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In this episode I and my guest Irina Miranos – one of my colleagues – talk about what makes a product successful and how to measure success of a product, how to tell if an idea is viable, when to drop the development of a prototype to cut losses – and many other things.
Transcript (courtesy of Otter.AI)
Please note that the transcription below was generated automatically and may contain misspellings and errors. If you want to help with cleaning the transcript – please get in touch!
Vlad G 0:07
This is real world product management.
Vlad G 0:15
Hello, everybody. This is the second episode of product that is with podcast but already have first guests with me on on this podcast right now. Please introduce yourself.
Iryna M 0:26
Hi everyone my name is Iryna Miranos and today together as well as we’re going to go through a number of questions that we’ve got in regards to product management and hopefully that this will be something interesting not only for people in our company, but also for the outside world.
Vlad G 0:46
Thank you. Right. So first episode, I recorded the webinar that I did inside our company, I removed some of the proprietary notes and made it more generic. Still, we believe that questions that people were asking during that webinar would be interesting. Everyone. And as an extra, we’ve produced a bit that is specific to our company. And those people who work for a company will be able to hear it at the end of this episode. So let’s start rolling. First question that we have is, how have you measured success of the product? What is the ROI of the product for the client? And then I’m going to ask her some of these questions specific to the product that I described in the previous episode. I’ll go more generic and then Irina will add her own thoughts that are derived from her own vast experience of product management. So for generally for us, the ROI is one of the most important metrics of the product success and so is customer satisfaction. For data heavy for example, for b2c products, you can capture pure data like signups business funnels, through the website, heat maps and so on. And collect collect sufficient amount of data to be able to say Whether it’s product successful or not, generally a measure of the adoption for b2b products, it usually is not that easy, especially in the early stages, when you don’t have all the customers, you don’t even have all the customers exposed to the product, you’re releasing it to a very specific cohort of customers, just to see if it satisfies the need if it answers the specific needs of a customer. And in the case of this particular product, most of the data we’re collecting was qualitative rather than quantitative, which means we asked customers do you like it? does it solve your problem? The need something to be fixed? Do you want additional teachers? How well does it work for you? Those kind of things, so we did not have a specific ROI attached to it. We did not have any specific KPIs attached to it. It was just a generic. Yes, no. How well does it work? On top of that? This particular product that though I was describing the previous episode, relied on specific business process steps to be done in a very specific way. One of the benefits of exposing customers to this product or having these customers adopting this particular product is that their realization that those process business process steps were not done correctly. And certain specific data required for the product was not even collected to begin with. So it wasn’t it wasn’t a product KPI. But it was a way to validate if the current business process is correct. Once they saw it’s not they had to make changes in their own business processes first, or change things within their organization before they can even start using the product. You read. I know you have your own thoughts on this. So by all means, jump in.
Iryna M 3:44
Sure. So let me start by saying that b2b and b2c world those are quite different things. And in b2b world, you basically get a much longer period of adoption of her particular product, and it’s not always easy to conquer Alright, rights rights out there one since day one once you implemented the product. So with that, we only see that we measuring success of the product not only by rating you not only by fan finance numbers, but we also doing that by measuring some quantity two for metrics as you will have mentioned, and we said we often the looking for some kind of adoption metrics and adoption in the wide medium, because again, it can be measured in all the different ways you can go from a just a basic understanding the usage on daily, weekly, monthly basis, whatever it is, versus you can go through, you can go through any kind of the metrics that would indicate that people switch from the older system. So all the systems that are covering pretty much the same need and the same pain for user to your brand new product. So with that, again, you’re measuring adoption and that gives you a good insights into how popular your product is within their organization. Another metric that can be applied here is any kind of their optimization that is happening on the process side. So anything that you would see in the increased speed of processes in particular class, for example, or anywhere way where you can minimize resources needed to process certain aspects of the business that would give you good insights into what your product improved as well. And again, this is something that’s straightforward and much easier to measure. Start in week one or month one of your product implementation compared to finance numbers and financial aspects, that Samson that would come later in b2b world.
Vlad G 5:52
Cold arena. Thank you. Alright, let’s move on next. lashley next They’re questions that we received. They’re very similar nature. So I combine them both. One was for a full time frame from start to finish with the program. And the other one was how did your project last? When did you get your first real clients in production? So first thing, and I want to hand it over to reason here real quick, I want to make sure we understand the difference between projects, programs and product development, because those two are completely different things may be related on some level, but in the true sense of the word or not. And Irina, please chime in here on this topic.
