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A Product Manager's Job

by joshelman

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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)
  • Product Manager Define the Market & Customer Launch timing, Sales & Marketing Collateral Product Evangelist & Champion Define the requirements & roadmap Competitors, Products & Capabilities Define the problem & value proposition Internal/External stakeholder Communication
  • More simply... UX Tech Business Image: http://www.mindtheproduct.com/2011/10/what-exactly-is-a-product-manager
  • You are here UX Tech Business More simply... Image: http://www.mindtheproduct.com/2011/10/what-exactly-is-a-product-manager
  • Definition: A Product Manager helps their team (and company) ship the right product to their users. PRODUCT MANAGER
  • HELP YOUR TEAM Photo: Jon Candy/Flickr
  • 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 WHO’S ON THE TEAM?
  • 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 Support Ops Legal International Design Analytics Communications Trust/Safety
  • 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
  • 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 BELIEVE BUT LISTEN
  • 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.
  • TO USERS HELP YOUR TEAM SHIP THE RIGHT PRODUCT 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
  • 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 YOUR JOB IS NEVER DONE
  • 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. THE PRODUCT IS NEVER FINISHED
  • No product will ever quite be right for everyone; it’s an ongoing process of continued development and iteration to make it better.
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