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How to Use the Value Proposition Interface Canvas

The goal of the Value Proposition Interface Canvas is to make an API's value proposition explicit to validate it and eventually find a good problem-solution fit. The canvas consolidates the Empathy Map Canvas and the Value Proposition Canvas, which complements the business model canvas. The Value Proposition Interface Canvas consists of two parts: the Customer Profile and the Value Proposition Interface Map.


  • Customer Profile: the customer profile maps the jobs that the customer wants to get done as well as the derived gains and pains that facilitate or hinder getting the job done.

  • Value Proposition Interface Map: The Value Proposition Interface Canvas maps your company's relevant apps, products & services, data, and business process. Based on that, it maps the derived pain relievers and gain creators, which are related to the customer's pains and gains, respectively. Pain relievers solve a customer's pain and gain creators facilitate a customer's gain. Generally, the pain relievers and gain creators form the value proposition. The interface represents the Value Proposition Interface (VPI), which is an API. Th VPI describes the interface to the value proposition and how the customer can access them.


Value Proposition Interface Canvas

The Value Proposition Interface Canvas is about the flow that connects the Customer Profile with the Value Proposition Interface Map. Consider how each box talks to each other rather than thinking of each one as a separate lists.


In the following, we'll guide you through the process of working with the Value Proposition Interface Canvas.


Pain Reliever Flow: Solve Customer's Pains


Customers are primarily interested in solving problems and in relieving their pains. Therefore, relieving customers' pains is crucial with respect to their buying decision. Truth is, gains don't sell. But they make up for good differentiators and added value.


In the following, we present how our API product is helping the customer to get his job done by relieving his pains.


How to complete the Pain Reliever Flow


Start with the Customer Profile. Be very clear about the jobs that the customer wants to get done and what the pains are. Afterwards, continue with the Value Proposition Interface Map. List the value sources (e.g., data sources, apps, business processes). Find pain relievers from those value sources that relieve the customer's pains. Finally, translate the feature to the interface (API). The following figure presents the pain reliever flow. The numbers indicate the order in which they have to be completed.


Flow of a Value Proposition Interface Canvas for Pains and Pain Relievers

  1. Customer Jobs: Describe the jobs the customer needs to get done.

  2. Customer Pains: Be clear about why those jobs are painful. Validate those pains with the customer.

  3. Value Sources: List relevant data sources, apps, business processes, and other products & services.

  4. Pain Relievers: List the features of your API product that will relieve their pain.

  5. Value Proposition Interface: Translate the product features to API features. More precisely, describe the API's resources and methods.


Step 1 and 2 are straightforward. Likewise, Step 3 is straightforward, which requires knowledge about the company's capabilities and functional knowledge.


However, most of the people get stuck in Step 4 because they typically just negate the pains of the customer and miss to explain how they will relieve the pain. Actually, pain relievers have to explain how they relieve pain rather than what pain they relieve. You can draw a line between the pain reliever and the pain to indicate what pain is relieved by the pain reliever. Sometimes, multiple pains are relieved by a single pain reliever or a pain is relieved by multiple pain relievers.


Here's a simple trick to define pain relievers: end your pain relievers with a noun to describe a feature of your API product. Further, don't just pull the features from your products, applications, business process or data. Think about them as the sources of value, which you can alter and interpret differently to formulate new features. For example, your customer data are also sort of verified identities, which you can use to provide a service to verify identities. So, in other words, API products can be new innovative products that reuses your company's capabilities in new ways to solve new problems.


Step 5 is also straightforward and involves API design. Consider the Hierarchy of API Design Principles as guideline for the definition of the API. The pain relievers provide the value, and the interface provides the user experience.


Finally, we have some elements (customer jobs, pains, and pain relievers) that we can combine to a sentence that describes a value proposition. Now, you can provide a prospect customer something tangible to contemplate and you can validate your value proposition.


Gain Creator Flow: Boost API Value with Gains


Truth is, customers don't buy your product because to get gains. If their business is doing badly then customers are primarily interested in cost reduction. If their business is doing well then customers enjoy the current situation and don't care much about improvements. Nevertheless, gain creators make up for good differentiators and added value.


In the following, we present how our API product is helping the customer to get his job better done by creating gains.


How to complete the Gain Creator Flow


Typically, customers talk about their pains the have to get their jobs done. Gains are different, however. They can be completely new elements of feature. That's why it's better to start again from the customer's jobs rather than from the pains.


Analogously to the pain reliever flow, start with the Customer Profile. Be very clear about the jobs that the customer wants to get done and what gains facilitate the jobs getting done. Afterwards, continue with the Value Proposition Interface Map. List the value sources (e.g., data sources, apps, business processes). Identify gain creators from those value sources that facilitate gains for the customer. Finally, translate the feature to the interface (API). The following figure presents the gain creator flow. The numbers indicate the order in which they have to be completed.


Flow of a Value Proposition Interface Canvas for Gains and Gain Creators

Let's define how we create gains for our customer. It is quite common to repeat a similar mistake as with the pain relievers that negate pains. All to often, customer gains just negate the pains.


  1. Customer Jobs: Describe the jobs the customer needs to get done.

  2. Customer Gains: Be clear about what can provide gains. Validate those gains with the customer.

  3. Value Sources: List relevant data sources, apps, business processes, and other products & services.

  4. Gain Creators: List the features of your API product that will create gain.

  5. Value Proposition Interface: Translate the product features to API features. More precisely, describe the API's resources and methods.


Step 1 is straightforward whereas Step 2 is not. Contrary to pains, it's difficult for customers to imagine gains if they haven't seen it yet. In most of the cases, it's up to us to think about gains that a customer hasn't thought of. Nevertheless, they have to think that it's amazing when they see it. To this goal, it's important to know the customer and the job he wants to get done. Be creative!


Step 3 is again straightforward, which requires knowledge about the company's capabilities and functional knowledge.


However, most of the people get stuck in Step 4 because they either mirror customer gains, but miss to explain how they will create gains, or the just mirror pain relievers. That's why it is key to again start with the customer's job. So, analogously to the pain relievers, you have to explain *how* they create gain rather than *what* gain they create. You can draw a line between the gain creators and the gains to indicate what gain is facilitated by what gain creators. Sometimes, multiple gains are facilitate by a single gain creator or a gain is facilitate by multiple gain creators.


Step 5 is also straightforward and involves API design. Consider the [Hierarchy of API Design Principles](http://api-as-a-product.com/articles/hierarchy-api-design-principles/) as guideline for the definition of the API. The gain creators provide the value, and the interface provides the user experience.


Finally, we have some elements (customer jobs, gains, and gain creators) that we can combine to a sentence that describes a value proposition. Now, you can provide a prospect customer something tangible to contemplate and you can validate your value proposition.


Benefits


The Value Proposition Interface (VPI) Canvas is based on the value proposition canvas, which helps to make it explicit how products & services are creating value to the customer. To this goal, it presents clearly which product features relieve which customer pains and what product features create gains for the customer. Remember that the customer doesn't care what products & services, data sources, apps, business process, we use in the backend.


The VPI Canvas incorporates the notion of API as a product. An API relies on existing sources, (i.e., data, apps, products & services, business processes). Think of your API as an interface to a value proposition that allows you to select and alter features of these sources. Then, you'll start shaping innovative digital products that create value to customers and reuse existing capabilities of your company.


 

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©2019 by Amancio Bouza.