A Product Manager’s cheat sheet

As I move forward in my journey for being a Product manager, writing some notes down to keep me honest.

Talk to your customers. A lot.

Quite obvious really, but still is the least followed practice. Even if you are building a consumer product, don’t assume that if you like something, everyone will like it. You are just part of a segment. I have been wowed every time I go meet/talk to the customer. Also, make sure that you take your design and engg team to some of these visits.

Build for impact, not the roadmap

No marks for launch. Customer impact is the only barometer for success. Let go of the roadmap if realities have changed since you last put it down in the excel. Question at every step on whether this will be a needle mover. If not sure, run an experiment before building something big.

Measure and iterate

Sometimes it takes so much to get your stuff out of the gate, that we get complacent post launch. Even if V1 is doing great, look at the funnel closely and iterate. Extract all juice before you jump. High chances (especially if you are in a startup) that there will not be any V2. Think about scale if there are manual processes involved.

Detail matters

Be a sucker for detail. Look at every pixel and every word of the copy to make sure what you ship is world class. Don’t confuse this with agility, it’s just basic hygiene.

80/20 — your best friend

PMs need to make hard calls and do what is best — in most cases for atleast 80% of their user base. Two major rules, first — Don’t penalize majority of your users for a negative use case, try best to solve for it exclusively. Second — Don’t over engineer a feature at the cost of time if the added functionality will benefit few.

Don’t forget adoption

Launch is just half job done. If 50% of your target audience is not using the feature, then your launch is still not complete. Think about how will your users discover your product and the first time on-boarding experience. Product marketing is quite different from marketing.

No-one reads PRD/BRDs (OK, most!)

Still we keep writing them. Keep documents light, and focus more on mocks. You’ll see the least leakage between requirements and what gets built when you have detailed mocks. Think about the last time someone forwarded you a 30 page document and how you scrolled below to find designs.

Be passionate!

Don’t tolerate mediocrity, hold your product to the highest standards. Make tracking fatals, downtimes and performance a ritual. Keep yours ear to the ground — subscribe to on-call mails and listen to customer calls. Don’t ignore P1s and P2s — these are things that will take your product from good to world class.

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