In today’s increasingly competitive market, it’s essential for leaders to make sure their teams are moving as fast as their consumers’ demands. Companies like Etsy, Facebook, and Amazon that are constantly improving the functionality and cost-effectiveness of their products have five traits in common:
- They are organized around small teams. Each five to seven person team is responsible for one function of the entire product, such as registering a new customer or taking a credit card payment. A team this small helps the leader target problems more easily and move on changes more quickly.
- They automate testing and making product updates. Traditional product testing can take months, but it must be shortened to minutes if your product is delivered online (e.g., a streaming movie service or an online newspaper). Automate the testing process through fast and reliable software. Most online companies have a system that scans for coding errors and another that puts the updated product into the field.
- They conduct lots of small experiments to reduce risk. The best online product companies make small changes to their product and test them on a subset of early adopter consumers who are open to change. Rapidly testing small new features with selected audiences minimizes the risk of delivering a faulty online product.
- They inform product developers on how their product is performing in the market. Traditionally, marketing teams collect customer feedback on products and report back to the product engineering team. This hand-off can take up valuable time. It’s best for product developers to monitor a stream of data on product performance so they know exactly what changes trigger errors or performance problems.
- They value customer service over product transactions. Companies selling online products or services must regard their customer relationships as continuous, since online accounts can last a lifetime. This means it’s crucial to constantly be in touch with the consumer and make sure the product is performing to their standards.