Product Design Workshop
A workshop is one of the most effective ways to find out the client's needs (when there are, actually, many of them). In the traditional sense, it's a training event where participants exchange experiences and gain new knowledge while working in a group. More often than not, they get information from each other, rather than from the speaker or host. A product design workshop is a "business studio" where a team, consisting of different persons, groups, or companies, gathers together and understands the task of the project in the same way, ready to take responsibility for the result.
A client workshop will help you find a common language with the customer and the whole project team, as well as to gather the maximum demands on the project. But unlike other methods of project preparation, e.g. Skype-calls, questionnaires, and interview series, a workshop operates on a deeper level. Large companies have many departments, and each of them has their own view on the project and related KPI. Information, which you will gather in the pre-start meetings and surveys, is likely to be incomplete and contradictory.
Workshops can bring together both department heads, ready to make quick decisions, and line managers who understand the project. Joint discussions will help avoid misunderstandings and prevent conflict situations in the future.
When Do You Need a Workshop?
Usual ways of obtaining information like interviewing, filling in email briefs are time-consuming because the following systemic problems remain:
Consistent interviews with each of the stakeholders often lead to conflicting conclusions. Due to arising issues, the interview cycle has to be re-launched;
The client’s business is too complex for the team;
The client does not wish to be constantly involved in the development process;
Your company uses old products and solutions but is willing to create new services;
Employees have lost contact with customers and have no idea what to offer them;
Bureaucracy, conservatism, lack of time/budget for innovations and new products;
Employees spend too much time to launch new but eventually unprofitable projects and products;
Startups and competitors take market share away from you through innovations;
Your company is planning to restructure, but the teams do not have enough competence in managing innovations.
These and other problems slow you down and affect your product in financial terms.
We at Agente Studio, have created an effective workshop that helped deal with the mentioned problems really fast. Standard methods take 1.5 months before a concept, and in about 60% of cases, involve a plan re-design phase in the middle of the project or after the launch (pivot point). This increases the budget x1.5 times (on average) and shifts the
deadline by 2-4 months. At the same time, client costs increase x3 times + lost profit (variable value).
Basic workshop stages at Agente Studio:
1. Presentation. At the beginning of a workshop, we host a small presentation (30-60 minutes) to explain the purpose of the meeting to everyone.
2. Mission. The host will announce the main mission - this helps to unite and inspire the team.
3. Participation. Each participant must contribute.
4. Teamwork. Both teams are divided into groups of 3-6 people.
At the start of the project, the workshop provides great opportunities to work with a large group of people in one media field and solve communication problems. This is very important for the project/product - communication problems and mismatching expectations are the main reasons for extra costs.
A workshop is suitable for products on the start, service development, and complex systems with unobvious consumer benefits, as well as projects searching for additional profit for their company in the digital channel. Workshops are especially effective in financial, government, and retail projects. However, they are completely unsuitable for projects that simply need a fresh look or businesses that want to become more attractive from the outside.
Where to Start
The world, economy, people's way of life are radically changing under the influence of digital technology. In order to remain competitive in the market, businesses need to go hand in hand with consumer and technological trends, intensifying the process of creating new innovative products.
Customers come to us with various business tasks that can be solved with the help of digital products and services. Increasing sales, conversion rates, productivity, service speed, assortment management efficiency, and entering new markets are just a few of the tasks.
Figure out how many employees you need to solve the problem of great communication confusion. For 2 people, it's enough to arrange a meeting. You need to invite everyone whose KPI depends on the running project on the client-side. Also, everyone who will take part in the project creation by hand. We add a decision-maker for each department + the owner of the product.
Identify the range of problems that affect the quality and financial performance of the product, e.g., a misconception of product goals in different departments. A workshop will help them all agree on priorities. Before the workshop, you should interview each department or person (mentioned in the previous paragraph) to find out how they see their goals.
In the first stage, we study and analyze materials from international industry experts, collaborate with research and analytical agencies, vendors and startups, and conduct our own research to form a knowledge base and vision for the future of the industry. It contains consumer and technology trends, as well as the world's best practices in digital transformation.
Next comes the most important stage of the digital transformation sprint. Workshops are the main tool here. This is the stage when we go deep into trends of digital transformation based on our knowledge base together with the client's employees from different departments. We work out scenarios of digital transformation, focused on specific tasks of the company to achieve a set of business case studies - digital product initiatives.
