Claire 是秘銀的首席 PM，負責整個產品開發團隊。
秘銀的速度很快，來看看 Claire 如何在對產品品質要求的前提下，又能有效帶領整個產品團隊合作無間，在時程內上線新產品與功能。
「怎麼會走上 PM 這條路？」「喜歡當 PM 嗎？為什麼？」
我是外文系畢業的，畢業後嘗試過各種工作，後來在因緣際會下開始當 PM，然後才發現我喜歡、也適合做 PM。當時的公司也是新創，原本做的是英語教學產品的英語顧問，然而當時公司規模很小，只有工程師還沒有 PM，公司內部人員少，機會多，在設計英語產品的過程中需要與工程師溝通，慢慢學習到一些 PM 的技能。當時公司有一個轉職的機會，我便把握住了。那時公司沒有 PM 部門，由我帶領 PM 團隊，所以大部分都是透過自學，找資料大量閱讀、找人詢問，從零開始建立 PM 應該要具有的能力與基礎知識。
「覺得作為一個 PM 最重要的是什麼？」
我覺得最重要的就是「溝通能力」。因為 PM 的工作每天都要跟很多人溝通。PM 可以說是唯一會直接面對公司不同單位的人，必須要了解並協調不同的需求，了解各組的人習慣的溝通方式，然後確認產品的目標、專案和內容，公司各團隊的人都可以了解。
一個專案內容，每個部門要了解，或是知道的面向也不一樣。舉例來說：今天行銷與客服部提出想要在產品內加上推薦朋友的功能，那 PM 就要與需求提出的團隊討論使用者的需求，這個功能的目的是什麼，你們期待使用者是如何操作的？然後 PM 也會根據其他產品的使用經驗來跟需求團隊討論。然後再去列出規格並與工程師討論可行性與如何執行、需要多少時間，決定排程等等細節。此外，產品開發團隊裡有設計師、前端、後端，測試，每個人要了解的規格面向也不同，唯有不斷溝通，才能確保大家是往同一個方向前進。
另一個我覺得很重要的就是學習能力。不管是技術跟市場一定都是一直有新的東西，PM 必須不斷學新的東西、跟上所有人的腳步，因為 PM 要站在團隊前面、看清楚方向要往哪邊走，才能帶領團隊完成好的產品。
比如說，要開發一個新產品的時候，就要開始想一開始會有什麼功能？在這個時候通常會先去參考其他人怎麼做的，或是根據需求者提出的目標。之後我們會先畫 wireframe（線圖），跟需求端和技術端確定是否可以實作。都確定之後，就會開始寫規格，規格必須要窮盡自己所能想到的各種狀況，產品才會完整，所以我覺得這是最難的部分，但也滿有挑戰性的。每一件對使用者來說可能小到不會注意到事情，PM 都必須要去考慮到、並且納入規格設計。而且對使用者來說相同的一個功能、顯示，其實前端、後端、UI、測試要做事情都不一樣，也因此 PM 要出的規格也都不一樣。
以 VAULT 為例，在規劃「提領」這個功能時，除了使用者的流程外，還要思考到：
UI：各欄位欄位怎麼設計，才能夠讓使用者有好的體驗，如何在有多種數字長度可能性（整數或小數點後很多位）的狀況下讓介面完美顯示、Web / App 不同的設計，
但目前 PM 團隊有慢慢擴大，所以我的工作還包含要帶領其他 PM，建立起專案與產品的一些 SOP 和訓練方法，讓大家都能夠一起跟著團隊成長。
對啊，Scrum其實是敏捷開發很重要的一套心法。目的是讓一個東西可以快速的產生原形，很快的被做出來，拿到市場做測試。我這邊可以介紹一下，跟一般瀑布式開發不一樣的是scrum會做衝刺（Sprint），PM 會把專案需求切成小部分，丟到 Sprint 裡面。Sprint 的長度通常是兩週。一個 Scrum team通常會有：Product owner、設計師、前端工程師、後端工程師、測試，其中一位會是 Scrum Master，主要負責協調 Scrum team 內的工作，解決大家遇到的困難等等。
PM 就會在每次 Sprint 前將需求提供給 Scrum Team，工程師會估點（計算工作時間），所以執行一段時間之後，就會知道 Scrum Team可以承擔的點數是多少，慢慢就能夠評估一個專案的實作時間。
不過秘銀並沒有跑全部的 Scrum 流程，因為就如同我所說，Scrum 只是一個心法，並非強制的做法。要依照團隊的文化和特性來不停調整。因為 Scrum 還有一個很重要的原則，就是要不斷迭代，我們跑 Scrum 的方法，也是在開完回顧會議 (Retro) 後適時做調整。
Yvonne: 這樣聽起來跑 Scrum 超棒的啊！但是不是也有什麼缺點呢？
有啊，其實因為專案很大 (在秘銀可能都是開發一個完整的產品) ，時程很趕，很多時候滿難去規劃一個 Sprint 要完成什麼事。因為敏捷有一個原則，Sprint planning 的時間後不會關需求）。再加上我們人數少，有時還要兼顧解決 bug 等等，所以要能夠預估一個 Sprint 要排入哪些目標，會比較困難，再加上我們這邊變動快，就算排定了也常常需要修改。
就我而言我覺得敏捷開發最重要的是心法，但以人力沒有非常充裕的新創來說，Scrum Master 一定要保有一定程度的彈性，適度地調配人力，才能在開發新產品的過程中，同時確保既有產品的順利運轉。
「覺得做為一個 PM 在秘銀最大的優點/最開心的事情是什麼？」
學寫程式，我最近在下班後會跟我們家前端工程師 Scott 學寫前端語言，目標是能夠寫出自己的網站，而且哪天想轉行當前端也能夠被錄取的程度。另外我很喜歡瑜伽，雖然最近工作比較忙有點怠惰了，還是希望能夠撥出時間做瑜伽，做瑜伽的時候會覺得全身得以舒展。
Meet Claire: Product Manager at MITH
Translated by Kristi Yang
A product manager determines the success of a company product — which also directly influences the success of a company. This person is super crucial!
