One of the first things I like to do when starting a project is a bit of a thought exercise to understand my core product areas. Specifically, what problem are we trying to solve?
So taking parking as an example – we want to make it as easy as possible for people to find and pay for parking. Simples. What does that actually mean though? At this point, write down everything you can think about what you’re tying to do. It wont look pretty but it’s an important step. From there, we will try to make something abit more ordered. From my own notes I have a bunch of things I want the system to do so I picked them out and wrote them down clearly.
Specifically we have a few core scenarios to play out.
- Customers must be able to find parking locations close to them
- Customers must be able to get a quote for their parking
- Customers must be able to buy parking
But that isn’t quite everything. As a Software as a Service product, our end user is important, but we have to remember we are selling the service to companies first.
- Companies must be able to add their car parks to the system
- Companies must be able to add tariffs to their car parks
- Companies must be able to see details of who has paid to be in the car parks
Ok. So we have some simple requirements for our core platform. Let’s start our mind map and visualise the rest of our notes.
So at the very centre of our mind map is parking. As an aside here, I can hear Customer Centricity purists crying out that the customer should be at the heart of everything we do, so it should be at the centre. You’re not wrong! But this is not from the customer viewpoint, this is our product viewpoint. Ultimately, you’re buying parking, so let’s start there, but what next?
Let’s go to the next level. The core parts of our Parking system include, Customer, Car Park, Tariff and Events. That is to say, that in order to buy parking, we need to know who’s buying it (the customer), where they’re buying it (the car park) how much it costs (the tariff) and how when it happened (the event).
Let’s take it just a little bit further to get those ideas fleshed out abit more.
So there you have it, our first basic mind map. We have our core areas and have gone a little bit deeper to get out what that means to our product based on the user requirements defined.