Getting the timing right solved major frustration in product management. As a former engineer, I feel super frustrated when receiving design-related remarks, not because they are not valid. In fact, the remarks are extremely valid and have every right to be discussed. But, it comes at the wrong time and engineers have to bear the consequences.

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

“Can you make the font larger? Can you make this color darker?”

You might not hear the exact phrase in this case, but it should be something along the line. These are valid question and there is no reason to be frustrated. …

Building the right feature attract more users, create stickiness, and increase retention. However, the most simple and most difficult feature tends to kill the product. We often overly add simple features and over-complicate difficult features.

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

“If this is simple, let’s just build it”.

There are always overflowing feature wishlists, scope, story, and tickets. Whatever your company calls it. We spent the bulk amount of our time discussing the toughest feature that can bring the most value. On the simple one, we tend to let it slip through without much thinking.

You surely heard from management, PM, Sales, or whoever that is requesting the feature: “how difficult is this?”…

Why I gave up 8 years of coding skills to become a product manager.

In Jan 2011, I got my first taste of building my very own mobile app for users. I still remember sweating about forking up USD $99 to enroll in the Apple Developer Program. In 2 weeks after shipping, I manage to earn almost 200% of the enrollment fees!

“The customer is always right” is a subjective slogan that aims to provide high-quality service to the customer. When it comes to software products and services, it really can backfire. The tendencies to overreact to a paying client’s concern can cause us to lose valuable time.

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“We need this feature, our potential client asking for it!”

From the standpoint of a company that builds our own product rather than doing a consultancy. When building a software-as-a-service product, whether, for businesses or users, you bound to hear of this. It can come from the sales manager, founders, or even product manager!

Whenever we are in an advance discussion that can potentially…

The common misconception about prioritization and hiring always led to unnecessary confusion and anxiety. We have the same goals in delivering quality products according to the timeline. All we need is a little more understanding across departments to solve the unnecessary confusion.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

“Let’s tackle this ASAP”

abbreviation for as soon as possible

The most overused word in all industries. Let’s fix this ASAP. Let’s ship this ASAP. Let’s get this done ASAP.

ASAP drive the receiving party nuts. Not just in product management. No matter you are in a startup or a well-established firm. Everyone has tasks on hand to do. …

Held hostage by a bad technical decision? Ever heard of Technical Debt?

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

If you work in a startup or creating a brand new product in a larger firm, an early decision about certain design bound to be a stumbling block later down the road.

Before we go further, I just want to let you know that this is normal. The decision we make base on incomplete knowledge tend to come back and bite us. There is no way to completely avoid it. Because, to get more information about this incomplete knowledge, we got to launch and iterate base on the…

Best Engineers Quit due to Wrong Recognition

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Whenever someone does a great job, we want to recognize their effort. We want to give them recognition or rewards in front of the team members to make them feel appreciated.

However, having worked in a few startups, I notice that a wrongly attributed recognition can cause the best engineers to feel frustrated. If it happens frequently, they quit.

Everybody knows that you need more prevention than treatment, but few reward acts of prevention.
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

In the book, the author mentions…

There are many good things about having technical knowledge as a product manager. However, we also face many struggle uniquely to technical product manager.

You can understand the technical jargon that the engineers use. You can ask the right question or at least phrase it in the right way when speaking with an engineer. You understand the challenge of building something with ambiguous input and therefore aim to helps the engineer who works with you.

Many companies even outrightly seek candidates who have prior experience in development or a computer science degree.

Photo by christopher lemercier on Unsplash

But truthfully, many struggles are unique to a…

8 months ago, I give up coding full time and become a product manager at Milieu Insight. Looking back, it took me a while to make the decision. Was it right?

I wrote about my early day of product manager here and here.

Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

Approaching my 8 full months without full-time coding, I reflected on my choice and decided to share what has changed in my life. Maybe it might influence someone else to switch or not to switch?

A little bit of myself

After leaving my own startup, I become a full-time developer in a consultancy firm. I then move on to lead developer in…

What is the one skill that all product manager needs?

Weeks ago I wrote about a product manager does not need to know how to code. During a conversation with a friend, he asked: “if it is not coding skills, what are the one skill a product manager must have”?

I was caught by surprise and struggle to give a good answer. I replied something along the line like: “product manager requires a broad skill set, there isn’t a definite must have skills.” I wasn’t particularly pleased with my own answer, to be honest.

It is until yesterday, where I…

Zac Kwan

Product Lead | Former Engineer | I help product managers strike the right balance between engineering, design, and business. Twitter: @Zaccc123

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