Claire is the leading product manager at MITH, who is in charge of the entire product development team.
The product release pace at MITH is relatively fast. Let’s take a look at how Claire effectively and efficiently steers the coordination within product team — while ensuring product quality — and delivers new product and features in time.
“Why did you become a product manager? Do you enjoy being a product manager? Why?”
I graduated from department of foreign language and literature. I’ve attempted numerous positions after graduating from university, and became a product manager by chance. I came to realize that not only do I enjoy being a product manager, but I’m also a great fit. I was at a start-up company as a English consultant for an English learning product.
The company scale back then was rather small, with only a few engineers and without a product manager. Since there were only so many employees, there are some great opportunities. During the process of designing an English learning product, communication with developers was required and thus gradually led me to learning some essential skills for product management. There was an opportunity for me to transfer from a consultant to a product manager, and I grasped it. Since there wasn’t an established product management team, I’ve became the lead. I’ve self-learned almost everything — through researching information and consulting experienced professionals. I’ve basically built up my ability and knowledge of a product manager from scratch.
I love being a product manager! I think it’s very accomplishing. Seeing what I’ve visioned and planned being developed into an actual product is amazing, especially the process of witnessing it being built from the ground up.
“What’s the most important skill of a product manager?”
I think it’s “communication skill”. As a product manager, I have to communicate with a lot of people on a daily basis. A product manager is probably the only person who faces people from different teams. He/she needs to coordinate various demands and requirements, understand the communication habit of different teams and then further confirm the goal, project and content of a certain product.
There are multiple and various aspects of a product that each team should familiarize with and understand. For an example: marketing and customer service team brought up the requirement of adding a “refer a friend” feature in one of our products. The product manager should then discuss user requirements with the team that requested this feature, such as: what’s the purpose of this feature? How do we expect users to operate this? Other products’ user experiences are also referred upon. The product manager will then list out specifications and discuss feasibilities, execution and time frame with the developer, and eventually decide on schedule details. In addition, there are designers, front-end developers, back-end developers and quality assurance developers involved in the development process. Each professional has a different aspect of specification to comprehend. Only through constant communication can we guarantee that everyone is moving forward in the same direction.
Another important skill is the ability to learn. There’s bond to be new stuff sprouting in either technical or marketing fields all the time. The product manager ought to constantly acquire never-heard-before-knowledge and keep up his/her pace with the trend. Since the product manager is in a leading position of the team, he/she needs to determine which way to go for the team to develop a great product.
“Can you briefly share your daily routine?”
When I’m working on a project, I spend a lot of time designing specifications. Let me give you an idea:
When we’re developing a new product, we have to first think about: which feature comes first? This is when we start researching other products as reference, or plan according to the target of the requestor. And we’ll draft wireframes to confirm with the requestor and development team whether the execution is feasible or not. After all is set, we’ll start on specifications. Specifications must include all possible conditions for a product to be complete. I think this is the hardest part — also the most challenging. Even the tiniest trifles that perhaps users overlook needs to be considered and included in the design. Front-end developers, back-end developers, user interface designers and quality assurance developers all have various responsibilities for each feature and display. So the product manager has to map out different specification requirements tailored to each responsible individual.
Take VAULT for an example. When we’re planning for “withdraw” feature, in addition to user flows, we should also think about:
User interface: What is considered as a good user experience for each column? How can we flawlessly display the interface on condition that there are numerous number lengths (Should we be using integral number? Or should we decide on how many digits to display after the decimal point?)? Different designs for web and app?
Back-end: Is there a maximum or minimum daily withdrawal quota? What could go wrong (insufficient balance, exceeded maximum limit, below minimum quota)?
