KB Seminars: Working with Technology - Product Management; 10/13
Process, Roles & Responsibilities
“Delivering the Goods”
9 – 10 October 2013
Today’s discussion is designed to give an overview of product
management and answer some key questions.
Where does product management fit in the overall business?
What role does marketing play in product management?
What role does metrics and analysis play in product management?
What guidelines or steps can you follow for product development?
How do you maintain and continue to develop a product?
What is “product management”? Product management translates
between the needs of the user and the capabilities of technology.
• Content Management
• Advertising Serving
• Social Media Systems
• Other Systems
From a business standpoint, Product Management fits between the
“vision” (Strategy/Marketing) and the “execution” (Technology).
• Define the
- Size; Needs
- Revenue model
• Business Plan
• Priorities for
• Metric models of
• User interface
• Page types
• Code development
• Database design
• Company ambitions
• Company goals
• “What business are
• Priority setting
- What to do AND
- What not to do
Strategic Plan Business Plans
Product Management starts with Marketing answering key questions
to lay the business foundations for the product.
1. Define the User: Who is the audience? Who will the product serve?
- Young people
- People who drive motor scooters
- Music lovers
2. What problem are you solving for them?
- How will you create value for the customer?
- How will they know it is a great product?
- What will get the audience to use the product again?
The next step is often to look for other products with the same goals.
3. What other companies are targeting your user? What can we learn from
- Are they successful? Growing?
- Why are they successful? What do they do well?
- Where are they un-successful? Why?
- What can we learn from them? Pricing? Packaging?
- Very rarely are there completely new problems to solve or products to solve them
- Most new products are really new solutions to old problems
- Applying new insight about the customer
- Applying new technology
So, you can always learn from others in the market!
The next step identifies a plan for how to use your company’s
strengths to develop a better solution to the customer’s needs.
4. What are the unique strengths of my company?
- Brand awareness?
- Large pool of active traffic?
- Strong advertiser support?
- Technology platform?
- Ability to offer existing products at a cheaper price
5. How do I apply these to the customer’s needs?
- Unique marketing solution? Build traffic and trial cheaper or faster?
- Unique benefits to offer from advertisers?
Marketing produces a business plan to guide product management
The key components of a Business Plan include:
• Definition of who the user is?
• Definition of the users’ key needs
• A description of how to meet these needs
- These often set-up the initial use cases that drive product development
• Definition of revenue model and pricing
• Guidelines for online distribution and source of traffic and trial
• Description of success metrics for each use case
- Example: Low percentage of abandoned searches, total reviews written, …
The Business Plan then goes to Product Management for the detailed work of
developing and maintaining the product.
For each of the users, product management will develop “use cases”
to build product specifications, the guidebook for technology.
A use case will include:
• Who the use case is for – the user
• What actions they will take during a particular visit and on a particular page
- Actions are prioritized based on what the product needs for success.
• For each user, where will the user come from or how will they be “acquired”
- Direct Login
- Referral from other users (Social Networks, email, links in other sites, …)
- Search Engines
- Marketing (advertising, events, promotions, …)
• For each user, what the ideal next action is after the use case is complete.
For a media product, use cases usually involve at least three user groups.
• Internal users
- Editorial (CMS)
- Sales and marketing
Use case development is a detailed and ideally creative process defined
by a combination of brainstorming and creative “copying”.
For each use case a series of functions are defined to complete the
action defined in the use case.
Online Classified Site – Example
User: Regular Website User
General Use Case: Finding an auto for sale
• Case 1 = On-site Search
• Case 2 = Category Browsing
• Case 3 = Social Recommendation
Use Case 1 = On-site Search
• Search – what type of search experience
- Category specific search
- Key search categories (make/model, year, location, …)
• Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
- Listings order – closest to me, most relevant listing, most recommended?
- Sortable against different criteria,
- Listings details on SERP
• Success Metrics
- Percentage of “null” returns
These functions are then organized into systems.
Display = features that are externally facing displayed to the consumer and
Administration = features that are controlled internally by consumers
Metrics = features that provide information about product performance
Commerce = features that allow the user to purchase services or goods on the site
Security = features that preserve the online security of a user.
