Product Management Tips - 5 Tricks for Product Managers

By Andy Sio
October 13, 2017

Want to be a great product manager?

The first thing to know is that by signing up for product management, you might have unwittingly signed up to become a professional juggler, as there are a lot of different balls you need to keep in the air. Product managers aren’t just there to give people ideas on what they should sell. Your task will be to move between countless release cycles and product features to make sure that every detail is perfect.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be quite as terrifying as it sounds. Most of the time, discovering how to excel in product management is all about finding the right tools for success, and knowing how to manage yourself, and your team. Here, we’ll look at a few ways you can make sure you don’t drop the ball on product management.

1. Use the Three W’s to Create Value

Since the roles of product managers are constantly changing, it’s up to you as a professional in your industry to make sure you’re flexible enough to respond to an evolving industry. Some of this means knowing how to keep track of your ideas and processes, and figuring out how to make changes when necessary.

To get started, you’ll need to ensure you know how to create value for your users or customers. One of the best ways to do that, is to make sure that every project begins with an understanding of the three “W’s”, that’s:

Product managers are there to define what you’re going to build, when, and why based on the values that you know your customers are looking for. On the other hand, engineers figure how features are going to be built, while designers craft those features, and marketing or sales think about how you’re going to position the value of your new product for your customers.

2. Know How to Manage Your Team

It takes more than a product manager to make a successful product, as we pointed out in the paragraph above. Typically, this will mean being able to interact with a range of different professionals dispersed across your workforce in a quick and efficient manner. While achieving this type of agile working in the past might have been practically impossible, the advent of the internet era, and the delivery of new technology has made it much easier to keep track of distributed teams on the road to product development.

With a product like Strategic Quadrant, you can build all the aspects of your business catalog in a single place, keeping ideas, processes, and concepts under control in a single area. The more you can see what everyone in your industry is doing to promote the success of a product, the more you can decide which elements need to be adapted and improved for success.

3. Give Your Product a Story

One of the best product management tips you’ll learn today, is that if you want to excel in this customer-focused, relationship-driven marketplace, then you need to know how to really bring your product to life. Think about how you can give your product a story as you’re developing it. This means stepping back for a moment, and getting to know the item or service that you’re developing. The following questions could help you craft a story that makes your product more compelling in the eyes of your customers:

Answering these questions should help you to create a blueprint that links back to the main reason that you’re creating your product in the first place. Remember, though you need to communicate this story to the rest of your team, you can also work with them to evolve and change the story when necessary.

Product management - mapping out customers journeys

4. Know Your Market and Competitors

Above all else, if you want to produce a fantastic product, then you need to understand your customers, and what they’re hoping to get from your marketplace or industry. However, there’s more to successful product management than building a buyer persona. While user personas can help you to understand your customer base a little better, you’ll also need to do some in-depth research into your niche, and figure out what else is going on around you.

Remember, competitor analysis can give you an insight into what else is working for other contributors in your space. Ideally, you should use your evaluation of competing companies to inspire your own product management efforts, but don’t allow yourself to simply copy and paste their processes. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another, so make sure that you keep your processes personal to you!

5. Make the Most of Frameworks

Although it can be exciting to try and design and implement a product “off the cuff”, it’s important to remember that the best success often comes from a solid strategy. While product roadmaps and business models can make you feel overwhelmed, remember that a good strategy can do a lot to support your creativity on the road to success.

Frameworks are a great way to show your teams what they need to do to logically break things down into bite-size chunks. There are many great frameworks out there for product managers to choose from, including SWOT analysis, Design thinking, Minimum viable product, and the waterfall model for development.

Use SWOT Analysis Template

It may take a little testing before you find the solution that works best for you, but don’t be afraid to experiment and see where your frameworks take you!

Remember to Pay Attention to the Results

Although the five golden rules for product managers above will help you to streamline your path to success in product development, remember that you’re going to have to remain open to change if you want to get the best results out of your products. Watch your performance indicators, and remember that they’re going to tell you an important story about what’s going on in your industry.

Although different organizations develop different KPIs (key performance indicators), it’s important to focus on things that will help you to actively improve your product plan, or generate a better result.

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