The ABCs of Product Management

May 5, 2014

Product Leadership Roadmap Management

What makes great product management? From diagrams to lists, from mottos to methods, defining best practice always requires a bit of oversimplification. But if the sales team has ‘Always Be Closing’, is there anything that Product Managers should turn to as a guiding philosophy?

We believe that regardless of your approach to product management, a good mantra is ‘Always Be Collaborating’. Truly innovative products can’t be built from a company vision document alone and good product managers never stop seeking input from the rest of their business or from their customers.

Here’s more on the ABCs of more agile, customer-focused product management:

Always start with a great idea

A Product Manager should tap into sources of innovation wherever they can. Whether a great idea comes from a board meeting, the water cooler, or a piece of customer feedback – you should capture it. Make it easy for people to share their ideas, and when they don’t come to you, go and look for them. Brainstorm with every customer-facing person in your organization, scour support requests for insight, or just call up your customers and ask to chat.

But an idea with potential can only become a great idea when it’s been properly explored. If you think an idea has traction, you still need to figure out why your users might need it, the value it would bring to your business, and the effort it would take to execute. And guess what, that only requires even more collaboration.

Be open and realistic

Once you’ve captured their ideas, your collaborators will want to know what’s happening with their suggestions. Transparency with colleagues and customers alike is hugely important. The best way to manage the daily flow of requests for information is open and organized roadmapping of your products’ evolution.

A roadmap is a communication tool for everyone and needs to set clear yet realistic expectations of what’s to come. It’s for this reason that we don’t believe in roadmap dates at ProdPad. Never predictable – especially for longer-term developments – fixing dates usually just results in disappointment and backtracking. We rely on current, near-term and future time brackets to share what’s on the cards with team-members and customers.

Collaborate continually

The collaboration process is never over. User testing and user feedback is critical to making that you’re building the products your customers want. At ProdPad we make sure that collaboration is a core part of product design and mockups – do your team, colleagues or beta users have any suggestions for how something could be done better? And as soon as you’ve delivered a change, others’ opinions form one of your most important measures of success. With customer collaboration at the start, end, and all the way through the product management process, you can’t go wrong.

If you’d like to find out more about how ProdPad’s product management software can help you Always Be Collaborating – read more about our features or sign up for a completely free trial.

Janna Bastow is co-founder of ProdPad, software that helps product managers plan and deliver better products. Janna also organizes ProductTank events around the world, including Mind The Product, a global community of product managers. She likes to inspire great product conversations by asking: “What problem are you trying to solve?”

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