adjustments in order to make sure that the job completes successfully. Note that monitoring tasks can be either passive and not take up much of the customer’s time or active and require potentially a great deal of the customer’s time. Product managers can learn a great deal from this step. If the execution of the job results in costly or critical outputs, improving monitoring functions can notify the customer of problems as soon as they start to occur and before they have a significant impact.
  3. All of this monitoring brings up the good point: what possibly could the customer modify during the execution of a job in order to ensure that the job was completed successfully? The key questions that need to be answered here are: where should changes be made, what needs to be changed, and how should the changes be made? Coming up with answers to these questions can potentially be quite time consuming. Product managers have an opportunity to create product features that would tell the customer how to get job execution back on track if problems occur. Additionally, cutting down on the time that is required to make the modifications can be a significant benefit to the customer.
  4. Having started the job, now what does your customer have to do in order to conclude the execution of the job? The conclusion of the job may have one or more steps dedicated just to wrapping things up. It’s important to realize that the process of concluding a job will often seem as extra work to your customer – they believe that the job is already done! If completing this job leads to the next, then customers will be impatient to start the next one. Product managers have an opportunity to add features to their product that will allow the conclusion of the job to happen as quickly as possible.

The process of creating a job map for your product will allow you to take those job maps apart and discover what features your customers are really looking for!

Do you believe that your customers view executing the most important part of using your product? Do they monitor things during the execution or do they wait until the end? Do you allow them to modify anything in order to prevent problems from occurring? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff December 17, 2008 at 11:34 pm

As always, very informative.

Would it be possible to post a high resolution image of the job map in this post? I would love to see what it looks like when completed.

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Dr. Jim Anderson December 18, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Jeff: Ok, so you’ve got me there. The image that I put with this post is actually a map of the Munich subway system. It was complicated enough to capture the point that I was trying to make: a job map can have a great deal of detail. There is not necessarily a graphical representation of a job map (that I’ve seen). More often the customer’s tasks are captured using words. The reason for this is that in order to build a job map you really have to interview the customer at each step of the process in order to gain a true understanding of what they were thinking at that point. Don’t look on this as though a graphical map is missing from the technique, rather think of it as allowing you to adapt to the specific customer and the specific job.

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