Team News & Events

Mind The Product conference stage

What Was Everyone So Excited About at Mind The Product Conference This Year?

There’s a reason Intercom’s Des Traynor calls it the “Woodstock for product managers.”

This year, the San Francisco edition of Mind The Product conference brought together 1200 product managers, 1 conference hall, and a slate of world class speakers.

It was wild, nerdy and passionate.

MTP is somewhat of a mecca for product people and the people who show up there tend to be there because they want to learn from the best and the brightest. This is where the best product managers are every year, swapping notes on what’s inspiring them, what they’re struggling with, and where they’d like to be.

This is our 2nd year with a booth at MTPcon SF, and we saw a remarkable shift in the way people approach us.

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Hmm, What Did We Do In 2015?

Wow, 2015 was a busy year for Team ProdPad. But we’re not complaining! We built a lot of value around ProdPad and our community this year and we’re pretty proud of what our small team got done. Highlights? Oh, there are plenty.

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Meet the Team: Andrea Saez, Head of Customer Success

Introducing the newest member of the ProdPad team, Andrea Saez, Head of Customer Success.

Explain what you do at ProdPad

I do a lot of client-facing stuff. I take care of all requests, attend demos and meet clients with Janna, and take care of our Help Center. I also write blog posts, tweet *a lot*, and make sure we’re spreading the word about ProdPad. I’m basically here to make sure our clients are happy and all our processes are simple and smooth, so new users have a really easy time getting onboard.

Favourite productivity app

Does Twitter count as a productivity app?

Favourite time-wasting app

Twitter.

Most famous person you’ve ever met

I’ve gone to a lot of ComicCons in Montreal thanks to a good friend of mine who always snuck me in for free, so I’ve actually met a lot of famous people… Gillian Anderson, Sir Patrick Stewart, George Takei (he is the sweetest!) to name a few. But nothing beats meeting James Marsters. There’s a great story behind that one.

Favourite thing about working remotely

Being able to switch it up. One day I can be working from our little co-op office, and the next I could be in the alps in France. It definitely helps boost creativity and productivity to not have the same routine every single day.

Puppies or Kittens

Puppies!

Fun Fact about you

I’m a classically trained violinist. I have a degree in music and all… I was even accepted into Berklee College of Music. I still have that letter of acceptance saved.

Mind The Product conference

3 Reasons to Check Out ProdPad at Mind the Product SF

This Thursday the first ever Mind the Product San Francisco hits the West Coast – and the ProdPad team will be in the house, California! We’re thrilled to be sponsoring such a phenomenal product management event – and with nine awesome speakers (including Marty Cagan and Kathy Sierra) and 600 product managers, we’re looking forward to some inspiring conversations! And since we know you’ll be busy talking all day, here’s three reasons you should make sure one of those conversations is with us.

  • Product Managers unite

You’re a product manager? What a coincidence, so are we! ProdPad was built by product managers, for product managers, to make product management more streamlined and much easier. We know what makes you tick (it makes us tick too) and we know where your daily stress points are – so come check out the awesome tools that will make your life easier, and tell us what else ProdPad could offer to improve your business, your processes, and most importantly, your product.

  • Do your body a favor – grab a handy guide

If you think eight hours of product discussion might be a little bit taxing for your brain, spare a thought for your body! We’ve all suffered from those nasty conference side effects in the past – iPad Shoulder Hunch and Notetakers Wrist – so do your body a favour and grab a copy of our Handy Guide to Product Management. It’s packed full of tips, takeaways and product management 101s, and you don’t even need to take a single note.

Disclaimer: cannot help with the unwanted symptoms of After Party Forgetfulness, but we can show you how to “remove tag” on Facebook photos.

  • Win, win, win!

Product Managers love swag, we know. So we’ll be running our product management survival Twitter contest live from Mind the Product SF. To be in with a chance of winning a coveted product manager’s survival kit we’ll be asking you to Tweet your ultimate survival tip! Come prepared (the contest starts at 9am) and make sure you mention @ProdPad and include the conference hashtag, #mtpcon and we’ll pick the best ones on the day!

We can’t wait to see you in San Francisco!

Meet the Team: Janna Bastow

In this edition of Meet the Team we sit down with ProdPad Co-Founder and Janna Bastow, to ask some fun questions and show you who’s been sending you those emails.

