One thing we learned early in our journey to build Conserv Cloud is that we cannot afford to guess what people want. Every startup tries that at some point and (spoiler alert) it does not work. What works better than guessing? Listening!
Today's Conserv product is the result of hundreds of conversations with professionals involved in the day-to-day work of cultural and historic preservation. These exchanges resulted in thousands of distinct insights and individual bits of feedback that we rely on to create a product that serve our customers well. How do we manage it all, and what is our process for collecting and managing all that information?
We work several channels for learning what our customers are trying to do, where things are frustrating or inefficient, and how we should prioritize what we do next. Our first and most direct channel is through interviews. This is where we start when we begin the discovery process on something big. Environmental monitoring, data analytics and integrated pest management all started here. During these conversations, we take copious notes which end up in a tool we utilize to organize product ideas and feedback called, Productboard. Productboard is also the place where anyone in the field, customer or not, can go to tell us what is important to them. Conserv maintains a product portal, powered by Productboard, where we post the big things we are working on. Anyone can join the conversation, leave some feedback on a feature, and tell us how important it is to their ability to get their job done. Our product team goes through every single piece of feedback we receive, linking it to improvements to current features or, potentially, new things we need to build. The importance ratings and quantities of feedback for specific features has a direct influence on how we prioritize our product development efforts. Our product team also spends a lot of time reading and researching what's going on in the field, both to develop our own understanding of what it means to do preventive conservation well today, and where things are headed in the future.
The combination of open feedback and deeper conversations quickly makes clear the definition of a MVP (minimum viable product) for a particular part of Conserv Cloud. Throughout the process, our team is creating, recreating, and refining designs. The best of these are built out as an interactive mock up, which we invite our users to click around in so we can see how they experience the design first hand. Inevitably this means more changes, more refinement, which leads to the first actual public release! Great, we're done!
Ha! Not exactly. The first release of a new product or feature is only the beginning. Once something is out in the world and we see people are using it, it's time for more conversations, more feedback, and more iterations on the design. A great product is a process, not a goal. Every feature in the current version of Conserv Cloud has gone through multiple iterations since it was first released.
So what does the future hold for product at Conserv? You tell us :)