Iryna M 6:39
Sure. So let me start by saying that within every product, you would see a project inside, you would never see a product that does not have a project sale, there’s always a project but then what’s the difference? Actually, project would have certain criteria how you recognize one really simple And straightforward. So first of all project has certain timeline in mind and milestones and deeds to which this project is tied to. It also has certain scope and budget. So there’s always certain limits for how long your project is going to take, how expensive it can be. Also, it has a team who is working on that product on hand side, this is something that’s very unlimited and that can leave for years and years and years and have multiple and multiple projects within it. We all know how for a number of products we are making different releases. So each of these releases can be treated as a separate project, but does mean that we are changing the product of course not. So all of that T’s within the particular product and some other aspects that again, would differentiate project and and product as how we are doing fine findings to be Basically your budget for the project is usually located on annual basis and it can be some other time range as well. For product. This is something that is continues with probably more frequent revisits. Usually it’s up to three months, every quarter when you’re doing some kind of the checkpoint and abilities and how you are with your resources and with your budgeting. And also, a big difference between project and project would be on metric side. Because again, for project what you’re measuring is making sure that you’re on time and on budget. Of course, visit certain quality and sound technical aspects measure rate. For product, what you’re measuring, its customer satisfaction eats any kinds of the profitability or success of the product. It also can include market share and the gain adoption rate and so on. So the metrics would be quite different between those two and I do know People quite often confuse the two that we should remember that project and product would require a different approach. How to do precision.
Vlad G 9:11
Thank you. Yep. Thank you from from my end. I’d like to add that I was part of the engagement recently that was, I was part of the engagement recently that was supposed to completely remove project and program level thinking from a teams that were involved in product development. In other words, that would be a milestone slash checkpoint, for the budgeting perspective for the budgeting aspect of it. So you guys need more funding? Do you guys need less funding? What is the current status and what else do you need to move forward? But the whole concept of projects that program would be completely removed from the product development and the only stream so to speak would that were there was to be left was a team based fine dancing. So think about it as the teacher team that is receiving steady stream of financing, and is developing feature capabilities or full products. And there’s no projects involved. There’s the programs involved. There’s just specific milestones or touch points every six and 12 months to adjust the budgeting for those teams, which is yet another way of doing things without any projects or programs, all for product development. And this is why we have different people on this podcast. This is the idea. So we can see different approaches and different aspects. So Irina, thank you very much for your perspective. I just want to add, since there was a question, when do we how long did this development process last? And when did we get our first real client in production? This particular product that was mentioned in the previous episode to nine months, roughly from When the idea was formulated when we literally spelled it out within the organization, to the launch date, it was roughly nine months. Within those nine months, we were able to validate that idea makes sense, it sounded solid, we were able to develop several prototypes, were able to engage with a champion customers. So we had production customers, even before product, keep the MVP phase. So we can really tell you, I can’t really tell you, we can really gauge
Vlad G 11:33
how long it took for us to get a first real client because we had real clients prior to MVP phase. Those were our champion customers that helped us shape the MVP shape the product and shape the products roadmap. So hopefully that answers that question succinctly. And let’s move forward. The next question we got based on previous episode is how do you decide when to park and initiative me After you have a working VP. So this is this is a really easy question, because the answer is obvious when it stops giving you proof, but it doesn’t give a value doesn’t present the value or it stops giving out the value. In other words, when it doesn’t work anymore, which means one of the things happened, we’re not able to generate profit or sustain a specific retention rate. Some of the products in the market are developed not to generate revenue, but to generate a specific retention rate. And I gave an example in the previous episode. It’s it’s the product that is not there to get new customers is because the product or feature of a product or capability of a product that is there to keep customers from moving away. And from a generic example it would be the whole story with Apple TV and iTunes. Yes, you may change, you may change the device you possibly can go to, I don’t know Android phones or Windows Phones when they we had them. But your library stays with the Oculus. So you’re effectively changed to the ecosystem that you had before. So that is the iTunes was there not to generate any profit, but to generate a specific retention, retention rate for the customers. Another. Another thing that may play into abandoning the initiative or abandoning a working product, is when you’re unable to scale when you can’t scale anymore. You have way too many clients or the clients started consuming too much or too much or too many of resources depending on how you measure the resources. And you can’t sustain that rate. Back in the day when Dropbox was a new thing. There was a lot of new startups that tried to do same thing. There’s a document sharing, you know, collaborative editing. And most of them died out because they weren’t able to scale. They had a product that was usable to extend they had product that was the customers were buying, but they didn’t have an ability or capability to scale. And one by one they died out. I was, I was working for a company that used one of those, we decided to use some donate product instead. Something else that was available from one of the major players. And eventually everybody stopped using it because it was slow. It didn’t sync documents correctly because a lot of customers overwhelmed the servers. And eventually we ended up using something generic. Another reason we’re not able to sustain the support similarly the similar capability to many clients using the system they have problems, but we can support them. We can scale the support organization or support capabilities to support all these customers and obviously customers are Happy this thought leaving leaving the organization to stop using product product dies out. And another thing after you have in the working MVP, and you decide to abandon it, you can’t sell it. And this is one of those things that really boggles your mind. Once you’ve if you’ve never done sailing, if you’ve never tried to sell the product to the market, is that you think you have a solution for a problem. He developed into a product and seemed like you validated and does solve the problem. But when you present it to the customers, customers say listen, yes, it’s a pain for us. But it’s not such a big pain that I’m willing to be to resolve it or I already have a process to resolve it. So I want to pay for it. And again, this another reference the previous previous episode, the industry that that product was developed in was a very thin margin industry. So this may be the reasons why you are unable to sell it not because your product is inherently bad. But because the cost of your product, or the price of the product is to is prohibitive to the current to the market that you’re selling it to got your customers are not willing to spend their money on solving this problem because they sending their money for something else. That would be another reason why you are unable to sell the product even though you haven’t been up dust over the solar problem. But hey, nobody wants to pay for it. Irina, you want to add anything to this or we moving on?