Explain what you do at ProdPad

That’s a big question… My background is in Product Management and before that Customer Service, so those are the two things that I take to heart the most with ProdPad. I oversee the Product Vision and Product Direction alongside Simon; I talk to customers and gather feedback, give demos, and manage all aspects of the business, making sure that we’re constantly growing, and that the team is healthy and happy.

Favourite productivity app

Slack!

Favourite time-wasting app

Ooooh… that’s a very good question. Either Chess or Google Stories.

Most famous person you’ve ever met

Richard Branson

Favourite thing about working remotely

Being able to work with the best people wherever they are, and the ability to work around a flexible lifestyle. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in London or San Francisco that week, I can still get my work done.

Puppies or Kittens

Kittens

Fun Fact about you

I once cycled from Paris to London

Got a question for Janna, or someone else on the team? Post it here in the comments or Tweet us!

ProdPad is Officially a Cool Vendor

We’re thrilled to have been chosen as one of Gartner’s Cool Vendors for 2015, as announced in their recent R&D for Manufacturers report. The report is designed “to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products and services.”

Read Gartner’s Cool Vendors in R&D for Manufacturers, 2015 (subscription required)

ProdPad was one of five tools chosen by Gartner that can “add value to R&D activities”. The vendors selected this year were also commended for “facilitating the digitalization of R&D”. We’re especially honored to have been chosen, as ProdPad co-founders Janna and Simon are themselves product managers who are committed to simplifying the role of product managers through innovative and integrated technology.

Recognition in the Gartner report represents not only a bucketload of hard work from our great team but also shows just how important our customer feedback has been in helping us develop a tool to be proud of!

So please join us in celebrating this important milestone for ProdPad by having a look at some of the report’s key findings:

ProdPad is cool because it is specifically tailored for R&D and product managers to gather and refine ideas, then align them into product specifications, and then arrange it all on a product roadmap, without paying for the capabilities that aren’t necessary for more agile organizations.

The software helps PMs make decisions about what to drive within R&D and what to deprioritize. The solution helps PMs gather feedback, quantify the results, and manage the product backlog.

It also allows activities to be tracked, and ideas be mapped to the product roadmap. ProdPad directly integrates with other development tools such as Jira, Pivotal Tracker, Trello, Team Foundation Server (TFS) and others, and outputs to PDF, PNG or live embeds.

CIOs, IT leaders, R&D IT directors, product and project managers (PPM, portfolio planning) who want a more direct innovation pipeline to product managers should evaluate this platform.

Why not see for yourself just how cool ProdPad is? Sign up for a free trial today.


Gartner, Cool Vendors in R&D for Manufacturers, 2015, Michael Shanler, 9 April 2015.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Meet the Team: Simon Cast

For our first “Meet the Team” series we’d like you to meet Simon Cast, ProdPad Co-founder and CPO. We asked him a few fun questions so you can get to know him a bit better, and put a face to those in-app messages.

Simon_Cast

What do you do at ProdPad?

I’m responsible for both the Product Management side of ProdPad, which includes working with the technical team to deliver the product that we want; working through the feedback and ideas we collate; and working with Janna to come up with an agreed roadmap and execute on it.

What’s your favourite productivity app?

ProdPad.

And your favourite time-wasting app?

Twitter!

Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?

I suppose my grandfather. He was Prime Minister of Australia.

What is your favourite thing about working remotely?

Not commuting.

We’re asking the hard questions now – puppies or kittens?

Both.

Tell us a fun fact about you

I started out as a Rocket Scientist.

Got a question for Simon or someone else in the ProdPad team? Post it in the comments here, or tweet us @prodpad!

Tip Top Takeaways from ProductCamp London 2015

Last month saw the sixth ProductCamp London “Unconference”, and since ProdPad co-founders and head honchos Janna and Simon are also founding organisers of ProductTank, we had a seat at one of London’s largest product events. One of the most exciting things about ProductCamp is that you’ll always learn something new. Although there’s no formal theme, the mission is clear: coming together to share experiences and knowledge, and define and share greatness across the product management industry.

As ProductCamp brings together hundreds of product managers with mastery of UX, design, marketing, sales (and more) there’s a whole lot of knowledge to share and soak up in just one day. But don’t worry, here are five handy takeaways you can begin to use today.

Celebrate failure

“Hi everybody, my name is Danielle and I failed.”

