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LET’S TALK ABOUT PRODUCT MANAGERS Josh Elman
PRODUCTS I’VE WORKED ON
WHAT EXACTLY DOES A PRODUCT MANAGER DO?*
*Can you explain it to your parents? Photo: Brian Brooks/Flickr
WHAT DOESN’T A PRODUCT MANAGER DO? - Write code (Engineering) - Create mock-ups (Design) - Sign deals (Business Development) - Plan PR (Communications)
Define the Market & Customer Product Evangelist & Champion Internal/External stakeholder Communication Launch timing, Sales & Marketing Collateral Product Manager Define the requirements & roadmap Define the problem & value proposition Competitors, Products & Capabilities
More simply... UX Tech Business Image: http://www.mindtheproduct.com/2011/10/what-exactly-is-a-product-manager
More simply... UX Tech Business Image: http://www.mindtheproduct.com/2011/10/what-exactly-is-a-product-manager You are here
PRODUCT MANAGER Definition: A Product Manager helps their team (and company) ship the right product to their users.
HELP YOUR TEAM Photo: Jon Candy/Flickr
WHO’S ON THE TEAM? Your team is anyone working directly on the product (or an area of the product). - Designers, engineers, QA, documentation, marketing - Assigned colleagues from team members from adjunct teams including business development, support, legal
YOUR ROLE ON THE TEAM You are not a “CEO of the product.” You are a team leader. - SET THE CADENCE - BRAINSTORM EFFECTIVELY - MANAGE PRODUCT OPERATIONS
SET THE CADENCE - Build the roadmap with brainstorm meetings (quarterly) - Articulate the roadmap clearly and consistently - Hold regular product operations meetings (weekly) - “Act Solid” (more on this shortly) - Take and share clear meeting notes
BRAINSTORM EFFECTIVELY - Everyone pitches ideas to drive biggest impact (No ideas are bad!) - Q&A where people pitch or describe ideas - Everyone votes for their top 3 - Discussion of why and how people voted - Re-vote - You now have top-3 roadmap plan. More or less.
MANAGE PRODUCT OPERATIONS - Share company news relevant for team - Gut check for features getting launched ASAP - Learnings and analysis of recent features - Roadmap check-in on new development - 1-2 key topics for brainstorm/discussion or guest speaker
AH, THE LIFE OF A GLORIFIED NOTE TAKER Some people think the job of product manager is glorious. Photo: OwlPacino/Flickr
In reality the most important thing you do is document decisions. Follow-up notes usually take longer than actual meetings. Involve people from extended team to get feedback, share plans. Photo: OwlPacino/Flickr
ACT SOLID Analytics Support Communications Ops Trust/Safety Legal International Design
THE COMPANY FOCUS IS YOUR FOCUS Understand and communicate the company’s overall goals and objectives.
Remind the team of the founders’ vision. Attach incentives to company goals. Bonus Hiring Tip: When interviewing product managers, look for how often candidates refer to the bigger vision of the company.
HELP YOUR TEAM SHIP Photo: NCDOTcommunications/Flickr
SHIPPING > PERFECTION Helping your team only matters if you can ship the product to users - Providing clear criteria for launch readiness - Make the difficult tradeoffs - Prioritize ruthlessly
Great product managers understand the very tricky balance between getting it right and getting it out the door.
HELP YOUR TEAM SHIP THE RIGHT PRODUCT Photo: Alan/Flickr
BELIEVE BUT LISTEN Start with your team’s most creative solutions. Improve your ideas with: - Feedback from testers and active users - Criticism from non-users - Input from founders and leaders - Ideas from anywhere you can get them
MEASURE RESULTS Have a theory of the impact you want to have. Identify metrics to demonstrate that impact. Generate data: what works and what doesn’t. Keep an eye out for unexpected learnings.
HELP YOUR TEAM SHIP THE RIGHT PRODUCT TO USERS Photo: Josue Goge/Flickr
ADVOCATE FOR THE USER A Core Use Case tells the story of who should use the product and why - Articulating the core use case is the hardest part of building a new product
A good product manager advocates for users every step of the way: - By understanding the challenges/issues of target users - By understanding how the product can deliver the value target users are looking for - By continuously listening to feedback (usability tests, meetings, tweets, etc.)
THE “DO’S” FOR PRODUCT MANAGERS - Coordinate key decisions based on team members’ input - Negotiate disagreements and maintain progress - Develop consensus from team factions, (disagree but commit)
THE “DON’TS” FOR PRODUCT MANAGERS - Don’t try to build what you think is right - Don’t expect that the team will execute orders blindly - Don’t forget where credit is always due
YOUR JOB IS NEVER DONE As a product goes to market, you should be game-planning the next iteration: - Plan for improvement (with entire team) - Additional testing - Brainstorming solutions based on data and feedback
THE PRODUCT IS NEVER FINISHED There is no right product... but there is a right way to be a Product Manager. Effective Product Managers simply help their team move forward.
No product will ever quite be right for everyone; it’s an ongoing process of continued development and iteration to make it better.