How to pick a product problem worth solving

by Menaka Sivanesan
Published on 21st Dec 2023

Life is full of problems. A product manager's life is that, and more! It’s also the very reason we've been able to contribute to many, many awesome products. Since becoming a product manager, I’ve learned that the problems worth solving aren't always easy to spot and sometimes, you have to dig a little deeper to get to the issues that need fixing.

I would love to share some of the guiding principles that have helped me pick the right product problems to solve, so read on to find out more!

Finding a quality problem to solve

If you take a look around at the things you own, more often than not they are solving a problem for you. From having a reusable water bottle because you don’t want to keep harming the environment by buying plastic bottles to the tiny door-stop that keeps you from smashing that modern glass door that may or may not have been the most practical choice.

A product problem worth solving can often be found in the absence of something. This absence should cause enough pain or inconvenience that people are willing to use or purchase your product because they see value in the solution that you are offering. This leads us nicely to my next point.

Understanding that not all problems are worth solving

Let’s say someone wants to protect their phone while they sleep at night. The solution? A bed for your phone so it’s all tucked in and protected while you get some rest. Sounds a bit ridiculous, right? Believe it or not, this is a real product, however, not one that’s been particularly successful. Phone cases are the more logical solution and they make sense because they offer protection for your phone against damage all through the day.

Product managers tend to do a lot of research into more complex problems when they first get flagged to us. This step can mean the difference between solving a problem for a wider target market, addressing only a niche concern, or completely missing the mark and not solving a problem that anyone has experienced.

Problems can be down to perspective

Finally, we always have to question if the problem actually is a problem, and if it is, to what extent do we need to fix it, if at all?

Have you ever been sent an Egress secure email? (Protect fans - raise your hand!) A great example of this is with accessing secure emails. We heard from many recipients of secure emails wishing they could access these emails with their Microsoft and Google personal accounts (which I’m pleased to say we introduced earlier this year!) because it removes a huge point of friction for the user. No one wants to have to remember separate credentials for another service, right?

Well, partially.

It turns out there are lots of people who prefer having a separate account and feel that this provides them with more security. Luckily, Egress Protect caters to both requirements, but it’s a great example of how easily problems and solutions can be the complete opposite depending on user needs.

Remember that there is no single rule book for how to approach product problems. There are many schools of thought, which is what makes the role of a product manager's life so incredibly varied and interesting. Keep an eye out for more content soon!

Egress Protect allows you to communicate securely with anyone over email with flexible authentication options and security controls - all at the user’s fingertips!