 Everybody cheers.

The idea behind Adrian Howard’s show-stopping Failure Swapshop is straightforward. Share your failures, and learn from those of others (no judging allowed). Use Adrian’s slides to run your own swapshop, and let ‘lessons learned’ shape product development.

Become great

Assess your skills, says Roman Richler, and keep improving. Use a framework to help you think holistically about product management competencies then identify the skills you need in these areas. You can use Roman’s handy skills assessment sheet, included in this deck, as your starting point for greatness.

Think about context

A great product manager always recognizes context, and that a one-size-fits-all solution can’t be applied to solving problems. Anthony Green’s discussion of Sensemaking and Cynefin – Knowledge in a Complex World looked at how we can employ the Cynefin framework to make better product decisions. If you haven’t heard of the Cynefin model before, Greg Broughham’s article, Cynefin 101 – Shared Context and Sense Making, is a neat introduction.

Be lean

Take a lean approach to building and testing, and collaborate with your users. Sheen Yap’s session on Lean UX looked at the importance of having a learning mindset, customer validation and taking a scientific approach – plus much more!

Use awesome tools

Awesome product managers need awesome tools, so thank the product gods that David Bushby crowdsourced the best tools and resources for Customer Development, Prototyping and Wireframing, Roadmapping and Project Management, Analytics and User Testing, and Learning and Inspiration. We were delighted that ProdPad was one of the contenders in the Roadmapping and Project Management category, alongside the likes of Slack, Asana, Basecamp and Team Gantt.

We’ll be posting the best tools, as voted for by ProductCamp attendees, soon. In the meantime, share your top tips and tell us your top ProductCamp takeaway in the comments.

Interactive design

Regenerating ProdPad: starting from scratch for beautiful design

When it came to conceiving the new design for ProdPad, we wanted this to follow exactly the same philosophy as the rest of our Regenerated project. Much like the complete re-write of our back-end, and back-to-basics wireframes from a fresh pair of eyes, we wanted to create a new ProdPad design from scratch.

For many of the same reasons behind our decision to hire Mojca, our UX expert, we brought in the support of talented front-end developer and designer Beno to take us through this regeneration. Of course, Simon and myself are even less equipped to create a beautiful finished design than we are wireframes and mockups, but in much the same way as Mojca was given a free card on our new user interface, Beno launched straight into the deep end with an interactive redesign process.

In onboarding Beno, we made a conscious decision not to follow the most classic approaches to software redesign, which tend to take one of two routes.

1. Photoshop perfectionism

It’s of course an option to complete all designs in Photoshop for sign off before development begins. A design process heavily lead by Photoshop in this way often goes hand in hand with prioritization of aesthetics. The benefits are that as project or product manager you can be sure that you’re happy with a design before committing development resources. But this approach is usually followed in line with a designer’s skill, rather than by design. Look, feel and readability are extremely important, but the risks of Photoshop perfectionism are that your design can often come out detached from how it will work on-screen.

2. Template compromises

Another option is to use a design template or framework. This is what we did for ProdPad’s first design, on top of the popular design framework Bootstrap. This approach gives a great head-start into a readily interactive design, but is cumbersome and code-heavy, especially as more and more customizations are added on. With these frameworks it’s no easy task to build a unique design that meets your needs, as customization involves mastery of conflicting styles and code.

The third route: Interactive real-time design

Instead, we’re taking a third, alternative approach to the final design of the regenerated ProdPad that works as a natural continuation of our UX designs. This is why finding the right team to work on this project was so important. Beno – much like the rest of the D.Labs team – has experience in building several other beautiful, highly interactive web-apps and has the skillset to jump straight into an interactive design. Above pixel-perfection, we knew that our design needed to reflect great flow and usability, and that would require the flexibility to craft elements for our specific use-case.

A look at the early steps of putting in the scaffolding through to a more final design of the product

A look at the early steps of putting in the scaffolding through to a more final design of the product

Beno is building the app directly from Mojca’s wireframes with AngularJS, without a final design in place, though with an understanding of the flow, and personality we wanted to achieve in the final product. He’s making visual decisions at the same time as he defines precise page layout and interactions, and sharing real interactive designs with us as new elements are built in.

If you’d like to hear more about our ProdPad Regenerated project, you can get in touch with us – and even find out about getting onto the beta program – here

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