Front-end: How to display error message? Should we send different feedback for each error? Maximum/minimum withdrawal digits design?
In short, the daily routines of a product manager are:
Verifying specifications, confirming specifications, making sure everyone is working on the correct specifications, drafting new specifications.
Luckily, the product management team is gradually expanding. So now my scope of work now also includes leading other product managers and establishing a set SOP and training procedures of certain project and products so that everyone can grow along with the team.
“I recall having a Scrum team? Can you introduce us to Scrum?”
Yup, Scrum is actually a mindset, an agile way to develop a product. Its purpose is to formulate a product in a short period of time, present, and test it in the market. Let me briefly introduce what it is. In respect to Waterfall development methodology, scrum has sprints. The product manager will divide project requirements into small portions and throw them into a Sprint. A Sprint usually lasts for 2 weeks. And a Scrum team is usually composed of: a product owner, designers, front-end developers, back-end developers and quality assurance developers. One of them will be the Scrum Master, who’s in charge of coordinating within the Scrum team and resolving the challenges encountered.
The product manager will provide the Scrum Team with requests before the Sprint starts. This is when the developers will estimate points (that represent working hour forecasts). So after executing for some periods of time, we’ll be familiar with how many points can a Scrum Team digest, and gradually we’d be able to estimate an implementation timeframe of a certain project.
The actual development schedule of a product is really hard to grasp. But agile developing assists the product team in chopping a huge project into small pieces. Completed and demonstrated separately, we constantly synchronize during the process to deliver the product that matches up to team expectation as well as market demand.
However, MITH did not adopt the complete process scope of Scrum. As I mentioned before, Scrum is a mindset, not an enforced methodology. Known for its flexibility, we have to constantly adjust and adapt according to the culture and characteristics of the team. Scrum has another important principle — incremental iteration. So we’d always adjust accordingly after our retrospective meetings.
For me, I think the most important part of agile developing lies in each team member’s mindset. For a start up that lacks sufficient man power, the Scrum Master has to have a certain degree of flexibility. Workloads must be adjusted timely and accordingly. This is the only way to guarantee product delivery while the remaining products run smoothly.
“What would you consider the greatest perk about being a product manager at MITH?”
I love how MITH is giving us great freedom and flexibility. We don’t have to report everything. As long as we achieve the goals set by management team, it doesn’t really matter how we’ve approached it. In addition, there is always room to adjust product release schedules. This way, I can guide the team in delivering a quality-assured product. A flat management hierarchy eliminates the level difference. The management team respects employees’ opinions. They’d always respect us whenever we think otherwise or have a better approach in mind.
MITH is also never shy of utilizing all resources, which drastically improves our efficiency. A lot of companies are unwilling to provide great tools in order to reduce cost — in both software and hardware aspects. This, in return, reduces efficiency. And in order to match up to schedule, they’ll have to hire more employees. These are all hidden costs that should be taken into account.
Lastly, our team isn’t huge, but we have strong developing capabilities and high efficiency. Though the product release schedule is pretty much rushed all the time, we barely have to work over time. We help each other out, and brainstorm about ways to enhance efficiency.
“What do you do in your spare time or on weekends?”
I love spending time with my dog. I’ve adopted a Maltese-Terrier mix. He has the legs of a terrier and the face of a Maltese. Super hyper yet very timid. We go on walks two to three times a day, and I prepare fresh food for him everyday.
I sometimes still think about work on weekends, or I learn things that I’m interested in. When I’m too stressed out, I’d try to take my mind off things by watching TV. I was previously binge-watching Story of Yanxi Palace!
“What’s your favorite food? What do you enjoy munching on in the office?”
Gummies! I love all sort of gummies. When I’m under a lot of pressure, I tend to keep eating or chewing to help me think and loosen up a bit. So if you find me munching on Haribos, you’ll know that I’m having a hard time with those specifications.
“If you were an animal, what would you be?”
I think I resemble my star sign — a Leo. I enjoy being a leader, and it’s very accomplishing to guide a whole team forward. Some said that I look kind of fierce when I’m serious. This also fits in the traits of a lion. But I’m actually more of a lioness who loves taking care of people, listening to people’s troubles and thinking of resolutions.
“What would you like to learn or work on recently?”
Learn to code. Recently I’ve been learning front-end development with our front-end developer, Scott. My goal is to build my own website, and to be hired in case one day I’ve decided to become a front-end developer. I love doing yoga — though I’ve been slacking off recently due to the volume of work — hope I could spare some time to resume doing yoga. My whole body gets to stretch and relax while doing yoga.
“What’s your dream?”
I love learning new things. I hope I’ll be able to constantly learn new technologies or develop new products in a suitable environment. I’d like to work remotely on a long-term basis. This allows me to be in an ideal location and take on some cool projects — with a great development team, of course!