In a Product-Led Growth company, there’s always a risk of customer and business value becoming mutually exclusive.
Especially when teams are pushing for these dimensions separately.
In May of 2023, the SimplePractice product organization came together in beautiful Santa Monica, California for our bi-annual Product Summit.

One of our themes centered around building products with holistic value. We asked our teams to embrace a formula that can help by including a set of key variables as they prioritize their work: Customer value, business value, adoption at scale, our customers’ willingness to pay, and market differentiation of that feature. 
The formula might sound complex, but at its core is the idea that we’ll need our product team to build solutions with deeper understanding of the business and with broader stakeholder alignment.
Building products with holistic value requires us to prioritize and build features that are simultaneously good for the business and the customer. In a Product Led Growth company like ours, PMs are calling the shots with what we build. And choosing what customer problems to solve and how they translate to customer and company value differentiates a good product manager from a great product manager.
I’d like to see designers become great partners to our PMs and to get there, we need to look at “the how” we build as a shared responsibility. One to which, with deeper knowledge around our business, Design can become a powerhouse contributor.
Knowledge and behaviors
of Business Designers

At a startup and early stage company your #1 goal is to determine product-market fit plus finding features that have value to customers and they will adopt.
As your company grows, the second part of the equation becomes much more important. You are finding ways to grow your customer base, but also ways to grow company revenue to fund more innovation and remain competitive.
Understanding your company’s TAM, SAM, and SOM can help. These are the metrics that the Marketing function within your organization use to describe the market your business operates in. At SimplePractice, we’ve restated our Design “definitions of done” to include Product Marketing stakeholder reviews to help us agree and align that our customer challenges and designed solutions support our SOM, SAM, and TAM. 
Define Design KPIs
Design is inherently subjective. It’s influenced by personal opinions, experiences, and tastes. But when it comes to product design, the ultimate goal is to solve problems effectively. To achieve this, there are ways to introduce objectivity into design conversations and decisions. Utilizing well-defined design Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can help us in several ways:
Removing Subjectivity: Design KPIs enable us to move away from subjective judgments and opinions. Instead, we can rely on measurable metrics and data-driven insights to evaluate design decisions objectively. This allows for more focused and productive discussions.
Ensuring Value Creation: By defining and tracking relevant design KPIs, we can have confidence that the products we are building bring value both to our customers and the business. KPIs act as a compass, guiding us towards designing solutions that align with user needs and generate positive outcomes for the company.
Demonstrating Impact: Design KPIs provide a means to tangibly measure the impact of our designed solutions. They allow us to evaluate whether our designs are effectively addressing the problem at hand and track the progress and direction of our efforts. This objective evidence helps us gauge whether a design is truly "working" or if adjustments are necessary.
The SimplePractice Design team used our time together during our Product Summit to take a bottoms-up approach to drafting design KPIs. With IC input using FigJam and whiteboard workshops, our Design team created a solid set of success measures rooted in customer value. To help Design KPIs align up to our business goals, managers will workshop to synthesize and evolve the draft goals with broad stakeholder alignment to balance the customer value with business value.
Our ratified Design KPIs will help ensure design work is pushing the business forward in lockstep with the rest of the company. Shared goals and metrics are a cheat code to get teams to partner and work together.
Reflect the business strategy in our narratives
Think of all the places we surface the voice of the customer or the value that we want to create for them. From our design briefs, and user journeys, to Engineering user stories, persona definitions, and design walkthroughs:  designers should extend our narratives to include how our work translates to company value.When Product teams grok the business goals from the teams that inform our product roadmaps (PMM, strategic leadership, etc.), then translate it to create strong product briefs for design and engineering, we have an opportunity as a design community to reframe the business goals and include them in our own documentation and storytelling. Doing this ensures the XFN partners that engage directly with us in later stages of the product life cycle will still receive the business context they need to take their work forward with a holistic mindset.
Our double/triple diamond processes are typically siloed from the company’s commercialization process and Customer Success processes. At SimplePractice, we are introducing stage gates across our product lifecycle to include broader stakeholder input and alignment… not just within our triad XFN teams. This, in turn, will help Designers converge on customer challenges and design solutions with more business precision and impact.
Know Your Company’s Key Business Metrics
Familiarize yourself with the key business metrics that your company tracks. Some good ones to read up on and understand include Monthly Recurring revenue (MRR), Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV or LTV), Conversion Rates, Churn Rates, Active Users and engagement metrics, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Expansion Revenue, Payback Period, and Viral Coefficient.
By understanding these and gaining line of sight to them through dashboard or top-down shared decks, designers will gain insights into various aspects of the company, including revenue generation, customer acquisition and retention, user engagement, and overall growth. Monitoring and analyzing these metrics helps identify areas of strength, uncover growth opportunities, and make data-driven decisions to optimize design strategies. It’s also important to work with your cross-functional counterparts to analyze these metrics together. A sweet spot for doing this at SimplePractice is ahead of locking in roadmap items. When done well, you might be able to identify areas where design improvements can positively impact business outcomes, and suddenly different and interesting experiments can bubble up higher on the prioritization list. Use this process to inform your design decisions and demonstrate the value of design to the business.
Participate In Market and Competitive Analysis
Stay updated on industry trends and conduct competitive analysis. Understand what competitors are doing, how they differentiate themselves, and identify opportunities for your products using these signals, not just qualitative data from your existing customers. This knowledge will help you design innovative solutions and stay ahead of the curve.
Something as simple as setting up an open Slack channel to share what’s happening in your competitor's space, read/see their product marketing, understand how they’re differentiating in the market, and stay connected to industry trends can propel design ideation to great new heights.
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