Iryna M 16:30
Let’s move on for now. Okay.
Vlad G 16:34
All right. Next question. In terms of prototyping, would you go by yourself here in the early stage, or would you suggest this to be a task for UX designer? What is what are your thoughts on that? I’ll start and then I’ll hand it over to Irina, because she has her own slightly different point of view, which is great. So we hear different different angles on this. Personally, I’d love to do everything by myself. So that I can project the vision, the product vision that I have directly to developers and tell them what I want to be done. But as my experience says, a lot of almost all my products always fared better. When there was a dedicated UX resource that designer or customer experience expert at hand, which means I’m not that great at design, I can and will project the vision, but it’s always better when the designer takes over and Russell’s out of my hands. During ideation prototyping stage, it’s fine to use some wireframes you know, just something you put quickly that quickly put together on the back of a napkin for you, I. But once you start showing this to other people, not just you, it’s always better to have someone call them better qualified in UI UX realm than you and again, maybe you are as a product manager. You’re coming from UX In that case, you probably would be would fare better than I did. But in general, it’s always better to have a UX person doing the UX personally, and and I learned this the hard way, by developing those products that I mentioned before. I’m a big fan of collaborating between people in teams, I always try to find people that would be would have proper skill set for the job. I learned the hard way not to be a UX designer and always engage someone who is an expert in that field. Irina, I know you have your own status. So please go ahead.
Iryna M 18:39
Sure. So I’m trying to keep us back, tied to b2b world and in most their examples, most of the companies that I see out here is basically we’re patient with the situation when they say x is done by specialists in this error, and sometimes it’s the whole separate department who is doing the work And dx and who is starting, doing any kind of the prototypes and team one together with the product team together with the daily routine, sometimes we see that this is people who are incorporated into product team because they have to stay in touch and close ties with product managers. Otherwise, you’re just not going to be successful. But still, it’s it’s passionately so dedicated people who are working with design. Of course, as a product manager, you can start doing some early prototype by yourself, especially when you need to sell an idea to business owners, for example, or to any kinds of other stakeholders. And the reason for that is the fact that it’s better much better to show one pager but just one image to them and then talk for an hour about your product and what you’re going to do about these, rather than to come with nothing show NASA and down to occur in that word. Believe me, people will seek to this image and the We’ll use it and reuse it many, many times after that. And of course, as a product manager, you do need to have a good chance for what good you access and what good UI is. But it still doesn’t mean that you need to do that on your own. It’s always great if you have such understanding what the good dx is about the curse was that it would be so much easier for you to validate any kind of the prototypes that are being done for you and then making the adjustments but it’s really hard to see up to date with all the transcend these era and, you know, it’s really hard to look at your product after you work them down for a month or two with fresh eyes and leash with fresh, understand and how it might look like so I do encourage you to have a separate, dedicated person or even department working on that. And as practice shows, this is what many many companies are doing They are quite successful in establishing the model when product team is collaborating with your actors. But you have served a CEO a separate service and they are doing drop based on their knowledge and experience. That’s
Vlad G 21:15
cool. Thank you. Yes, I so this is actually one of those topics where we are in complete agreement. My one of my recent engagements, actually had a UX expert as a part of the product management team. So, product management team was a team standing up on their own and it was consisted of a product manager and UX apart from a couple of other people. So they worked in collaboration and presented the unified vision of a product, including the user experience. Alright, moving on to the next question. The next question is to identify market and product needs. The proper market research is required. Did you do it yourself? Or do you use sources provided by the client or something else? This is a great question because I’m going to talk about experience. Within the smaller team. I know how it is in the larger companies, and I’ll let the arena speak to that. But I’ll focus on how small companies do this. And they don’t. The pain of being within a small company as as as much as it presents you with a lot of opportunities and a lot of flexibility. The pain is sometimes you can’t afford to pay for market analytics, or you can’t afford to engage with analysts from major companies. You can sometimes you can’t even afford a large enough marketing department to do this research for you. So what happened to me in this previous engagement, this specific vertical that I was working at, I had to work with subject matter experts either within their organization or from customers, which is what I briefly talked about the intersection of higher your customers. That was my marketing Research. That was what I ended up doing, going to people who worked in this industry for a while, who either had their own businesses or used to have their own businesses. And they have a vast amount of experience with specific things. And that is, it was the best that was available to me at the moment. And that’s what I used as a marketing research by had had to interview customers multiple times, either same customers multiple times or different customers, to keep probing to keep looking for those areas of opportunity for those pain points that customers didn’t realize they have because they got so used to the pain, they don’t really recognize that it’s the pain. And that would give me that will give me an idea of what the market needs, and how can we close that. So it was a interesting process because it opened up a lot of inner inner knowledge of the industry, but it also was are painful and not really efficient. Because there was a lot of repetition of things that were not interested. But people would just want to talk about it for a while. And that was really interesting in terms of how you extract the data that makes sense to you from all these interviews and all these interactions with subject matter expert within the company, and then clients. Now, I’ll let you take over and talk about the real way to do the market research in the b2b world right now, please.
