Without wasting any word here are my top 5 tips for successful product management–
Understand the Vision, become one with it
How will it help – Ask any product manager how many feature request he or she receives on a weekly basis. If you find that any feature request is not in alignment with the vision you can easily deprioritize it. Having the vision in your DNA will also help you in coming up with ideas and solutions to problems which the market may not have encountered.
Spend at least 30% of your time talking to customers
How will it help– No product is any good if it has no takers. Your customers can be your best critic. Many a times you as a product manager may overlook the uselessness of some existing feature or the need of an essential feature, which a customer can tell you about. I always feel the need of Product Managers interacting directly with customers rather than going through sales or account teams. Many a times the sales people come with an immediate problem as well as an immediate suggested solution, completely missing valuable information pointing towards probably larger problems that the customer might face in the near future. Your solution might be impacted if beforehand knowledge about the problem in greater detail is there.
Create a shared understanding with the Development Teams
How will it help– Imagine someone tells you to go in the forest and get him a piece of wood measuring 4”x 5”. What would you do? You will get the first piece of wood meeting the specifications. Now imagine the same person tell you to go in the forest and get him a piece of wood –preferably mahogany or teak which will be used to sculpt out a figure of an Egyptian Goddess and will be shipped to the Egyptian Museum as a collection in the International Section. What would be your reaction? You would go in the forest and try to find out the best piece of wood available. This is the power and magic of shared understanding. When all stakeholders know what is being done , why it is being done and what are the future implications and value offered the results are awesome.
Create a balanced backlog
How will it help – Always remember that as a product manager you are responsible for the ultimate success or failure of the product. To achieve success the product must address the business problems, should be high in quality and should have the least time to market. To do all these the product backlog must have stories to address the following-
(a) Feature Requests
(b) Technical Debt / Defect removal
(c) Architectural bedwork to address the future needs
Don’t keep singing the MVP Song
How will it help– In the recent times a lot has been written about MVPs and how beneficial they are. But with experience I have learned that MVPs are good only when your product is in a new market without any competition , offering unique services . Whenever people have the option to choose from a multitude of products your MVP will probably not work. In that case you need to launch products which will stand out from the competition’s offering. So don’t be too obsessed with MVPs but do a thorough competition analysis and an analysis of the problems your product is trying to solve . If you think that your release is solving some critical problems and users have no alternatives only then go with MVP releases, else releasing MVPs all the time will do more harm to your brand than good.
What would be your top 5 tips for successful product management?