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What it Takes to Be a Product Manager: Planning is Key to Success
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What it Takes to Be a Product Manager: Planning is Key to Success

What it Takes to Be a Product Manager: Planning is Key to Success

Building Great Products
August 5, 2021
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9 Jogs
Why it matters?

Product managers are responsible for developing and executing the product strategy. Product managers facilitate cross-functional collaboration with designers, engineers, marketers and other stakeholders to deliver a quality product or service. They do this by understanding customer needs, developing innovative solutions and overseeing projects from concept to completion.

There are 3 main phases of execution

  1. Identify high value problems worth solving and who is impacted by these problems by researching competitive offerings
  2. Developing an execution plan based on data collected, which outlines timeline milestones that will be completed over time
  3. Coordinate the implementation of the project and be responsible for the overarching delivery of the product, including measuring success KPIs

Plenty of resources exist today to identify process best practices but more advice is published at a cadence that's hard to keep track. We have assembled the best advice available from all corners of the web so you don't have to dig, and best of all, as with everything in Joggo, the content is summarized so you can prioritize your time effectively upfront.

The Content

Each link contains a summary produced by one of Joggo's geniuses so you can decide where to spend your time learning more

December 6, 2016
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Sachin Rekhi
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Modern Project Management for Product Managers

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The Summary

One of the critical responsibilities of product managers is driving overall results. Focus on setting up milestones for different time periods to effectively carry out your goals.

Annual Planning

  • Think about the market you’re in, the industry you operate in, emerging technology trends, and the current position of your company in the market
  • Five-year roadmaps have been found to be effective because they focus the vision of the company
    • The upcoming year will be more detailed in the planning while the outer years should focus on broader achievements
  • Cost should be thought of last or loosely when trying to plan annually as this variable is too shifty

Quarterly OKRs

  • Make more accurate goals
    • Here use specific metrics that you want your company or team to target in a shorter time period
    • Appropriately estimating time and cost is important in this step for the transparency of the company as well as future quarters
  • Each quarter there should be 3-5 objectives and key results that the team should focus on
    • Should not be longer than a single piece of paper so that the team does not lose focus

Bi-Weekly Sprints

  • The mechanism by which engineering teams are run
    • Assign engineers to tasks that should be accomplished within this certain time frame
    • Also include research and development objectives in this time so that teams can be aligned on goals
  • At the end of each sprint, each team should be able to show what it has accomplished and where it plans to go from there

Daily Scrum

  • 15-minute meeting to go over what was accomplished the day prior
    • Review any issues that have come up so that they can be addressed earlier rather than later

Product Management Tools

  • Help streamline the project management activities
    • Being able to share across the team in forms such as a Google Document can help
    • Sprints will also be measured and tracked through this system
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Des Traynor
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Intercom

Rarely say yes to feature requests

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The Summary

To implement a feature, you must answer yes to every question below.

  1. Does it fit your vision?
    1. What do you know about this problem that no ne else does and how do you believe it should be solved?
    2. Keep your vision in mind and make sure the decisions you make are in line with your vision
  2. Will it still matter in 5 years?
    1. Do not just default to the mainstream trends, focus on the meaningful aspects of your product to discern whether it will have a long life-span
  3. Will everyone benefit from it?
    1. Do not satisfy the desires of a small sample of vocal users without taking a second to investigate how many people really want the feature
  4. Will it improve, complement, or innovate on the existing workflow?
    1. The majority of your time should be spent on improving or innovating upon existing ones
  5. Does it grow the business?
    1. The key point is to understand how the feature can translate to growth
  6. Will it generate new meaningful engagement?
    1. If you add a metric to track one area of your product, you must also analyze the other areas that are likely to be impacted
  7. If it succeeds, can we support & afford it?
    1. Don’t rush a broken build that will require numerous fixes and an influx of customer complaints for support
  8. Can we design it so that reward is greater than effort?
    1. For any feature to be used, the perceived benefit has to be greater than the perceived effort
  9. Can we do it well?
    1. To build a feature well, you have to understand the job it does intimately
  10. Can we scope it well?
    1. Badly scoped features meet no one’s requirements, ship late, if at all, and add nothing to the product but confusion

Slippery Slopes and Marginal Calls

  • Bloat, complexity, and disruption can only be seen in the rear view mirror, so always be mindful of the risk of saying yes
February 17, 2020
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Zepel

How to identify and make product improvements?

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The Summary

Product improvement is the process of making product changes that improves either product engagement or retention.

