What risk?

As I was walking down a trail outside of Vancouver, I encountered this warning sign. It was one of several signs highlighting the risks some cliffs ahead posed to life and limb. Clearly, those who came before us failed to consider the risks, and they installed both a fence and numerous signs in the mild of a forest to discourage people from getting hurt or dying.

This got me thinking about the dangers or risks we face as product managers. What are the warning signs we need to head to avoid our product dying an early death?

When was the last time you stopped to consider the biggest risks your new product or feature faces?

When we consider our product’s risks, we often focus primarily on budget and schedule. Those often feel like the biggest risks, but I believe there are four significantly more dangerous risks that Marty Cagan identifies as value, usability, feasibility, and business viability.

Marty Cagan’s 4 Product Risks

  1. Value Risk – Will the customer buy this or choose to use it?
  2. Usability Risk – Can the user figure out how to use it?
  3. Feasibility Risk – Can we build it?
  4. Business Viability Risk – Does this solution work for our business?

If you can plan ahead for these risks, it’s more likely your product will typically overcome a delayed launch or overbudget implementation. But a product that fails to account for these risks is certainly doomed, even if it’s delivered on time and within budget.

How are you creating opportunities to address these risks early in the development process?

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