Author Archives: Vivek Vijayan

About Vivek Vijayan

A Technology Product Manager - I derive satisfaction when my product intelligently makes life easier for users.

Customer visits by Product Managers

Product Managers (of enterprise products) must visit customers. However, customer visits for Product Managers are important but not urgent. If you miss a customer meeting, you would not notice anything amiss in the short term, however if you keep missing customer meetings, you will find yourself grappling to catch-up in the long-term. That is the reason you must schedule customer meetings well in advance – block your calendar – so that there is no excuse for you to skip. Continue reading

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How can Product Managers extract value from Data Scientists

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Product Managers are supposed to be metrics driven and are used to extracting and analysing data to understand how the product has been performing – for the customers/users and for the business. This is usually done as an operational exercise on a day to day basis or sometimes to figure out the cause of something unusual happening on the product. This is a typical usage of dash-boarding and business intelligence; perfectly fine if you do not (or cannot) collect data beyond a few key metrics. Continue reading

What do people search about “Product Management”?

Curiosity to find what people search for about product management, led me to dig a bit into what people searched online in the last one year.
I split the the search queries into these categories:

  • Job Search like “product management interview questions”
  • Software tools like “product lifecycle management tools”
  • Skill upgrade like “product management certification”
  • Informational like “what does a product manager do?”

Share of different categories of search queries

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Continue reading

Shadow Product Manager – salvaging out of the situation

There are scores of situations where a Product Manager might find herself/himself getting entangled completely in tactical aspects of product management because the situation demands it or there are simply too much chaos in the organ223670395_7ca0c7a061_zization due to a disorganised way of working. There are also situations when one is with an off-shore development team, “far away” from the customers and key decision makers. It is easy to get completely disoriented and frustrated at the situation. There are ways to salvage out of the “situation” of being a “Shadow Product Manager”: Continue reading

Interview: 3 Questions to Product Manager Rohini

We are back with the monthly interview series. All our past interviews were with veterans of the industry. This time we have an young and emerging thought leader of Product Management – Rohini Venkatraman of So You Want to Manage a Product fame. Here we go:

Product Mantra: In your first stint as a Product Manager, did you discover that there were misconceptions about Product Management? If so, can you elaborate on the biggest misconception.Rohini

Rohini: In my first role as a Product Manager, one of my tasks was to submit an application to the Mac App Store. As part of this process, I was asked to design our sales page. I took my assignment literally and jumped right in to get my hands dirty with Photoshop. After creating a page I thought was beyond awesome, I emailed the page to my manager. His response was not dripping with praise as I expected. Instead it read, “Great. Did this come from our designer? I’d like to push her on color scheme.” Designer?! I asked my computer. What is he talking about?  This is how I learned that, especially at a larger corporation, a product manager does not create visual designs. She also does not write code. Your designer is your design expert. Your engineer is your programming expert. And, you, the product manager, are the expert on whether the design and functionality meet the specific user need at hand.

Product Mantra: What should a Product Manager be cautious about?

Rohini: As the product manager for a small business lending product, my goal was to improve the small business financing process. I spent a lot of time talking to small business owners about their attempts to receive financing. When asked what could be different about the process, many said that they needed the process to be faster — the long process was disruptive to their business. Based on this feedback, my team tested an idea where small businesses could apply and get pre-approved for financing online in minutes. The shocker? Even when they were quickly approved for a loan, businesses didn’t jump at the money. As we started to observe their behaviors and probe further, it became clear that while people said that the process needed to be faster, what they really needed was education around their options and guidance in choosing the best one. Had we built out a product solely based on what people said they needed, we would have ignored the opportunity to build a product that people actually needed. Among other things like looking both ways before crossing the street, a product manager should be cautious about distinguishing between needs and wants of key stakeholders. Not just needs and wants of customers, but also those of engineers, designers, and management. This can be difficult because needs and wants are often conflated. People tend to express wants as needs. It’s up to the product manager to tease the two apart, then prioritize the needs. Needs are the minimum requirements that solve a big problem for customers, that achieve team goals, and that validate the business opportunity. Wants can wait. Without clearly making this distinction, you risk wasting a lot of company time and resources and building something that nobody wants or needs.

Product Mantra: Intuition is very important for a good Product Manager. How do you develop intuition?

Rohini: To me, this question is really asking, “How do (good) product managers always seem to have the right answer?” I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s not intuition. Good product managers are continually doing their research — competitor analyses to understand the market in which their product lives, user research to profoundly understand the customer problem at hand, facilitiating team conversations to understand technical paths and design decisions, organizing cross-functional discussions to understand implications on the business — so that they know everything there is to know about their product and roadmap at any given point. This means that when they need to make a quick decision, they are fully equipped with all the information they need to make the best decision possible given time and resources. When you’ve consumed a lot of data, you can feel pretty confident trusting your gut.

Product Mantra: Thanks Rohini for participating in our interview series and providing your insightful answers.
Rohini has a neat blog where Product Management is one of the many things she writes about. You can also follow her lively tweets.