Using the PESTEL analysis framework as a product manager
As interesting as it is to build and quickly ship a product or a feature, nothing is more painful than when you start cajoling people to at least try the product. Sometimes, as a product manager your attention is fixed on these four things:
- Designers will deliver a super UX/UI
- Engineers will build the product
- Marketers will get people to sign up
- Sales will ensure people pay for the product
One thing you do not really pay attention to is the users, and even if you do, it is generally in the way of — “how can I get users to use this thing?”. Whereas, it should have been = “do users actually need this thing?”
Always, remember, great product match customers’ needs.
Please die the idea that you are not the CEO of any product. Sometimes you’re just the clog. Have you ever thought that you might just be the blocker that should be removed for effective product delivery?
Martin Eriksson points out, “Product managers simply don’t have any direct authority over most of the things needed to make their products successful — from user and data research through design and development to marketing, sales, and support.”
Zooming away from your daily users.
Have you ever thought of the guys that actually make things move through regulations and policies as part of your users? Not entirely. Me too.
It’s high time you constantly do. Every time you are talking to the users that pay to use your product, schedule time to talk to users that understand and declare the rules. You don’t want to be caught in a frenzy when Emefiele comes at you. And the guy can really come at you quickly like a thief in the night.
Using PASTEL analysis to escape death and prosper.
As a product manager, your product is not about you. Stale news, right? You’ll be surprised at the sentiments that we product managers put into our products. One way to mitigate the sentiment that comes with attaching yourself to a product or feature is the introduction of PESTEL analysis.
JOKE: “What’s the best way to pay a product manager?
They love taking credit for everything.”
A little about PESTEL
Let’ do a quick dive in on PESTEL analysis.
These are factors or forces that will determine how your product fares.
According to a CIPD take; “A PESTLE analysis is a framework to analyse the key factors influencing an organisation from the outside.” These factors — Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental can be used by organizations, this time ‘startups’ — to identify big pictures opportunities and threats.
Startups and PESTLE
Big organizations are using this framework to have a better and bigger view of factors that can mitigate or improve their growth.
The PESTLE analysis is flexible, following an agile approach, startups can use the framework for different scenarios like guiding strategic decision-making.
For a startup, that is looking at expanding into other countries and then globally or internationally — some say they’re different, this is an essential analysis to do.
PESTLE helps you understand how government policies and legislation impact your product. Differing views on legislations, taxation, tariffs and their enforcement should be expected and welcomed. The political environment will have a significant influence on your roadmap. Other factors like trade control, import-export regulations and labour agreements can have a massive impact on your product (Priyanka Vaidya, 2019).
Harvard professor Francis Aguilar is thought to be the creator of PEST Analysis. According to a Mind Tools article, PESTLE Analysis is useful for four main reasons:
- It helps you to spot business or personal opportunities, and it gives you advanced warning of significant threats.
- It reveals the direction of change within your business environment. This helps you shape what you’re doing, so that you work with change, rather than against it.
- It helps you avoid starting projects that are likely to fail, for reasons beyond your control.
- It can help you break free of unconscious assumptions when you enter a new country, region, or market; because it helps you develop an objective view of this new environment.
In Africa, we’ve witnessed how each of the analyses has affected startups from when politicians decided to fight Twitter in Nigeria and other African countries, causing harm to businesses and their revenue. Not too long ago, mobility startups using bikes were ban in Lagos — O-ride, Gokada etc. Most of them have pivoted into logistics. For fintech, the central bank of Nigeria and SEC has not failed to constantly be on their neck. Not a bad thing because regulations must be regulated to protect and coordinate. That’s Politics.
The next is the Economic factor. Our population in Africa is on the rise and that has given us some power to negotiate at the table. However, Africa is filled with the poorest people. Available reports have pointed out how the middle class has drifted into the poverty level. Before you start designing your product or a new feature, have you considered the buying power — your consumers?
Africa in terms of their Social-cultural activities is quite promising — from the working-age to quick adaptation to change. This is good and bad — at the same time, for a startup. It’s a good assurance that people are available to use your product and bad because if you don’t innovate fast enough, these people will go with the next shiny thing. In Africa, you can quickly think of the traditional finance house (banks etc.) and the fintech (payment, bitcoins etc.).
We’ve seen a huge connection with the rise of the use of Technology in Africa — an emerging market. We’ve been termed the rising wave, the new worldfrontier and many other names. This is seen in the number of fundings pouring in on a steady. This year alone, the fundings has doubled what happened between 2019 and 2020. We also clicked two unicorns — Flutterwave and Opay, valued at over a billion dollars.
Legal is a big concern. You don’t want to finish building, only to realize you can not operate because of some legality. These things have to be sorted as you build or at the very least, you know they exist and have it in your roadmap to solve it. It is advised to keep your eyes on regulations, laws, policies happening in the environment you operate and the industry you operate in. See Aboki fx as an example….or the investment techs that got flogged by CBN and SEC — Chaka, RiseVest etc.
As an effective Product leader, you need to continually scan the political environment for any direct or indirect impacts on your Product. — Prinyanka Vaidya
Every country is embracing a better approach to climate change. The Environment factor. You do not want to be on the side of anti-climate change. Paying attention to your environment — where your business operates and where your product(s) is used, is very essential to how your product fairs. More people are now aware of their environment and the danger of climate change. This year, we’ve experienced some catalytic change, especially with rainfalls. Read this article by Techstars to understand the role of startups and climate change a.k.a environment.
Conclusion and driving it home.
Employing a PESTLE analysis as an appropriate framework can be used in a range of business planning situations.
- Strategy planning
- Workforce planning
- Organisational change
- Product development
- Product Marketing
- Product growth
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