Iryna M 24:32
Sure. So I probably should start by saying that there’s always ways how you can start doing market research in b2b world and in bigger setups, the right thing to do would be start looking at any kind of the analytics from Gartner, Forrester or any other such kind of organization that can give you a much clearer picture where you’re going to be in couple of years was the competition in this year. almost sure you actually can use such reports to understand how you’re doing on technology side and see and make sure that you’re actually choosing the right technology for a solution and where your competitors might be outdated in a couple of years. So just be curious, you know, the, the stack that’s in use bind them is going to be absolutely By that time, but was that realistic was saying when you’re a product manager, and when you’re in the market research stage, there are so many different activities that you would need to handle as a product manager and part of doing the external market research you also need to perform there in Toronto or storage or collect the information that you already have within your company. And that can come from your team who’s already been working on product for so long and can serve as a good source of information for you. And also as a product manager, you obviously like to talk to clients Coming back to this case that pleb mentioned that your current clients, your current customers, might have a pain that they so used to that they wouldn’t even realize that that’s a key. And this is something that can be fixed. So collecting with all such information might be really useful for you as a product manager to see how can you improve your future product or a new new version of the product or just a new product. So with doing all of these internal or internally piece and activities, you obviously will not have much time to get to go outside and to get access to these extraordinary markets. And with that, what we see happening in many, many enterprises is market department, marketing department helping product managers to do such market research. And that’s actually been up to you as a product manager not only in getting some free time for gain due to make To work and make happen, may come through some other teachers that you will have, but also that helps them to understand the market better. So later on in the game when marketing department will need to form a marketing strategy and go to market strategy, they will do rare to have a much better insights into what the market is out there was the competition was their target audience, what’s the market size and someone’s now collecting all this information upfront for you as a product manager would benefit this market and their department later on as well. So, with that, we actually do see that in many cases, there are some marketing department who is doing that also there is a role of markets and product manager who can take on such activities. It still doesn’t mean the product manager should not understand the competition and should not understand our The market out there is absolutely key. So the product manager should have really great insights into that. It’s just a matter of fact, that’s not exactly Product Manager by himself or herself, need to perform all of these activities and all of these actions. And you definitely can and true to use all the help that is available for you here in order to perform market research as quick as possible. Because other cases that we saw happening quite often as well, is the fact that market research on its own takes several months and probably by the end of this exercise, and by their time when you have results, some information that market research might be already obsolete and you’re ready several months later with your product. So this is something that you kind of help dads, you with us. might help you and might assist you in doing such market research mix and match apostrophe. But
Vlad G 29:07
thank you, I think we’ve a way of talking about this deep enough. So let’s move on to the next question. Do you please share how you create MVPs in the cheapest and the quickest way which tools for prototyping you use? Not sure if there’s a specific tools I would recommend, it really depends on a technology stack and the problem you had the problem you trying to solve. In this particular case, this product we’ve had a bunch of SQL servers will hold we had a whole Microsoft Office where Microsoft shop so we use Excel and SQL databases for processing some of the logic and presenting the results. For other VPS have used anything that is free and open source, WordPress, WooCommerce, auto, any Drupal any other open source components or systems we could find. This is not only for the previous For the product that I was describing, but for many enterprise worlds I had lived in before that, sometimes it would come down from really high level executives. Don’t bother with requesting specific resources, find what you can align, whatever is open source and free, show us how it would work and that we will use that prototype as a as a way to request the budget as a way to justify the spend that hey, we can use this for licensing reasons. So we have to build something like this on our own dollars. arena. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to chime in.
