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Securing Support For a Revamped App

Managing Expectations
Product
Stakeholders

9 April, 2021

Akhil Sharma
Akhil Sharma

Senior Product Manager at Expedia

Akhil Sharma, Senior Product Manager at Expedia, shares how he managed to secure support from internal stakeholders for an app that needed to be revamped.

Problem

I joined a somewhat stagnant company developing a cloud desktop app that was helping users download updated software based on their licensing, subscription plan, and budget. The app was already in its mature stage, and we tried to revamp it by honing our understanding of the product life cycle and reimagining the app’s role.

Actions taken

We initiated a project to revamp the app by capitalizing on the options the app already had. Since the app was available on users’ desktops, we had a large user base that we could tap into. I felt that we should start engaging users in a more meaningful way and thus develop a brand value proposition for end-users. I did user research of the entire life cycle, followed by the creation of a prototype and introduction of new formats and workflows along with new interfaces.

However, the biggest challenge I encountered was changing how the company perceived this app. They used to think of it as a platform app to download updates and largely underestimated its potential as an engagement and marketing tool that could be used to upgrade to the higher-value plans.

Convincing internal stakeholders turned out to be critical. VP of Engineering and the whole engineering team were not supportive of the revamping idea because their key metric was not to increase the error rate. A new interface that we were proposing implied new maintenance responsibilities that would fall on Engineering and could impact some of their metrics.

I started convincing the business and product leadership first. I did some prototyping and enlisted a product prototype on the Adobe release forum where users could try out new products that we were launching. That allowed us to collect feedback; we received a lot of subjective feedback on how users were experiencing a new product as well as the analytic data on how people were interacting with betas and new features. Those findings helped us convince the VP of Engineering to at least try some of the innovations we were doing and include them in the roadmap. Aligning them to the overall benefit that went beyond the specific Engineering KPIs proved crucial for securing their support.

The revamped app became a huge success and one of the leading apps to market, re-target and engage users through the platform.

Lessons learned

  • Before proposing any change, it is critical to understand where the product is in its product life cycle and what is the right moment to re-invent the app. Almost every product goes through a growth phase, reaches a plateau, and then starts to decline. We were at the end of the plateau phase when we decided to reinvent the app before it began to decline.
  • How to get key internal stakeholders on board before launching a large initiative is massively important. A large initiative can involve a great number of stakeholders whose support is a must to move forward. Unless you secure their support and ensure alignments across departments, your initiative is likely to fail. Conducting user research, prototyping, and data that showcase what users want/need is the best way to secure their support.

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