Three questions to save your project

2017-10-04, 13:45 Posted by: Andreas Rowell

Save you project with three magic questions

When I engage in a new product development project I have a short ”reality check questionnaire” that I use. My experience is that three simple questions will tell a lot about the likelihood of building a successful product...

The magic questions:

Who are your users?

Don't underestimate the importance of understanding for whom you are building the product. If you for example build a system monitoring tool you must be clear whether you are building the tool for the operations staff, the commissioning team, the system testers, the business analysts, the development team… or maybe all of the aforementioned user groups? They will likely have slightly different needs, and one group may worship your product and the other group might loath it. So make sure to be specific regarding the intended users/user groups.


What jobs are you going to help the users perform?

What do your users want to achieve? What problems do they have? And how are you going to help them solving these problems? The answers to these questions should be reflected in the product backlog. The Jobs-To-Be-Done framework is a great starting point. Your web search provider of choice will assist you with more details.


How many users have you actually met in person?

If your answer is "zero" you're setting up your project for disaster. Get the h*ll out of the building and meet real users. Now! Understand their goals, desires, wishes, problems, issues. To cite Agent Mulder:

"The truth is out there"


Maximize the chance of success with relentless user research!

Give the magic questions a try

If you are a project manager, product owner, Scrum Master, business analyst, UX designer, software developer, tester, or anything alike - try to answer the above questions for your past, current and upcoming development projects. I would love to hear your conclusions!

I personally believe that a great product usually doesn't start as a ground breaking idea in a conference room - it more likely starts with a real human being having a real problem in the real world. What do you think?

Now go find a group of people with a problem! :-)


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Andreas Rowell

Senior Agile Advisor

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