Iryna M 30:39
Sure. So when they’re talking about prototype and you know there is no one right way how you can do that and how you can win the dq or D or upfront isobaric different key says froma going by a napkin exercise, you know when you’re meeting medium business owner, potential sponsor, and just Trying to draw to your product on the napkin in a restaurant. And sometimes it works. And also, on the other hand side, you can do really deep prototype bar your own using any kind of the tool that’s available to you, I probably should say that one of the most useful is still PowerPoint, and many people are still doing lots of prototypes and showing different flows within the PowerPoint. And this is something that everyone has available really great to share. And you know, no one’s going to question you why you’re using prototype, why you’re doing prototype in PowerPoint. So yeah, I do see that happening a lot. And sometimes it can have a level of complexity, whether you’re getting up to several thousands of different elements on one page or this slide. So you know, it might be really deep work through a prototype, even though it’s still pretty point out, of course, you can do that too by your own. So basically, the only seen, the only resource that requires is your time and your energy. If you’re in those pins and much money on that, as you can tell, if you’ve got some budget, you can hire some of their yaks or some of their front end developers or some of the UI representatives and developers and those people can help you to create a more realistic and clickable prototype. And this is always great when you can show Nolan the some pictures how the product will look like, but also kind of show some kind of the flow, how the data will go between different screens and so on. And that’s a real powerful tool as well and not to this level of details. It always great to share any kind of insights like that or any kinds of the early prototypes like that when you’re changing in kind of the conferences or any kinds of events where you can see your potential users And your potential clients. So when you have this level of details, it should be enough for them to understand what your product is about how it’s going to look like how it’s going to work. And in this is really powerful to how he can get in earlier feedback about your product. Although I would be cautious to go into saturated white would use, we use just black and white version done in PowerPoint because with that, you might cause even more confusion and many questions have been asked about your product. So when you’re getting out there with least the prototype, just be sure that itself explain that theory. And people can just clicks with that on this tab these without a bigger instructions or, you know, extortion around different elements and functionality that you would expect to have within your product later on. So again, product Typing can be an easy and cheap same. And you can spy, you can spend as much money as you as you will spend later on the product by doing the very detailed and extensive prototype. But that’s the matter of the question. And of the KPIs that you would have some time said, we’re spending money on doing number of detailed prototypes and then gotten to the point of when you have the right product to be built, rather than doing an early MVP or the project, spend some money there and then figure out that this is not Sampson, that won’t work. So no one right way no silver bullet played by the conditions employed by your budget.
Vlad G 34:46
What battery. Thank you. This was great. So keep moving on. Next question again. Which tools do you use for metrics tracking? And before I answer Before I answer this question, I just want to point out that it’s great that we’re focusing so much on tools. But in reality, most of the responsibilities of a product manager can be done with just with Excel or with pen and paper, as long as you have the right data in front of you. It’s less about tools. It’s more about what use those tools for and what kind of information you’re gathering. So for that particular product, we’ve used Google Excel with list of clients, their feedback answers and the issues they’ve experienced. Obviously, if you have a b2c product, and you’re collecting vast amounts of data, if it’s a web application, or if it’s an app, you can use Google Analytics or any other tool to collect the data points. But the end of at the end of the day, for stakeholder reports, you’re probably not going to have them log into Google Analytics or Adobe analytics or any other things. You probably collect those reports that put them into Excel against their other KPIs or other metrics that you’re tracking, or you just those screenshots. And it’s really not that important which tools you use, it’s more important how you present the results. And if you’re really tracking those metrics against the KPIs that you care about, I’ve seen many times where people were so obsessed with, oh, hey, we have bazillion visits to our website, guess what 90% of it is either bouncing or it’s bots. So you’re not really getting the actual customers or people who are really interested in your product. You’re just having a lot of parasite traffic to your website. So really, be careful about what you’re asking. You really care about the tools, you really care about what those tools are showing you there. Even if you have a short note, please feel free to add.
