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20 Things I’ve Learned About Product Management In The Last 2 years

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Time flies. I remember as if it was yesterday when I started my adventure in the digital product management world. More than two years have passed now, and my journey so far has been exciting, challenging, painful, energizing, and sometimes embarrassing. I have experience with diverse scenarios, from startups to massive corporations, from Malaysia and the Philippines to Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Also, I’ve been in different domains, EdTech, SaaS FoodTech, E-commerce, and Cloud Computing, among others. In short, I’ve collected many stories to share and I’m still gathering more. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on my journey, and I was able to develop multiple vital lessons I learned during my past years as a product manager. In this post, I am sharing 20 bite-sized lessons that I have learned over time — I hope they can help make you a better product manager, too.

Product Vision & Strategy

  • Don’t base everything on your assumptions. Show — with data (Qualitative and Quantitative), stories, and examples.

  • When your product vision is a tangible, visualizable end state instead of something abstract, your product team can internalize it and make it their own dream.

  • If every opportunity in the market fits your vision, your vision is too broad and you need to add more details to it.

  • Block out time each day to think and reflect on the strategy of your product.

Product Discovery & Design

  • Block out time each day to interact with your customers. Each week you will end up with a bunch of new information (inc, users’ new problems, feedback, expectations) that will influence your product positively.

  • Create a user and market research backlog. The backlog will contain different research tasks using different research methods (e.g., interviews, surveys, field studies, Eye tracking studies). Aim to execute at least one research task each week and get valuable insights out of it.

  • Have a weekly UX analysis and critique meeting with your team. The call will help you uncover areas of improvement and further investigation and research.

  • It is not enough to know who your users are. Good PMs must understand everything about the users of their products: when, where, and how they are using your product. It’s essential to stay connected to your users’ context and keep updating your understanding of their world.

  • Users are not automatons — they’re human beings, leading busy lives. Finding little ways to bring a moment of unexpected joy or happiness makes the product experience that much richer. Always aim to delight your users.

Product Execution And Analytics

  • Be available to discuss any issues and concerns regarding your user stories with the engineers and the testers. Your availability will definitely expedite the execution process.

  • Support your user stories with diagrams like user flow, context diagram, use case diagram, and activity diagram. Such diagrams will help your engineers understand the scope faster and minimise the number of 15-minutes meetings during the sprint.

  • Account for testing in your roadmap and in your timelines.

  • By the end of each day, take a glimpse at the product analytics dashboard. Concentrate more on funnels and conversions data.

Product Marketing & Growth

  • Retaining old users will positively move some business KPIs more than acquiring new ones. Of course, the acquisition is important. But retention is likely to be more profitable than acquisition because existing customers are much easier to sell to. Also, it costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

  • When you write and scope a PRD for an epic, talk with the product marketing manager. The PMM will help you visualise the key message and position of the new feature. This will also help the PMM and the marketing team make some early plans.

  • Continuously review and refine your onboarding flow with your team until you find a way for your customer to reach the “Aha!” moment in very little time.

  • Communicate the positives and value of your product to customers as soon as possible (as early in their journey as possible) because initial positive responses can contribute to the conversion.

Stakeholder Management

  • When a stakeholder reaches out with a feature request or a new idea, always challenge them by asking why 5 times. This will help you and them rethink if the request is something that might help your customers solve one of their problems or not. This will also give you early insights that will help you in your validation process.

  • Dedicate a weekly time to spend in the support queue, jump on customer success calls, and try to close some deals with the business developers.

  • Speak their language by tailoring your approach based on what matters to them the most. Speak a different language to every stakeholder group you meet. For example, with executives, you have to keep things high-level, short, and packed with data. With Designers, you would want to explain the user context and journey. With engineers, you would need to go into details and even show off your technical know-how.

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