It is 9:00 a.m. and you are getting prepared for your daily meeting. Your team introduces the concept for an upcoming product that brings together the physical & digital worlds.
If your team needs to build a strategy for this new product, here’s a roadmap.
The Basics of XR
Before we jump into action, let’s clarify what “XR” means. Taken from “Surfing to extended reality, what is it and does it work?”, the definition of XR (Extended Reality) may not be straightforward. But we can use this as a “wildcard” or catchall for Virtual reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), where “X” replaces any of the previously mentioned realities. Including any type of environment that combines the real with the virtual and allows interaction through any digital device.
First Step: Understanding the Project Background
The first and most crucial step is to understand the project background & business needs.
- Define User Profiles
By asking the business stakeholders (marketing or product team) “Who will be using the product?”: What are their facts? (Gender, age, professional & technical facts), “What are the problems they are facing?”, “Which behaviors they have?” (Before, while and after the process for specific tasks), “What are their needs & goals?” (What is the user trying to accomplish?)
Answer previous questions and you can build a “User profile” or “User persona” based on the most remarkable facts of the product’s user. This helps us to always understand who we are designing for.
- Ask about the Company’s Needs and Goals
“What is the company looking to accomplish or achieve?”, “What are some problems or issues that need to be addressed?”, “What are the desired outcomes or results?”, “What answers are being considered or suggested regarding adoption or implementation to fulfill business needs?”
- Ask about Deadlines and Budget
Does the company have a limited budget and a specific date to release the product?
Understanding the project helps to define value, what is worth doing, who are we designing for, and which are the challenges or considerations we should take before tracing our strategy.
Second Step: Acknowledging Your Team’s Capability
Before you jump into action, you must understand what your team can do and who will be able to do it. For this step, is important to have three key considerations:
The more your team knows, the better and easier for a product development. We may need to address a couple of questions, such as: “How many XR applications/products have we built?” “What do we know about trends, issues & environments?” “Which technologies are we familiar with?” “What are is our understanding in design guidelines and frameworks in development?”
Setting the baseline for knowledge/expertise of your team will be helpful when it comes to understanding the capability and/or limitations of your team.
Understanding the technology-related questions is important. Examples include, “Do we have any software or tools (SteamVR, AR.js, AR Foundation, etc.)?”, “Do we have to pay for a software license?”, “Do we have any physical equipment such as: CPU, displays (head-worn, spatial, room sized) trackers (controllers, marker-based, 3DOF)?”, “Are we going to design oriented towards a specific device/platform?”
If you understand your capability and limitations, you can understand if your team may need an investment for renting/buying devices and any software/tools/displays. Remember, you should consider this in your estimation.
Understanding the expertise that each one of your teammates has: Design, Development, Technology Management, Research and ask: “How can the product grow with the team?” “What do they add to the team?” “Do they have experience in ‘X’ and ‘Y’ software/technology/environment?”
Know that you understand which team players you have available, you can build your own “Dream team” based on the project's needs. '
Do not forget to list everything by key factor, and you will have a clear vision of all your team’s tools, capabilities and limitations regarding the project background and goals & metrics.
Third Step: Define Goals and Metrics
This last step will bond together every step of the strategy. This step is related to what will be the action plan(s) of the team for the project.
By defining goals and metrics, we can clearly define and measure if we will have success or not. For this exercise, we generally consider 3 factors:
- Goals & Project Objectives:
The project goals refer to the desired outcome of a project. This implies time-bound (deadline) & business objectives.
Goals are high-level vision statements that give direction to a project.
Project objectives are a low-level plan of action or deliverables to reach the vision.
Goal: Improve patients' experience when having an online visit to the doctor.
Project objective: Add patients’ vital signs monitoring within current VR App.
- Scale & Approach
“Is this project growing or scaling in the next months, years?” If the answer is positive, then we can ask “How much this will grow?”
The “Scale & Approach” refers to the experience, technologies, tools, and limits that the team could have. Scale implies security, maintenance, patches, updates, etc. We should ask what we have, what we can do and ask if it is necessary to use XR or not.
Scalable usage within iOS and Android smartphone devices
Bi-Weekly maintenance for 6 months.
Every project has mechanisms to determine if a project is successful by asking “Are we achieving the goal?” But how can we do this?... For Project Managers this task is simple, and the answer would be through metrics:
KPIs: Used to compare data points like budget variance, billable hour ratios, cycle times, among others.
Project metrics: Used to track productivity metrics like utilization, scheduling, and realization to understand what was done.
Do not forget to track your metrics, otherwise... how will we know that we are achieving success?
Increase CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) & NPS (Net Promoter Score) by 2 points after testing the new patients’ vital signs monitoring VR feature.
You can support this by using a project scope, roadmaps, or a specific Project management tool (Asana, Monday, Notion, etc.). By the end of this step, you will be able to understand the high-level vision of the action plan your team will build for the project.
By this point you can use previous steps as a guide to understand the users, goals, & metrics project. Furthermore, you will acknowledge your team’s capabilities all in one single document and discover if XR sounds like a viable way of solving the project’s needs & goals.
Building a XR strategy requires team effort, and I encourage you to ask experts in your team within the field about specifications and technicalities.
While not the “ultimate guide” to build an XR Strategy, the above steps have helped us with our XR projects.
Best of luck with your next XR Project!
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