Ten Tips For New
Product Managers
Waseem Safdar
Waseem Safdar 2
Four types of “new” Product Managers
Waseem Safdar 3
Your relationship to the organization
New Tenured
New
New product,
ne...
Ten Tips
1. Spend time with customers
2. Ask “dumb” questions
3. Let go of your past
4. Surround yourself with experts
5. ...
Spend time with customers
 The single most
important thing a
product manager can
do is to understand
the market
 The bes...
Spend time with customers: To Do
Spend more time with customers
than with colleagues
Set goals for customer visits
Esta...
Ask “dumb” questions
 “Dumb” questions are really
more about when they get
asked than about what you
are asking
 New pro...
Ask “dumb” questions: To Do
 Develop a list of initial questions
 Generate additional questions each time
one is answere...
Let go of your past
 What were you in your “past” life? Whatever it was,
you’re a product manager now
 There is a natura...
Let go of your past: To Do
Audit the time you are spending on each
area
of the product
Have an open conversation with co...
Surround yourself with experts
Product managers can not and should not
do it all alone
Your success depends on others
D...
Surround yourself with experts: To
Do
Identify areas important to product’s
success
Identify internal experts in targete...
Gather data
 “In a truly consumer-driven company,
decisions are based on data… so the
person with the best data wins.” – ...
Gather data: To Do
 Gather existing market research and industry
data – primary and secondary
 Identify information gaps...
Ten Tips
1. Spend time with customers
2. Ask “dumb” questions
3. Let go of your past
4. Surround yourself with experts
5. ...
Focus
It will be overwhelming
You will not know where
to start
It is better to do one
thing well than to do a
lot of th...
Focus: To Do
 Make a list of all of the “internal” and “external”
priorities
 Determine timelines, relative levels of ef...
Concentrate on what, not how
It will be tempting to control “how” things
get done with your product
Resist the temptatio...
Concentrate on what, not how: To Do
Clarify roles and responsibilities with team
members
 Engineering
 Design
 Marketi...
Communicate, communicate…
Do not underestimate
the importance of
communication in all
forms
◦ Informal, formal, written,
...
Communication
Waseem Safdar 21
Source: Seven Traits of Successful Product Managers; Michael Shrivathsan
michael.hightechpr...
Communication
Manager
Engineering
Marketing
Sales
Product
Manager
Waseem Safdar 22
Communication
Waseem Safdar 23
Product
Manager
Sales
Marketing
Customer
Service
Finance
Legal
Other PMs
Engineering Design...
Communication
Waseem Safdar 24
Product
Manager
Sales
Marketing
Customer
Service
Finance
Legal
Other PMs
Engineering Design...
Communicate, communicate: To Do
 Audit current communications (if any)
 Get feedback from stakeholders on preferred
comm...
Sell your product internally
Be the champion for your product
“Sell” your product to executives, team
members, other dep...
Sell your product internally: To Do
 Regularly communicate good news
◦ Don’t go overboard
◦ Don’t ignore or try to dismis...
Do whatever it takes
“Be willing to do whatever it takes.
…
I know of many cases where the
product manager needed to help
...
Do whatever it takes: To Do
 Learn about as many areas of your product
as possible
◦ The more you know, the more you can ...
Bonus tip #11
Learn from other product managers
There are plenty of great (and often
free!) resources available
Books, ...
Thank You
Waseem Safdar 31
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Ten tips for new product managers

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  • Ten tips for new product managers