Different types of website will define different systems of features depending
on the business goals of the site. But there are generally two types of systems:
Front-end Systems = systems that face the end-user
Back-end Systems = systems that face internal users.
For display or front-end systems – the ones the consumer sees – the
features are organized into a series of page types.
Search Return Pages
• Pages that point to other
• Pages that have limited
• Pages designed to
• Home Pages
• Section fronts
• About us pages
• SEO pages
• Pages that contain content
• Pages that contain tools to
use the content
• Pages that access the
• Content Pages
• Video Player Pages
• Photo Gallery Pages
• Tools Pages
- Email this
- Print this
• Pages that access the
• Search tool pages
• Internal search engine
• Archive Search Pages
• Search engine return pages
With the page types determined, then pages are built out of
generally four layers.
• Google Analytics
• A/B testing
• Advertising metrics
• Internal metrics
• Read Story
• Comment on story
• See advertising
• View photos
Almost any page will include all four aspects of the page.
With use cases, systems and page types defined, product
management will create “Product Specifications” to guide the work
Product Specification Features
No two product specifications will be exactly alike – some will be 20 pages and some
will be 200 pages.
The time invested in defining specifications should be proportional to the size of the
business opportunity defined in the Business Plan.
Graphics are good – almost required.
- Hand drawn graphics are good
- References to similar sites are good.
Be specific about what you like and what you do not.
Use Cases need to be as specific as possible.
Prioritize features and discuss different solutions with Technology.
A typical Product Specification document has the following outline.
Product Specification Outline
1. Purpose of the document
2. Description of the product’s goals
3. Version control – who edited the specification last
4. Display System Features – Front-end Functionality
- Common features (navigation)
- Site map = list of pages types; their relations to each other.
- Visual Requirements including principal pages, navigation/design guidelines
5. Administration System Features – Back-end Functionality
- Site management
- SEO management
- Content creation
6. Use cases
Product specifications are then reviewed with the technology
Overall feasibility and system/software recommendations
Understanding of specification feature details
Prioritization of features
Impact of specifications on web hosting
After general agreement, technology will begin to build the product.
When the product is “finished” but before it is launched, a period of
Quality Assurance Testing – Technology – includes:
• Server performance
• Database performance
• Test of all hyperlinks to identify and remedy “broken links”
- Yandex Webmaster and Google Webmaster both provide broken link reports
- Free link checking services also exist = http://validator.w3.org/checklink
• Capacity testing for other key supporting platforms
- e-Commerce …
User Testing – Product
• Series of internal and external groups are asked to test the product
• User testing can be informal, but all asked to perform a series of pre-determined
tests and report the findings
• General navigation test to performed
• Parties responsible for structural pages may be asked to test their own pages
• Bug list is generated and prioritized to make improvements prior to launch
For user testing, users are asked to perform a set of specific actions
and then report issues often called “bugs”.
Typical Bug Tracking Tool
1. Bug Title/Name
2. Description of the Problem
3. Steps to create (optional)
4. Screenshot (optional)
5. Nature of the Bug:
6. Bug Status
8. Browser Used
After a product is launched, product management must maintain the
product to deliver on the business goals.
Product Management must manage website changes at three levels.
- Example: Adding e-commerce
- Requires business and marketing plan
- Requires new product specifications
- Integration into existing product comprehensive
- Example: Creating new ad zones on the site
- Business/marketing plans optional
- Often impacts design and usability
- Built using the analysis of metrics
- Example: Correct size of font to be more readable.
Product management must determine the relative priority for each
Development Priorities are needed to:
- Maximize the investment in technology (both internal and external)
- Avoid unnecessary changes to the site
Priorities have to incorporate the following inputs:
- Revenue created
- Audience growth
- Costs savings
- Competitive response
After features have been prioritized, technology can allocate
resources appropriately to deliver on the most important items
In summary, product management has a variety of inter-related
1. User – Focused, No Surprises!
- Designed from 360º; all external and internal users considered
- Operations evaluated and included in the product plan
+ Daily volume
+ Timing patterns (peaks, day-parts)
2. Efficient Operations
- Site performs as expected for key user behaviors
- Metrics plan helps to continually improve the site
3. Ongoing Maintenance and Optimization
- Product continually improves, audience satisfaction continually improves
- Audience returns and becomes focal point for word of mouth marketing.