In human-centered design, we are taught to place the needs of the user as the focal point. This is true to product designers and UX designers but not always to the product manager.
Product managers have an essential need to be a business analyst before designers.
However, as the product manager, there is an implicit need to understand the needs of the business before the user. The role of the product manager is to ensure that the business investment is properly reflected in the outcome of the products that are designed.
For example, sometimes in HCD, we may interview the users of a point of sales system for their pain points, needs or otherwise.
- Most users are not thinking about the big-data analytics behind the user interface.
- Most users are not thinking about the financial auditing and compliance requirements behind the routine data input fields, whose reason for existence was long lost in training manuals.
- Most users are not quite concerned about predictive behavioral analysis v.s. desired outcome driven design. There is no way a user can fully understand and desire the same behavior as that of the business.
- Most users do not care about the budget, scope, or time of the project. This means that there must be an advocate for the business, who also understands the tradeoffs necessary to create a user-friendly, human-centered product.
This is where successful product managers must step in the fill in the blanks to lead the business analysis towards meaningful requirements for designers and developers.
Therefore, Business Process Analysis is the backbone of all great products.
No designer should start their first mock-up without a solid understanding of the current or as-is state of the business. I have seen products go strangely awry with the wrong requirements due to the lack of product manager or owner’s leadership This is not a matter of Lean UX or other software management principles.