Iryna M 36:49
Yeah, so when we’re talking about metrics, one of the important aspects over here is to remember that you’re not measuring metrics just for the sake of measuring those. you’re measuring them for the sake of other understanding that up on the success pass if you’re doing things right or if not so much than to convert down to certain actions. So what I would recommend to do here is not to be that much focused on the tool. Of course, we can mention some of them, but just not to market a particular tools and software probably wouldn’t do that today. But rather emphasize the fact that you need to identify what are the key metrics for a product and measure those unconstant beezus. And make sure that you have certain very limited set of metrics on which are your report and remember that when you’re reporting beat, based on these metrics to your business owners, you shouldn’t use tons of numbers, they will never read through them and they will never understand that stick to probably three five metrics that you You probably not even measuring directly, but something that you are calculating based on the metrics that you see in your product, and then start reporting on them on weekly, bi weekly, monthly basis, whatever it feels right for a particular product. So with that, you definitely can use several tools. And this is actually what’s happening in most of the cases. But make sure that again, you’re not only looking at these metrics, you’re making them you’re converting them to certain actions. You’re trying to prove certain metrics, you have the key metrics as Samson that you constantly monitor probably on daily basis. And you have a minimal set of metrics, the Bleacher Report back to a business that would i would say as the most important aspects. Of course, in today’s world. When we are talking about desktop applications, Google Analytics would supply you quite a big amount of data about your product, although it’s not going to give you the full picture. And there are a number of tools available on the market that will help you to better understand what’s happening with the retention within your product, how you and dealing with the conversion of your customers, and so on. So, definitely look for Thompson additional to Google Analytics that would serve the need for a product and again, don’t be obsessed with numbers. Don’t be obsessed with number of this metrics, be obsessed with gatson success was your product went back to
Vlad G 39:42
thank you. Let’s move on. Next question really deep. Is it necessary to perform all these activities support? Or is it necessary to perform all these support activities by the product manager that all the time when are the times to grow your own product support team and as collide all these activities through them. And this isn’t the reference to the part of the story the previous episode when I talked about the responsibilities of a product manager and how Product Manager ends up doing a lot of things around sales support marketing, interfacing with developers, interfacing the legal team and literally everything there is to do as a business owner or a meanie CIO, the CEO of a product. And my take on this in allowing a small organization that I was a part of, you do end up doing all of that and it’s really amazing hands on experience, when you are responsible, literally responsible for all of that you are responsible to reach out to legal counsel and draft a contract. You are responsible for either producing a sales and marketing collateral, or having a very major stake, very major input on that down to individual items on that one. Or on that website, you It’s really amazing experience when you touch every single part of your product management responsibility scope. And it does give you a lot of new things to learn. Of course, nobody, nobody’s born with that knowledge. So it does give you a great learning experience and introduces a lot of humility to being a product manager. But if I was to isolate, at least one of the activities that I would absolutely recommend everyone would go through, it would be sales, I would absolutely encourage anyone who wants to be a product manager to sell at least one of their products, not just develop a control with the market and see what sticks, but actually go and sell it. If you’ve never done this before, it would really blow your mind because it presents you with absolutely different perspective on things. absolutely different view on how your customers perceive your product, especially if you’re coming from development of ba QA testing any other IT environment at any other key background? It absolutely, if you never own your own business, it will absolutely blow your mind. It’s one of those experience that you absolutely must have in order to be a successful product manager. I know Irina has a different take, which is why is great to have different point of view. So why don’t you talk about more enterprise and more of a b2b environment and expectations for product managers.
Iryna M 42:28
In today’s world, when you’re applying to your position of further manager, there are certain expectations from you as a person who is going to serve such a role within the organization that in most of their companies, you would see in that ask that product manager should at least work minimum serve as a subject matter expert about the product to all these departments like sales and marketing and support and content and the research department and so on. And with that you need to interact with all of these departments on some regular basis no matter what. So this is, I would say, the minimal ask that’s, that is out there. In most of the cases, though, it’s not again, to me just limited to the kind of the consultants about the product and service is subject matter expert, but to have a closer interaction with all of these departments. So with that full support team, you usually as a product manager, expect expected to provide a kind of the trainings and demos and any materials that would help them and user materials I mantle we’re here that would help to support team to promote certain feature or share more information with the anti users how that functionality can be used to how to use it, right. And all of this trainings are done. in various formats, but still, this is something that in most cases, you’re going to do, pretty much
Iryna M 44:09
every big release when you’re pushing out there some big functionality to some new, the capability within your product sale, again, at least trainings, full support team when they are talking about marketing, as we already mentioned earlier to the marketing department, and most of the cases is helping you to do the market just George. And with that, it would be really great for product manager to be involved to inter such activities. It’s not on the for the sake of extra help that you’re providing there, but also for the sake of product manager to better understand the market and we start to be able to interact with the end users and with the customers that are available in the market to better understand the market the way just about I understand what what are the pain points that all of these people have. And on that note, which really helps you to prioritize certain capabilities in your product, right, and then probably would help you to do the positioning right as well when you’re talking to your business because position and the external market the gain would be most most probably be done by the markets and department. So again, by involving into any kind of the marketing activities, you have much better understanding of your end users, their their pain points, and their needs, and and nazzer earrin and as a department that most probably are going to be tied with his sales. So for sales, these guys tend to ask you to sit in sales features, it doesn’t mean that product manager should conduct such sales features by himself or herself. In most of the cases, you’re just going to be there to listen to the requests from the potential buyers from the potential clients, and also to provide any kinds of needed assistance to the sales team answering questions that they might not exactly be aware of, especially that is tied to thats related to questions about any kind of strategic plans and overall vision for your product where it’s going to be developed in their new risto longer future. So PR sales, you also might be reviewing any kinds of the materials or at least providing the content for creating such materials because no one accepted the product manager would know better and would phrase it better, how particular capability what trustable what what can be least who’s going to be out They’re the next few months and then how we can market that and how why we Why did we decide to put data in the first place? So for sales department again, you’re helping these guys we send you kinds of the materials and contents of these materials and all sore tangent the sales features. This is there were general ask that you would see out there in the market and all of this is expected from Product Manager, at least to be either old and to sell or at max just Spencer in the capacity, certain percentage from time helping all of these departments and these are the support markets in the sales. They said the guys that all together Together with the product team would form the success of your product. So you do need to make sure that you work as one big team. But back to you.