A successful workshop requires serious preparation. First of all, you have to clearly define the main goal and objectives of the workshop, as well as the expected results. Participants, a workshop plan, and methods/tools used depend on it. Secondly, it's necessary to prepare informational and analytical materials (pre-read), which participants receive one week before the workshop to get acquainted with the context and prepare for discussion.
Workshop Team Players
Workshop participants are representatives of various functional divisions of the company, for whom the issue of digital transformation is relevant. No one knows their company and customers better than this company's employees. The main task is to extract valuable knowledge and involve colleagues in creating new products.
Let's consider a workshop for an organization from the retail sector, for example. Who should attend the meeting? Shop owners, assistants, as they are in direct contact with customers, management, as well as employees of the IT, Marketing, and HR departments.
The presence of the top management is necessary at the beginning of the session to give an introduction to the work and inspire the participants. Top managers do not directly participate in the workshop but observe the progress of work and attend the presentation and discussion of results.
The ideal number of workshop participants is 15-20 people divided into 4-5 cross-functional groups, each attended by an Agente representative to manage the discussion and help the participants use design-thinking (a method of creating human-oriented products) tools.
Market Analysis and Ideas Creation
The typical workshop duration is 2 days. The main purpose of the first day is to immerse the participants in the context of consumer/technology trends and industry's best practices, as well as to identify "problematic points" of customers, whether it's end-users, employees, or partners. At the end of the day, the participants should formulate the results, a deep understanding of customer behavior and needs, as well as ideas on how to solve related business problems and optimize business processes.
Discuss workshop objectives with your team. Everyone understands terminology in their own way - it's highly important that everyone gets a task to be solved in the same way. A moderator sets goals, which the team wants to achieve, and talks to each participant in a joint circle so that everyone knows who (and how) understands these goals. Every contradiction is immediately discussed.
Highlight the circle of questions and collect as much data as possible. For this purpose, we at Agente take the following steps:
Hold several meetings to get acquainted with and identify any differences in understanding the current and future product;
Learn primary quantitative indicators for business and audience;
Analyze the competitor market;
Determine a potential audience of the business, develop hypotheses to solve the main tasks of the project;
Prepare a mood board with solutions for similar tasks that we like - it's important that the client also does this work.
Find a room (ideally, a third-party location so that participants could distract from other work tasks and conflicts);
Create a workshop scenario in advance and get everyone ready for it.
At the initial stage, we present a summary of our research results to our customers. Typically these are industry technology and consumer trends, as well as our vision of the future business.
We tell our participants about the methodology and tools of the design industry, providing the opportunity to immerse in the consumer experience in practice. This involves creating a consumer profile, the buyer's path, identifying customer needs, and requirements.
The final stage of the first day is summarizing. The participants make up a register of identified problems and cluster them. The teams select the most interesting cluster of problems for further work and offer their solution scenarios, which usually leads to a lively discussion.
Prototype Creation and Presentation
The second day is dedicated to the digital product idea development and design, as well as the creation of a so-called "hot prototype." The team literally builds it from paper and cardboard, performs the initial testing of the product by interviewing customers in stores or their friends/acquaintances by phone.
Let's take another fashion-retail company for instance. Assume that on the first day of the workshop, a problem was identified - inconvenient dressing rooms with long queues and even longer waiting time for the seller with a different size. On the second day, a solution was found - an interactive dressing room. The buyer on the trading floor сhooses the thing he likes, indicates the color and size in a special app in the smartphone, and the model is automatically delivered from stock to the fitting room. In case the size is wrong or the buyers need an accessory, there is a tablet in the fitting rooms. Thus, the team creates a "hot prototype" of the app, and surveys visitors in one of the chain stores, assessing the value of the innovation for customers.
At the end of the second day, each team reports prototype testing results, as well as specifies the necessary improvements to the prototype or idea.
Real-Time Testing And Scaling
The main goal of a workshop is to choose the best idea, which creates value for clients and employees. The decision is made based on how the product will help improve the consumer experience, the way it fits the strategic goals of the company, and how it contributes to sales growth and/or cost reduction. The technical feasibility of the idea is also very important. For the winning product, a real prototype will be created as well as full-scale testing will be conducted. Consequently, successful results will trigger the implementation and scaling processes. Other ideas are added to the company's backlog and can be used later.
A successful prototype is a successful business model.
Agente Studio helps companies save time and money when creating digital products, as well as significantly reducing the risk of a wrong decision. A successful prototype is, in fact, a well-thought-out business model, financially successful, designed with the company's business processes, customer needs, technology/industry trends in mind.