Being a non-technical person managing a group of techies could be intimidating. You don’t talk their language yet you have to understand their work, manage the workflow and get the work done.
Sometimes, you might feel that you could have been more involved if you were equipped with some technical knowledge about the work. You might have encountered a situation where you say something and your team gives you a completely different thing.
Alex Turnbell, Founder of Groove has mentioned once about his experience:
“The form needs to be bigger, and we need fewer navigation links,” I emailed our development lead. “No problem,” he’d say. And an hour later, I’d get a new version with a too-big form box and critical links missing from the header. “Why on earth would we remove the link to the home page?,” I quizzed him. “Um, you were the one who told me you wanted fewer links.”
This is a classic example of miscommunication between a tech and a non tech guy. The best way to resolve this problem is to be specific in what you want. The above conversation can be rephrased to “let’s remove the About, Features links and increase the size of the form submit button by 30%” This makes it clear and straight to the point.
But, you don’t need to attend classes to overcome these issues. Having worked with few product managers of non-tech background, here, I am sharing what they did to ensure that the product didn’t suffer and team was managed well.
1. Know your product and your team. Before managing the product, you should have a clear picture of what the product is. What problem is it solving. Why would anyone use it. Knowing your team is equally important. It’s okay if you don’t understand technical jargons. But, you should know what each member of your team does.
2. Create a pitch deck presentation for your team. Create a pitch deck presentation of the product. It should have following things:
- One line Elevator Pitch of the product
- What Problems are you solving.
- Important Features and what each feature does, along with the wireframe.
- Cite Examples or similar products.
- What kind of team would you want to develop the whole product
- Estimated timeframe.
This gives a better picture of what you want in the product to your team.
3. Be specific and straightforward. Be crystal clear in your requirements and accordingly convey it to your tech guys. It is always better to list down all the features of your app specifically. Describe every single thing clearly. This keeps you and the team on the same page. Both of you will have a better understanding of what you are building.
4. Discuss with your tech team and make timelines. Transparency and better communication always prove to be helpful in efficiently managing the product. Discuss with your team and make timelines of how you are going to achieve the target. Be honest. Tell them if you don’t understand any of their points. Ask them to be equally honest with you. Since, you have a list of things you want in a product, discussion becomes easy. Accordingly, assign work to them and set milestones.
5. Coordinate. The most important thing is to keep coordination among your designers and developers. Making sure that everyone is connected makes it easier to manage. Make sure everyone knows the status of the work at each time. Then, communication with the team doesn’t remain stressful anymore. You understand what they are working on better.
6. Know your end goal. You might not know how but you should know what. You must know what your end goal is. Accordingly, work towards achieving it. Make sure your team has everything they need.
Summarising the aforementioned points.
Know your product. Understand your team. List down everything you need in a product. Discuss with the team. Be honest and have transparency. Set up milestones and timelines. Keep coordination among different groups. Focus on what your end goal is.
P.S. Big fan of Silicon Valley!
Originally posted on Enigma Blog.