4 simple tips for product management

The key to success for a business depends to some extent on effective management. Organization and coordination of business activities is necessary to achieve the desired objectives.

By this blog I would like to share a few managerial tips that can help achieve and maintain the simplicity for your product over the course of the time.

#1. Adopt simple policies and processes

Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains
— Steve Jobs

Often we have multiple policies and defined set of rules and standards to follow whilst in an organization. We cannot deny or ignore them (you must have manager’s manager’s manager sitting on your head then!), instead, what we should do is tailor those processes to match with the kind of product that we are building. Every product has its own unique requirements and constraints and not all the processes could be implied upon all the products. You need to simplify these processes. Trust me, implementing processes in a correct way will never result as just a waste of time. It always comes to your rescue in need (audits, chaos, disagreement etc.)

If you already have simple processes defined at your end, then kudos man! But if not, then take the first step to define some policies and set some standards for your work and the work you promise to deliver to your clients. Defining standards help you achieve better, maintains a certain discipline in your team and will eventually lead to quality products and easy employees’ management.

To begin with, identify core factors of your product such as no. of people working, team size, external communication involvement, stakeholders, deadline, difficulty level, complexity etc. Once you have identified these factors tailor your processes to suit best. For example:

  • Conduct team meetings every fortnight or month to discuss who’s-working-on-what and the issues being faced by the development team
  • For every meeting, generate meeting notes that could be easily shared with team. Define a template for the meeting notes as it would become easy to read and understand
  • State clear expectations for every team member. This will help each member to work with full focus

Go ahead with the standards as per your work and do share here what new processes you use that could help others.

#2. Take initiatives for on-time feedback

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.
— Bill Gates

Feedback is always welcome by all individuals (though negative ones aren’t that appreciated!). Even though your company’s appraisal policy states yearly meetings and reviews, try not following that at product level coz it’s not related with appraisal. Simple!

Never miss an opportunity to praise your team member for the excellence shown by him/her or bring in attention anything wrong that he/she is doing either in work or professionally in general. Make sure you provide sufficient time to each team member to get the trust from them.

  • Schedule one-on-one meetings with team members once a month (keeping in mind your team size and work engagement)
  • Send emails for appreciation of work after a major or high-end release. This will boost their moral to keep working hard
  • Take a visit once-in-a-while on your employees’ desk to talk about daily work and correct any undesirable behavior

With these simple steps, you may see productivity boost in your team and respect for you as a mentor.

#3. Clear communication

Communication works for those who work at it.”
— John Powell

As easy as it sounds, in practical it is not that easy for everyone to communicate. I have seen managers, analysts, developers working on requirements based upon their understanding for someone else’s business coz they found it awkward to ask so many questions to the client and have assumptions that nobody likes to provide their business details. It is not true…

The more logical and correct questions you ask to your client, the more you understand their business and better are the chances for the product to be in line with expectations and at times you would be surprised that even client didn’t consider this business aspect!

A product built upon assumptions or confusion or hesitation in communication or asking questions cannot hold strong values or represent your exact business solutions.

Be simple, clear, modest and humble while you speak to your clients or your team members. The real challenge lies in situations which are not-so-friendly and you have to convey your point without sounding rude or blunt. Speak precisely and straight-forward and constraint yourself from over-promising on the deliverables.

  • Be upfront to share the details with your clients in case there are any hurdles (specially with deadlines!)
  • Ask logical questions and inculcate the same habit in your team members (It’s really not easy in every situation to come up with logical questions
  • Learn to say “No” for things that genuinely concerns your product

#4. Define key objectives

Your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does.
– Jeff Bezos

When we start working on a product, we have business to study, several references to explore, strategies to prepare, etc. All these can sometimes overwhelm you and you might lose the original requirement completely during the course of development of your product.

With clear objectives not defined it is very easy to deviate based upon the strict competition and need to add features that can be unique for your product.

Identify your key business objectives and prepare Milestones to get the work done in accordance with your defined objectives.

  • Build a roadmap for your product
  • Prioritize your features (There are several ways to do so as MoSCoW technique, weighted average technique etc.)
  • Based upon requirements priority assign the features to milestones (SCRUM/AGILE technique)
  • Assign deadlines for each milestone and route your team’s work for that milestone only.

Doing this way will improve the ability for getting things done and will keep off the burden of not able to release. Also with a visible roadmap it becomes quite easier for you as a manager to visualize the complete picture of the product in detail.

There are many tools available to assist in building roadmaps such as Aha and managing milestones and features such as JIRA, Trello, TFS Online, Asana etc. Be smart by using these tools to get insights and analytics for your product to keep optimizing your planning.

These were a few tips that I implemented at my work and found them really fruitful to create and specially to maintain product and retain trust and confidence of my team members.

Hope it might help you as well. Don’t forget to share your experiences here!

Keep Managing :)

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