Category Archives: Product roadmap

Maintain Backlog Quality, #pmantra

You are a real good product manager who loves to listen to people and likes to hear ideas from all the corners of the office. You note down everything, dump them on the backlog and then pull your hair when the product backlog grows exponentially. Aha! what the heck! what happens to my customer meetings, review meetings, competition study, etc.

It is worth mentioning here that, just as, all that glitters is not gold, all ideas cannot be sold. It is the role of a product manager to assess which idea is worth selling and which goes to the trash bin. Product managers should maintain the quality of product backlog by exercising all  due diligence to avoid non-relevant requirements from entering into the backlog. Continue reading

The Chicken or the Egg?

I have been in this situation several times. If you work in product management, I am sure you have found yourself struggling to answer this – What comes first the Product or the Client? Let me elaborate – you have an innovative idea to create a new product or may be just to enhance the current offerings. Being a smart product manager (that you are) you have got a business case with cost-benefit analysis approved by key stakeholders. However, now you face the big dilemma where the technology resources who will be buidling your product are not available. And they won’t be available for next 3 months as they are working on other “high priority” projects that can be capitalized to bring in revenue. What do you do then? Do you put your awesome plan on hold or do you try to capitalize this product so that you can then secure resources for this product? Scary, right? Well, there is no right or wrong answer and hence the analogy!

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Inspect and Adapt for Agile Product Managers

As organizations make their movement from Waterfall to Agile software development, a shift in culture takes place. One discipline that is most affected in this whole change is Product Management. They have to cope up with the demand for more releases within the same time and each release has to have meaningful content.

I have tried to list the traits needed for a successful Agile Product Manager here. Continue reading

Case study: When you want to expand the target segment of your product

Sunita had just returned back from the product camp in the weekend with some fresh ideas and that got her thinking about what had happened to her product in the last quarter. Sunita was the new Product Manager of her company’s flagship product which faced plateauing revenues – a mid-life crisis for the product, which seems to be quite natural for all products. Challenged with the task of improving the same, she found that the product was once a roaring success (rather it still is) and had crossed many chasms successfully. The product completely concentrated on the small and medium business (SMB) segment of the market. After brainstorming with Steven, the Product Marketing manager and with Molly, the VP of Sales – there was enough market research data that indicated that there was a need for a similar product in the large enterprises. Sunita had taken the strategically important decision of retrofitting the existing product with features required for the large enterprises; this she thought was cost effective – as the expansion of the product line can happen with almost the same product as base.

Three months into the whole exercise – she started getting strange vibes from the market. Continue reading

Not now, not ever

Circa 1996. Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted in 1996 by the United Nations to ban all nuclear tests for civil or military purposes.  India declined to endorse any regimen that permitted some countries to retain nuclear weaponry while limiting the ability of other countries to develop similar capabilities of their own. Arundhati Ghose, a senior career diplomat of India was deputed to head the Indian delegation at the CTBT conference in Geneva. Ms.Ghose was under extreme pressure to do the tight rope walk. The long-term objectives of her country would be compromised if she accedes to sign, where as in the short-term, some countries might grant development loans or back India in something else. In the conference, India declined to sign the treaty, with Ms.Ghose famously saying “not now, not ever”. India, hitherto not known for taking strong foreign affairs decisions, had a celebrity in Ms.Ghose! India then went on to conduct 2 nuclear tests in 1998 for deterrent and peaceful use.

As Product Managers we come across situations where we need to protect the product’s long term vision while dealing with extreme pressure to give-in to several short-term benefits. Continue reading

Real Life Scenario: Product Roadmap gone sour

Jack’s organization launched a path breaking web based Application a couple of years ago, which took the market by storm, got in many new customers, filled up the coffers and made investors proud.

Over the years, the Product Manager moved on, some people in the Product development team were moved to other products, and few quit. To make matters worse, the demands from customers for enhancements and bug fixes kept coming in, the client environments evolved and the competition more or less caught up. Continue reading

Case Study: Product roadmap hijacked!

Last week Rich, the product manager of a B2B enterprise product, had finished the release planning of the 1.0 version of the brand new product line that he was managing. The release of the product was two quarters away and this week he was busy interacting with the engineering team on the finer details of the interaction design since the first iteration had just been kicked off. Rich was in general happy that content for the first release was more or less firmed up after a series of research on the competitive landscape, customer needs, technology evolutions and others.

Rich reported to Sunita, Director of Product Management and they had good working relationship. On Thursday when Rich was about to leave for the day, Sunita came over to his office and asked him if they can meet on something urgent. Continue reading