Tag Archives: product roadmap

Product Managers are neither Astrologers nor Gamblers

Product Managers early into their career might get a bit frustrated when their product 300946273_d0b6f28186_mfeatures do not sometimes make an impact in the market with the users. Usually, they get questioned on why an investment was made in a feature which has made little or no impact. Does it mean good Product Managers have to be good astrologers? Not at all. If only Product Managers knew what the future is – so perfectly – they could have chosen a profession which is a lot more lucrative – professing the future for world leaders and business conglomerates – who struggle to make the right decisions. Product Managers work on features or products – small and big – some make big impact in the market – some don’t. Does it mean Product Managers are gamblers and work on something at random. Not at all.

Product Managers should have their ears on the ground. They should know the pulse of their users. Essentially a product walks with the foot of the Product Manager. Based on hours of interaction with users, analysis of vast data and knowledge of the market – a Product Manager comes up with what would be the next thing that would solve a (burning) 6155148915_7199307653_zuser/customer problem or improve user engagement. It might appear to others as mere intuition – but it is not; Product Management is not Astrology. However, such carefully acquired intuitions can go wrong and make a Product Manager appear more as a Gambler. Again – where the Product Manager’s skill comes into effect is to define what one will measure when the new feature is rolled out and what would be the minimal viable product to extract maximum learning. Essentially – “fail fast” – determine that something is not working and warrants no further investment or needs a pivot based on the learning. There is no gambling involved here.

A corollary of this argument would be when products/features are successful; the same Product Managers are termed visionaries.

Photo credits: Gil and William Cho

You have got approvals from key stakeholder, the senior management is bought in, and you have been allotted resources to build the product you dreamt of all these years. A little further along the line, you walk into this meeting with Sales people to review your launch plan. The initial discussion on concept overview, cost-benefit analysis and value proposition goes smoother than you thought. Everyone in the room loves you. But the moment you pull out the next slide on the launch timeline, there is an awkward silence in the room. Followed by some throat clearing, the head of sales looks up to you and says – “So…if I get this right – you want us to go ahead and start selling the product right now, when the product wouldn’t be client-ready for another 6 months? How do you possibly want us to sell the future?” 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