    1. 1. Ten Tips For New Product Managers Waseem Safdar
    2. 2. Waseem Safdar 2
    3. 3. Four types of “new” Product Managers Waseem Safdar 3 Your relationship to the organization New Tenured New New product, new organization New product, same organization Existing Existing product, new organization Existing product, same organization Typeofproduct
    4. 4. Ten Tips 1. Spend time with customers 2. Ask “dumb” questions 3. Let go of your past 4. Surround yourself with experts 5. Gather data 6. Focus 7. Concentrate on what, not how 8. Communicate, communicate, communicate 9. Sell your product internally 10. Do whatever it takes Waseem Safdar 4
    5. 5. Spend time with customers  The single most important thing a product manager can do is to understand the market  The best way to understand the market is to spend time with customers Waseem Safdar 5
    6. 6. Spend time with customers: To Do Spend more time with customers than with colleagues Set goals for customer visits Establish a regular schedule for customer interactions Bring colleagues along with you Bring back information to share Waseem Safdar 6
    7. 7. Ask “dumb” questions  “Dumb” questions are really more about when they get asked than about what you are asking  New product managers have the luxury of asking naïve questions  Ask as many questions as possible as soon as possible  Who to ask? Customers, colleagues, stakeholders, superiors, partners, competitors… Waseem Safdar 7
    8. 8. Ask “dumb” questions: To Do  Develop a list of initial questions  Generate additional questions each time one is answered  Make note of interesting answers for future reference  Ask the same question to different people and compare answers Waseem Safdar 8
    9. 9. Let go of your past  What were you in your “past” life? Whatever it was, you’re a product manager now  There is a natural instinct for product managers to gravitate towards the function of the business from which they came – resist it Waseem Safdar 9
    10. 10. Let go of your past: To Do Audit the time you are spending on each area of the product Have an open conversation with colleagues in your former role - Discuss experiences and establish boundaries Think hard before overruling decisions Review regularly to discuss progress Waseem Safdar 10
    11. 11. Surround yourself with experts Product managers can not and should not do it all alone Your success depends on others Do not try to be an expert in everything Leverage the expertise of others in certain areas Look for “formal” and “informal” advisors Experts do not just have to be within your organization Waseem Safdar 11
    12. 12. Surround yourself with experts: To Do Identify areas important to product’s success Identify internal experts in targeted areas Enlist experts as Trusted Advisors Utilize advisors for decision-making, planning, support and overcoming obstacles Waseem Safdar 12
    13. 13. Gather data  “In a truly consumer-driven company, decisions are based on data… so the person with the best data wins.” – Scott Cook; Founder, Intuit  Lots of different types of data… ◦ Internal data ◦ External data ◦ Market data ◦ Product data Waseem Safdar 13
    14. 14. Gather data: To Do  Gather existing market research and industry data – primary and secondary  Identify information gaps and develop plans to fill them  Gather existing product performance data  Identify missing and desired information and leverage colleagues to obtain ◦ If desired data is not available, quantify the value of it in order to obtain support for projects to gather it Waseem Safdar 14
    15. 15. Ten Tips 1. Spend time with customers 2. Ask “dumb” questions 3. Let go of your past 4. Surround yourself with experts 5. Gather data 6. Focus 7. Concentrate on what, not how 8. Communicate, communicate, communicate 9. Sell your product internally 10. Do whatever it takes Waseem Safdar 15
    16. 16. Focus It will be overwhelming You will not know where to start It is better to do one thing well than to do a lot of things poorly Waseem Safdar 16
    17. 17. Focus: To Do  Make a list of all of the “internal” and “external” priorities  Determine timelines, relative levels of effort, and resources required  Pick a few quick wins and focus initial effort  During that time, develop longer-term focus  Get agreement on focus, communicate, and reiterate it Waseem Safdar 17
    18. 18. Concentrate on what, not how It will be tempting to control “how” things get done with your product Resist the temptation Product managers should define “what” needs to happen… … and others should define “how” those things happen Waseem Safdar 18
    19. 19. Concentrate on what, not how: To Do Clarify roles and responsibilities with team members  Engineering  Design  Marketing Get regular feedback on whether you and others are keeping with the agreed-upon responsibilities Waseem Safdar 19
    20. 20. Communicate, communicate… Do not underestimate the importance of communication in all forms ◦ Informal, formal, written, verbal, unspoken, method, timeliness, frequency, tone Waseem Safdar 20
    21. 21. Communication Waseem Safdar 21 Source: Seven Traits of Successful Product Managers; Michael Shrivathsan michael.hightechproductmanagement.com/2006/12/seven_traits_of_successful_pro.html
    22. 22. Communication Manager Engineering Marketing Sales Product Manager Waseem Safdar 22
    23. 23. Communication Waseem Safdar 23 Product Manager Sales Marketing Customer Service Finance Legal Other PMs Engineering Design Project Management ManagerExecutives
    24. 24. Communication Waseem Safdar 24 Product Manager Sales Marketing Customer Service Finance Legal Other PMs Engineering Design Project Management ManagerExecutives Customers Investors Industry Analysts Partners
    25. 25. Communicate, communicate: To Do  Audit current communications (if any)  Get feedback from stakeholders on preferred communications channels and frequency  Develop communications plan; type and frequency ◦ Email newsletter ◦ Intranet site ◦ “State of the Product” presentations  Set reminders about communications and stick to schedule! Waseem Safdar 25
    26. 26. Sell your product internally Be the champion for your product “Sell” your product to executives, team members, other departments Will help gain resources, funding, support for issues and new initiatives Waseem Safdar 26
    27. 27. Sell your product internally: To Do  Regularly communicate good news ◦ Don’t go overboard ◦ Don’t ignore or try to dismiss bad news  Make sure your communication plans include all the necessary audiences  Get others to help sell your product ◦ Explicit “enlistment” ◦ Find good supporters and keep them happy Waseem Safdar 27
    28. 28. Do whatever it takes “Be willing to do whatever it takes. … I know of many cases where the product manager needed to help out with deliverables for customer support, sales training, technical writing, QA, engineering, and marketing. You may need to just do it.” Waseem Safdar 28
    29. 29. Do whatever it takes: To Do  Learn about as many areas of your product as possible ◦ The more you know, the more you can help  Help out at the right time ◦ Don’t start too early, but don’t wait too long  Don’t complain about having to help out ◦ But make sure to discuss it later if there are skill or resource issues that need to be addressed Waseem Safdar 29
    30. 30. Bonus tip #11 Learn from other product managers There are plenty of great (and often free!) resources available Books, blogs, newsletters, webinars, conferences, training, professional associations, local groups, mailing lists, social networking sites… Waseem Safdar 30
    31. 31. Thank You Waseem Safdar 31

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