To identify product improvement opportunities:

  1. Map feature usage to your user's product journey.
    1. Have a clear representation of what features your users use and when, where your users drop off, and how users flow within your app.
  2. Measure the feature success throughout the journey. 
    1. Identify how each feature is being used, why it’s being used, and if the feature was successful in achieving its goal.
  3. Find the correlation between feature usages and business goals. 
    1. Use the Phi coefficient to identify the relationship between the number of times a feature is used and your goal.
  4. Identify what product improvement to work on. 
    1. Make adoption or frequency improvements based on the relationship between a feature and the goal, the number of people who adopted the feature, and how frequently they used the feature.
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Bokardo

1 hour of research saves 10 hours of development time

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The Summary

A developer was creating a stream view for an app, which takes a long time. When asked why, the developer said they assumed it was valuable.

Research first

  • Research can confirm if it's worth it
  • Opportunity cost is massive
  • Costs linger and are reflected in overhead
  • 1 hour of research ~= 10 hours of development time.
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Avichal Garg
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Product Reviews

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The Summary

Product reviews: process through which a company can scale product development and teams to make decisions through roadblocks

Goals

  • Discuss product ideation early
  • Make strategic decision
  • Involve the CEO

Common Mistakes

  • Treating reviews as updates with minimal engagement
  • Everyone not being on the same page

Review Logistics

  • Before: Outline questions and templates to have uniformity across conversations
  • During: Start with open-question discussion 
  • After: Debrief, synthesize and circulate discussion notes, and follow-up if needed
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Jim Brikman
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A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It's a Process

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The Summary

A MVP is a trial-and-error process to be iterated: build your product incrementally

Identify the riskiest assumption, implement a small experiment to test assumption, and use the results to course correct. - Nearly half of startups fail because they wrongly assumed that there is market need - Test assumptions by offering products to real users quickly and going back to cutting board - The winner is the one who can find and resolve errors the fastest

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Jon Lax
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Great Products Don’t Happen By Accident

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The Summary

The 2000s saw technology shortening business cycles and increasing disruption. As technology moved distribution costs to nearly 0, speed and agility became essential for business. However, speed is not the only thing that should be valued. We need to be able to stop and reflect on how we do what we do.

How do you do what you do?

  1. The author has been obsessed with this question
  2. However, the most common response he has gotten is “it depends”
    1. This shows the person has no conviction
    2. This isn't true because since every person has some sort of framework, but sometimes it is hard to recognize the patterns
  3. The jobs and tasks we do are things that can be achieved through repeatable actions and frameworks

Great Products Don’t Happens by Accident

  1. There needs to be some plan for how you do what you do
  2. We need rough architectures
    1. A set of boundaries we use to guide us in dynamic environments
  3. Football is a good example
    1. Playbooks consist of thousands of plays but only a few will be used in a game
  4. We need to build a playbook of how you build products for every company

Play Template

  1. Questions to ask:
    1. When to run this play?
    2. What can they expect from the play?
    3. What are the roles of different people?
    4. What actions do you do to run this play?
  2. Thinking in terms of a play book helps embrace continuous improvement since you can continue to update the playbook
  3. The next time someone asks how you do what you do... you can show them your playbook
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Dave Prior
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Planning Sprints and Releases w/ Jeff Howey

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The Summary

Work Estimations

  • Separate the work into tasks and use points to determine how long the task will take.
  • Have specific people who do the work, like the engineers and designers, estimate how long it takes them to get tasks done and tickets in the sprint completed.
  • Remember that people are prone to be off by some percentage when estimating hours to complete their work.

Management Teams

  • Management teams should contribute to making predictions for work estimation for their investors and customers.
  • View the role of a scrum master not as a project manager, but rather as helping the team become predictable in terms of work completion timelines and expectations.

Unfinished Projects

  • If you run into a dependency, have a problem you don’t know how to solve, and move on, eventually, you will have several things you start but don’t complete.
  • This disrupts the flow of the work with incomplete projects.
  • Each of the unfinished tasks takes on a cognitive burden, which will result in a decrease in productivity.
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Bob Galen, Josh Anderson
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Episode 190 - Great Roadmaps

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The Summary

Roadmaps are important tools in planning.

  • A roadmap is a forecast of a possible future, it is not fixed. You are visualizing the possible future.
  • While a roadmap is important to communicate to the board, it adds the most value to a team. A frequently forecasted roadmap enables a team to build better products.
  • Roadmaps also contribute to keeping up morale. Going on a journey with your team is compelling and exciting as compared to not having any direction. Knowing where you are going matters.
  • The receivers of the forecast (customers) must know that the dynamics of it are going to change, and that responsibility is on you. The updates must not be thrown out there and left open to interpretation - they need to be explained.
  • Professional accountability is key with forecasting; all members of the team must also be continually updated with all new information.
    • If you made a promise to a client early on, you cannot expect the rest of your team to pick up the slack if the forecast was incorrect. It is vital to update the roadmap and all members involved as things move along.
  • Cone of uncertainty: do not make promises to your customers during inception and elaboration of a project. As you’ve had time to firm things up, you can paint a clearer picture at the construction stage.
  • Good quality roadmaps will continually add value to a project.