Buyer , User , Startups , Scaleups — 01.24.2024

Exposing Hidden Threats: Four Signs You Need A Digital Product Agency

Katie Lukes, VP, Product Strategy & Research

The concept of a digital product agency was new when we launched in 2014. It took several conversations to help prospective clients understand how and when they might be able to use our services. 

Today, most people understand the benefits of product management, product design, product marketing and product brand. As digital product agency work has become more mainstream, founders and product leadership teams have learned that an agency like Innovatemap is an effective way to fill gaps in their team, make faster progress towards milestones and push boundaries. 

Sometimes, it’s clear when it’s time to bring in outside help for your product team.

  • Deadlines are missed.
  • Key initiatives aren’t progressing as expected.
  • You’re churning customers and missing key growth metrics. 

But often, the signs don’t reveal themselves so easily.

After working with more than 300 SaaS companies at various stages, we can spot the silent killers — issues that sneak up on your team as a result of company growth. You might not even recognize it’s happening, but these problems can degrade your team’s performance, devalue your product’s experience and negatively impact business goals. 

We’ve identified some of the hidden challenges we see most often. Addressing them head-on can lead to breakthrough moments for both the team and the product. 

Spending too much time in the weeds.

Teams often live in execution mode. Caught up in the daily tasks, your team rarely finds time to step back and craft thoughtful product strategy. 

Working with an agency like Innovatemap forces behaviors that result in action. An external partner can ask the hard questions to make sure your team is building the right features. An outside perspective can help you understand how to connect what you’re building back to business outcomes — not just building for the sake of building.

For each partnership, we establish clear decision frameworks and dedicated meeting times. Having designated time with an agency partner creates space for strategic thinking that you might otherwise delay for more urgent priorities. Our partners often share that the only time their team works on strategic, forward-thinking initiatives is when they meet and work with us. It’s their opportunity to focus and make progress on critical company initiatives. 

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have items on your roadmap that keep getting pushed back because the team is putting out fires all day?
  • Are there important innovation initiatives that require research and strategic thinking that your team can’t make time for right now?

Your thinking is stale. 

Stale thinking can take several forms: Maybe you’re working within the confines of a design system you’ve had for years, or your team has not had the opportunity to stay up on current paradigms and standards.  

A digital product agency like Innovatemap offers an objective, new perspective. We can identify fresh approaches to old problems that you’re too close to see. It’s difficult to spot flaws and inefficiencies when you’re in the weeds. Having an external partner helps you see where there’s room for improvement, and most importantly, how those improvements will tie back to business goals.

Positioned both inside and outside your company, we bring strategic insight and creative ideas. Our thorough discovery process at the start of every engagement helps us to deeply understand our clients’ business goals, industry and product. Because of our vast experience across industries and products, we have the toolkit to apply the most effective design patterns and incorporate best practices. We stay up to date on paradigms in the SaaS space, so we know what users are seeing in the market, and the standards they have.

Ask yourself: 

  • Do you feel like the user experience is dated or out of step with digital product experience today?
  • Are the same words, patterns and ideas being recycled in your teams’ work?
  • Do you need perspective into what’s happening more widely in your industry to inspire the team?

Silos are starting to build. 

As your company scales, departments and teams become more siloed. It’s inevitable. While there are efficiencies gained in specialization, you can lose cross-collaboration. Today, it’s vital for product disciplines to work together. 

Brand and product marketing should not solely exist within marketing. These teams offer valuable insights for the product team to ensure that users have a consistent experience throughout their journey. There are key brand touch points throughout the product that a brand designer, working in tandem with a UX designer, can bring to life. Product marketers create in-app copy that instructs and informs users in clear and concise manner. And UX designers can bring the right product screens into product marketing materials to generate excitement. 

Our most successful partners are those who take advantage of our mix of disciplines to create a unified, holistic experience. 

Ask yourself: 

  • How does your product reflect your brand today?
  • Is there a sharp difference between what prospects experience in your marketing and what they experience in your product?
  • Does your marketing give prospects a sense of the product experience to build excitement?

Your team lacks product experience. 

Beyond helping with specific projects, the best agency partners transfer knowledge to internal team members. Internal teams might lack experience building roadmaps or leading design teams.

Working side-by-side in collaborative delivery models, teams gain exposure to how our experts establish context, structure plans, solve problems and present information. The frameworks and methodologies we’ve developed over time are proven and adaptable — and we consider it an obligation to share. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Do you have team members who might benefit from product frameworks and better understanding best practices?
  • Are there younger team members who would quickly absorb and adapt new thinking?
  • Are your product team leaders stretched to fill too many gaps? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Nearly every team we work with experiences these challenges at some point. 

These issues are often a side effect of success. Having more users, more feedback, more team members and more financial pressures means that your team’s focus is on taking care of what you have right now, rather than looking toward the future. 

A trusted partner like Innovatemap can provide the kickstart you and your team need to make progress on vision and innovation.

Ready to elevate your SaaS product with insights from seasoned experts? Let’s connect.