Vlad G 47:53
Thank you Reena. This is great. This is a without the last question for this Sorry. That’s okay. We still have two more questions. So let’s do one short and one long response. short question. How do you decide whether it’s going to work or not the whole team? Or was it rather God’s feeling as a pm? And I’m gonna ask you, Rena, I’m going to ask myself to take this as in how do you decide at any stage of product development if it’s going to work, but the idea level at the prototype level, a team PvP level and past that? So my take on this is, it’s more of a collective conscious is usually it’s a group decision because you’re never work alone, you know, work in a vacuum. You have a lot of people, a lot of stakeholders, and you have a lot of input from all sides, from co CEO, to marketing to sales to development team, any team at any point in time they come back to you and say, Hey, this is no longer feasible to support your initiative to support That stage of product development that they were in, eventually you may develop a gut feeling. There’s a, if you read internets if you listen to other product managers there is this thing that’s called product managers gut feeling or product manager gut. It is the thing people have get to feel that it’s time to stop or even get to feel that it’s a good idea. But you really need to assess the 360 on the situation really need to understand every stakeholders vision, whether it’s sustainable to continue whether this idea whether this prototype whether this MVP or This product has reached the end of life and it needs to be phased out or needs to be canceled. It almost never in my experience, it has been never just a single person’s endeavor. It was always a collective feeling or collective decision. It was sometimes it was in together with a customer sometimes was within the company. What it was always an input from subject matter experts that Trigger certain decisions. arena if you have anything else, please add.
Iryna M 50:05
Yeah, so this gut feeling you know, this assumption that many people used to use and used to have a when you’re developing them bro that these these good product manager is a data driven Product Manager and the responsibility of the product manager is to collect enough data to me to actually remove this gut feeling to certain point and make certain decision. And they’ll be a scene sale with all the data that you have enhance, no one’s going to question your decision and that would make you unique and the great product manager into the world. So basically you need to be data driven. These guys healing This is something that you definitely will get once your guests and more experience, but that takes years and we say to you never can be wrong. So my advice to you the data driven as much as possible, and of course is going to be completely different data dependent on this teach on device lifecycle stage of your product and wearing you’re just doing present happen when you’re ready to monitoring a program that’s out there. It’s going to be data, different data points that you need to monitor and collect, but try to make it happen and then everyone will realize that there is no good or bad there was just that overseen that you need to do. Blood back to you.
Vlad G 51:37
Thank you. Okay, this is the last question and it probably will be one of the long answers. But let’s, let’s bear with us. What period do you build the roadmap for? It’s a really deep question, because there’s no right answer, at least in my book. Ideally, you build a road map, a road map, not an easy road map. For a period of up to 12 months, and again, in my book, you can only build a detailed roadmap this early in the game. And again, we’re talking about from inception to MVP. And the first first, you know, just just first stages first months of introducing product to the road to the market. You can only have a detailed roadmap for the first three months realistically, you can outline the features and capabilities that you plan to develop. By then each market will have their own say about things and you will need to adjust so doesn’t make sense to plan detailed roadmap further than the next three months. What you can do over the next three months is have a less detailed or so to speak, have broader strokes on the roadmap for about six months, past six months, they probably have very high level capabilities defined. I want my product to be able to do this and that’s as as detailed as you probably would go. Because again, as I said, market will have their say your stakeholders will reassess your situation, a lot of things may change in six months. So it probably doesn’t make sense to spend that much time and effort on detailed planning. Because no plan ever survives. Contact with reality. So it would probably in my book, if it makes sense could be very detailed, first three months, somewhat less detailed in the next three months, and the remaining six months to be very high level very capabilities and high level feature oriented arena, please chime in here because I know that’s a that’s deep topic for you.
