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How to manage your first days as a Product Manager

Par Jérémy le 29/06/2022 dans Articles

Expertise

8 minutes

The Product Manager is the heart of the product development process and therefore responsible for presenting the product vision to their team and all stakeholders; much like an orchestra conductor. Consequently, their tasks and interlocutors will be very varied and also depend on the context of their mission.

How to manage your first days with the team?

Before being completely operational in the role of Product Manager, it is necessary to spend some time to understand the challenges of the mission and to be able to make a difference:

Tip 1: Plan individual meetings with team members and identified stakeholders. Indeed, they provide a lot of information, whether it be on the objectives of the mission, the difficulties encountered or the context of the organization.

Tip 2: Think particularly about meeting the Lead Developer. That way, you’ll be able to collect a lot of information on the technical stack, the anteriority of the project or the technical environment, …

Tip 3: Ask users to explain what features they use and what problems they encounter. In addition, the customer support team can provide the Product Manager with field feedback in order to properly identify its users.

Tip 4: Study as much internal documentation as possible. For example, it could be roadmaps, releases, existing User Stories, business results, various internal presentations, etc.

Tip 5: Take note of the existing metrics of the product to be able to identify those that you’ll want to follow.

Tip 6: Meet the decision-makers who will give him their expectations with regard to their position but also the objectives and the issues to be taken into account.

How to carry out your daily mission well ?

As a Product Manager, your daily tasks will be varied. However, there are points on which the Product Manager must be particularly attentive to make a difference.

The Backlog

The Backlog is intended to collect all the customer’s needs in the form of functionalities involved in the constitution of a product, as well as all the elements requiring the intervention of the team.

It is essential to prioritize the backlog according to the priorities of the stakeholders. To help with the decision, it is possible to use the MoSCow technique, the Kano analysis or even the test at 10.

Finally, it is essential to always keep an eye on the backlog to be clear on the dependencies between User Stories or to measure the progress of Sprints / Releases.

The team

It is advisable to hold a first kick-off meeting which allows everyone to meet and understand the vision and objectives of the project.

Furthermore, it is important to create a roadmap so the team and stakeholders know the big picture and keep an eye on the vision.

However, the Product Manager remains the sole person responsible for making the decision on how to enrich the product.

Ceremonies

It is particularly important to be careful not to underestimate the Sprints Reviews since these make it possible to enrich the product. Indeed, it is the moment during which the Product Manager obtains the reactions of the stakeholders and can thus discuss the product development.

The bonus point is learning to say “NO” often.

The Product Manager: an orchestra conductor

Work with developers and technical teams

As a Product Manager, it is not necessary to know how to code but rather to understand how the most common technologies and environments work.

This allows you to:

  1. Know what can realistically be built
  2. Establish a relationship of trust with developers
  3. Understand the impact of decisions made on the roadmap
  4. Build better quality User Stories

But then what are the most common technologies and environments?

Before arriving on the mission, the Product Manager must be familiar with certain terms in order to be able to exchange with the technical teams and be legitimate in front of them.

Differentiate the Front-End from the Back-End

The Front-end corresponds to what the user sees and to the elements with which they will interact. So, talk about HTML for structure and content, CSS for styling, and JavaScript for interactivity.

The back-end corresponds to the raw information, the servers or the databases used to make the product work. Thus, we are talking about MySQL for databases or Amazon S3 for infrastructure as a service, for example.

Front, Back and Mobile languages

For Front languages, we often hear about HTML, CSS or Javascript for example. In Back, it will be PHP, Java, .NET and finally in mobile, Swift for iOS or Java for Android.

Beyond the technical components, what behavior should I adopt?

Don’t underestimate the power of communication.

Communicating with developers is key to helping them do a good job. Good communication allows a better understanding of the needs, and affects the delivery of quality code and therefore a quality product.

Thus, it is essential for the Product Manager to ensure that the journeys and wireframes are well understood by the team but also to include them in the planning process so that they understand the why of the functionalities and the expected requirements.

The Product Manager must also ensure that the product vision is fully integrated by the development teams. The more the latter is integrated, the more coherence there will be in terms of development.

Developer time is in short supply.

When refining the backlog, the Product Manager should always allow 20% points per Stories for bug fixes so that this will allow the necessary time for their developers to avoid technical debt.

Even if communication and exchange are important, the Product Manager must take care not to involve their team of developers when this does not bring real added value. You can position yourself instead as the entry point for external requests and filter the information that can then be shared with developers.

The autonomy of the team is important to maintain.

The development team greatly appreciates that the Product Manager gives them autonomy in the way they develop User Stories (animations, calls in the base, UI, etc.).

The Product Manager must also address the problems and questions of developers and above all listen to the solutions and compromises they propose.

Data, data and more data.

Control and decision-making through data is essential. Thus, the Product Manager must make the necessary decisions based on data (customers, market, features, competition, etc.).

Working with Designers

First, even if it is not specified in the theory, Designers must be integrated into the Product Management team. This is why you must present the objectives, the path, the functionalities and the metrics involved in the project.

Design is essential to improve the understanding of its User Stories by the developers but also to carry out user tests upstream of the code in order to identify the level of functionality required to launch.

What Design skills should the Product Manager master?

In order to be more comfortable with Designers, you will have to understand and master certain aspects of the Designer profession.

  • Skills related to the research of the customer need, in other words the analysis and the customer empathy.

In this sense, the Product Manager must be able to interview, research customers, synthesize data and gather information from these conversations. This implies in particular the mastery of field research tools, usability and personality tests, notions of user journeys and storyboard tools.

  • Knowledge of UX/UI best practices and trends (e.g. search, login, settings, etc.). This translates through wireframes, models, user journeys, empathy maps, CSS animations, bootstrap grids, …
  • Analysis of designs from different universes and thus provide critical feedback. This allows you to acquire a knowledge base on the must-haves of the market.
  • Rapid evaluation of the cost of the solutions proposed by the Designers in order to make the link with the technique.

How does the business part fit into all of this?

As Product Manager, you’ll find yourself at the center of 3 circles of actors: Design, Tech and Business.

The latter is often neglected by Product Managers who spend a lot of time on Tech but forget to consider the business potential of their product.

With the decision-makers, the Product Manager must remain brief and concise in their way of communicating, favoring direct exchanges at meetings to have a better impact.

As for the speech, the Product Manager must direct the exchanges according to the business impacts and keep them regularly updated on the progress of the development of the product.

We must not neglect to exchange with them in order to better understand the strategic issues of the product and to be able to determine what will be the next evolutions of the latter.

A little about meetings

It is essential to organize meetings well; they can take up too much time if poorly prepared or run.

Following a meeting, ensure that the actions put in place are followed up. For this, send an email summarizing the various points covered and actions to be taken.

If the Product Manager is working remotely via teleconference, they must make sure to have the right intonation, to deliver a clear message and to provide the links and/or resources in parallel in order to support their needs.

  1. Communication, communication: it may seem obvious but it is still the point that allows the Product Manager to best manage their mission.
  2. A single team but different behaviors: the developers or designers are an integral part of the team, but the Product Manager must know how to adapt so that the mission goes as well as possible.
  3. The Product Manager is the central link but does not carry all the weight on their shoulders: the team and the stakeholders are there to support them in the development of the product.

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Jérémy

Product Leader