Eye-opening insights from 700+ product managers & leaders.
Axon’s mission is to Protect Life. Their technology is used by public safety professionals – law enforcement, EMS/Fire, corrections agencies, and a variety of federal and corporate customers. Products include hardware like body worn cameras, in-car cameras and TASER CEWs, and software for records management, first responder dispatch, and digital evidence management. The company is dedicated to continuous innovation to improve the safety of their customers and the communities they serve.
When Doug Waller, Senior Product Manager, joined the company three years ago, product managers had their own solutions for prioritizing what to work on. Product teams collected user research in Quip docs. And sales, support, and customer success logged requests and feedback as Jira tickets. If the request had been made before, the submitter searched for the older ticket and tagged it with the latest customer to make the request. This presumed that all these customers needed the same thing. In reality, subtle yet important context was lost.
“When it came time for product managers to decide what we should be building, a lot of those decisions were made with incomplete information. It was difficult to get a complete picture of the research that had been done by colleagues, or requests collected in the past, because this information was scattered across various tools.”
Another significant challenge was keeping track of what everyone was working on. With four major software groups, and several other teams working on special projects, it was increasingly difficult to collaborate, prevent redundant work, and avoid stepping on each other’s toes. The static PowerPoint roadmaps published once a quarter didn’t cut it for keeping product teams updated on each other’s work, and customer-facing colleagues weren’t satisfied either. With just a few words describing each feature on the roadmap, customer success managers had no choice but to come to the product team with one-off questions about the status of requests they’d received from customers.
“With static PowerPoint roadmaps, even if customer success managers found the feature they were looking for they’d still need to go ask a product manager to figure out what it really entailed. There was no way for them to self-serve that information.”
All this changed with Productboard. Previously scattered user insights are now consolidated in one centralized repository. The organization can extract even more value from these insights because it’s easier for colleagues to learn from each other’s insights, not just those they directly logged in the past. And each time a request is captured, it’s not just the customer’s name that is attached to a feature – the full context of the original request is available to view at any time.
“It’s so easy to get bogged down in the technical details of what you’re building that it can be easy to lose track of the customer voice that was the seed of the idea to begin with. It’s really great that I can go back into Productboard and get to the bottom of why we’re really building this feature to begin with.”
Product managers across every software group now house their roadmaps in the same system, for visibility into what everyone is working on. Customer-facing teams can access the latest roadmaps, updated in real-time, so they don’t have to wait until the quarter. They can click into each feature for rich context on what’s really being delivered. Being able to self-serve this kind of information greatly benefits customer success because they can get back to customers sooner and be better informed on customer calls. (Product managers don’t mind it either!) CSMs can even custom filter roadmaps live on a call to show just those features requested by the customer, something they never would have been able to do before.
“Customer success can say to a customer, these are the things on the roadmap that you specifically requested and we’re developing for you…”
All of this has enabled a closer relationship between the product team, sales, and customer-success. Colleagues feel like the insights they’re providing are really being heard.
“Closing the feedback loop has rebuilt trust between product and customer success. And that in turn incentivizes our colleagues to put more, better data into the system, which continues the virtuous cycle of making valuable data available for product managers.”
Looking ahead, there’s much for the product teams at Axon to look forward to. They’ve seen an expansion in their mandate which will involve pursuing new types of objectives surrounding customer retention, innovation, and expansion into new markets — in addition to closing new business. As product teams across the organization saw the main software groups benefit from Productboard, everyone wanted onboard. Now every product team at Axon benefits from the centralized product management system that Productboard provides.
“As a product manager my number one job is understanding why we’re doing anything. And once I understand the why, I need to define what we should be building. Productboard is the source of that why and helps me connect the what with the why.”
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