Iryna M 53:38
Yeah, so there, there can be a really long, long answer from me on this question today, but I will try to cut it short. So I would say that their timeframe for a roadmap might be really different depending on the level of trust that your guts and you as a prototype is good when you would like to Have a little bit more certainty and when you have your business and your sponsors, making sure that you’re always doing great and you’re doing the right thing, the might be okay with you have an only roadmap for three months where you have more concrete scenes, you have clear priorities, and then you’re revisiting that on for example, monster uses. Realistically b2b world in most of the cases you would see request to have roadmap for 12 months. And why is it 12 months? It’s because we are still, even when we are building products, we’re still kind of tied back to this project mindset. And as we discussed, when we have projects, we have certain funding periods, and usually this hunting period is one year, so it’s 12 months and this is exactly for how long you would need to have your roadmap in order to be evil, at least somehow allocate in calculating budget that you would need for pro And of course, you know it, it’s really hard to predict what to go into be in your product and where you’re going to be working on in six months from now, even from six months from now. So with that these budget allocation and most of the cases is treated rather than just as a backup, it doesn’t mean that you’re committing to certain features that have put on your roadmap. It just gives you some boundaries, outside which it would be hard to go or if you’re going outside of these boundaries, you basically will need to have an extra ask and extra pronunciation with your business and your sponsors. So this is how you would treat that 12 month roadmap and again, this is what is happening in most of the cases and this is the majority of requests that you would have as a product manager in majority of companies. We still face in some cases when project manager sometimes sometimes has been asked for three or five years roadmap And realistically, like probably 1% of product managers have roadmap for such long periods of time. And the reason for such asks is coming from the cases when you are dealing with a potential huge client or when you’re talking to the, to the company who might become a partner, one of the vendors for your product with that, and these guys are usually asking for a longer term roadmap in order to make sure that your strategy and your vision for your product overall on the longer on the longer term is somehow in line with what they have in mind, just to make sure that you know, there are no one can predict in scenes and there are no things that actually completely not within their region and not within their roadmap. And for that you actually been asked to have some some longer term And as I said to mention here is actually the fight that you you, sometimes you need to have different versions of the roadmap, the one that you would expose internally to your delivery team, for example. And these guys will be happy with a shorter term roadmap and more concrete one that is more stable. And with that you can stick to three months roadmap only. You also want you to have a roadmap that can be externally shared, and that will be used by your sales team and potential your marketing. And that can be something, what can create but still not treated as a commitment and Emerson dad to you put him there, he will live to mature that game, it’s more or less stable. So it can be from six to nine to 12 months, in some cases. And then there’s there should be a vision there should be a strategy. There should be a roadmap that you’re sharing with your business owners and your sponsors. Of course, for these guys who kind of would like to show a longer term strategy, because you don’t want to come to these guys and say, here what we’re going to do in the next few months, and then we don’t know, we have no idea, you absolutely would like to convince them that you are in absolute control or dissertation. And we start, you know what you’re going to be doing with least you know, where you’re going to be looking which scene which strategy you’re going to be taken in, in a year from now. So from that perspective, you need to have this internally used roadmap for longer periods of time.
Iryna M 58:36
I saw cases when we were creating roadmaps for three in park years, I would say that the game it’s hard to do, most of us don’t do that. Most of us don’t have such roadmaps. But when such requests come in, be prepared that this is a good way of showing yourself as a strategic thinker, which is actually good, skillful, creditors right back to you.
Vlad G 59:03
Thank you Irina. I just wanted to add a one one note on the topic when you said the longer term roadmaps are used to align with strategic partners. In many cases that I’ve seen longer, longer term roadmaps are used as a bargaining chip, or your customers actually will have a chance to adjust your roadmap your longer term roadmap based on their their priorities or adjust their roadmaps based on your priorities. If you’re one of the strategic partners and your product is adopted as the National enterprise platform for a large enough company, they will have something to say about your priorities and things in your roadmap. At the same time, they will use it to prioritize their internal development efforts. And I’ve seen this happen more than once. Look at the partners roadmap, hey, this capability comes up q2 next year. So by that time, we need to develop something that will use that capability internally. So if you guys Sending by that promise, then we’ll blend certain activities around that. So it’s not just don’t don’t treat this as a you know, as a read only item, don’t treat this as your own thing. There will be cases definitely hundred percent there will be cases, where are the companies will depend on it, you know, college, the companies will try to convince you to change things around or will use it as their own internal guide on how to do things inside their own organizations. And of course, you can always, you know, trade things back and forth, hey, we’re gonna move this things around, but promise us you’re not going to ask us to do this thing, and so on. So that wraps up our episode that wraps up all the questions we had. Thank you very much arena for being here on the podcast.
Iryna M 1:00:47
Thank you for inviting me and having me over.
Vlad G 1:00:50
Always say absolutely a pleasure. And I can promise you, this is not the last time you’re here. Thanks, everybody for listening. If you have any questions, please email them to me at asked a lot at V Grubman calm, that’s dedicated email address that you can send these send the questions for this podcast. And if you have any questions for our speakers in this case is terina. Send an email to this address and I’ll absolutely share all the notes and all the feedback and all the questions with her and hopefully we’ll have her back. Next time to answer those questions. Again, the email is asked LOD at the grubman.com Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure and let’s hope to hear each other again.
Iryna M 1:01:33
And by now
Vlad G 1:01:36
you’ve been listening to the real world product management and I’ve been your host Vlad Grubman. Until the next time