A Chapter From The Diary Of a PM Mommy.

Please raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself “productizing” your kids schools projects while your kids look at you with horror … This is totally me ! while I try to work on it, I can’t help myself. When my oldest approached me, asking me what is that I actually do and what is the deal with all those long conference calls, I decided to seize this opportunity and explain why mommy sometimes is a bit “crazy”. This made me think about all the project I worked on over the years and reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly of being a Product Manager and god help me, how to explain it to a 9 year old?


Since holiday season is officially open , what better way to do that than build a gingerbread house ?? (you know.. building a product blah..blah. blah).Here are some of the guidelines we followed:

Research…Research…Research

The very first thing we need to do when building our gingerbread house is to know:

1.Who are we building it for ? we decided the target audience is age group 7–9 years old that loves gummies and marshmallows but no so much candy cane. (for the recored I love candy canes… Not sure how this happened. Its definitely my husbands side of the family, the ones that loves Vanilla).

2. What makes this gingerbread house better than the pre-made ones we buy at the store ? Our house will have more candy that is directly targeted for my audience and will not fall apart so easily. (stability and performance…Way to go kiddos!)

Define your Requirements

Ok, so after doing all this thinking we are ready to build it !

Nope, not just yet kiddos … you know how when you plan on drawing your favorite Pokemon/ Shopkin’s ? what do you do first..? well we trace it with a pencil to make sure we know what we want the picture to look like. So this is what we are going to do next.. write everything (possibly drew …) we would like the house to have.

1. We decided on putting the house on a base

2. We decided on icing (did I say vanilla already? )

3. We picked all the candies we want to use

4. We decided on Landscape

Onwards and upward people … time to get busy building !

Prototype

OK, So we will be building a quick house to make sure its what we want … after looking at multiple recipes and assessing the level of difficulty and time it will take us to finish a gingerbread house (Time to Market People), we decided that it will be worth it to simply “acquire” the pre-made structure to speed up the delivery while decorating it based on our needs.(buy vs build is not always an easy decision but much needed at times).

We had multiple vendors to choose from. Some were way too expensive, while others were in our price point but were not very big (apparently mini houses are not very cool). After back and forth and some unavoidable meltdowns at the store we had a winner ! (I had to buy 2 to keep the peace at home … we called it an “alternative design”)

(Yes, this is my son eating some of the specs… forcing us to re-plan as we go and make do with less resources than expected).

Initial User testing — Time to test it out !

(Disclaimer — we could not find any other member of the “target audience” so we tested it on my husband and myself.. I know we broke one of the most critical rules here but give me a break .. its a gingerbread house after all … **spoiler alert** plus I was able to influence the design .. see below the candy-cane YUMMY!)

Refine — Based on some of the initial testing we did, we changed the requirements a bit since we realized that putting hard candy on the window will not be as nice as initially thought.. (I cannot explain this ..).

Beta — After changing the interface a bit, we decided we are ready to take it to the next level … we officially launched a beta program (this was something that for some reason was hard to explain to my kids… I was able to name it “practicing for the real time unveiling of the house). We looked at the house.. we touched the candy and looked for areas that need some more love (aka sugar!).

Refine again — Surly enough, we realized that the house was not so stable as we hoped … so we straighten the foundation and did some work on the “infrastructure” to make it preform better. After testing it out more we decided we have our first version of the house ! (we have our V1 MVP..YAY!)

Launch Day is here ….

After letting the house dry a bit we were ready for prime time .. we launched the house in the presence of some board members of the house (we invited the grandparents as well), and it was time to take this baby for a spin!

(You might notice we had some redundancy there .. we miss calculated the materials we needed but we did not throw it away .. we will re-use in on v2, maybe).


So after all this what did we learn, I asked my sweet offsprings … “We learned that the gingerbread cookie is not that great” … Yup! can make this up people.

My Oldest decided while doing what mommy does is ok.. he prefers being a scientist at NASA because they have much more fun discovering things than building them.

I will give those 2 vanilla loving humans a lot of credit .. sitting in those long meetings and holding off on building those houses took a lot.

Great Job kiddos, You both make me proud ! (in spite the fact that you think my job is not so cool).

Signing off on this one … until next time (“strategizing” homework anyone?)

The Mommy PM.