Saturday 21 December 2013

Product management in startup

I always loved product management. Thinking about what others want is such a selfless feeling.
It is not a natural instinct for everyone. It is tough, human beings are designed to be egoistic. 

Product management is like a right drink, alcohol(Technical skills),water(Business acumen) and ice(User experience).Product management follows S Curve and includes product development(Microphone as inbound) and product marketing(Speaker as outbound).


Microphone activities include customer research/feedback, trend analysis, competitive analysis, and development.Speaker activities are feedback, distributing marketing messages, training sales people and engagement team, brand promotion strategies. 

Sitting in room and believing what customer wants didn’t work well for many companies. This might be the reason why startup became beast enough to swallow big corporate products.So now let us think about the small boat, does startup require product management team?Are the co-founders smart enough to figure out what product needs? The answer can be yes, if one of the co-founders is a product guy!That also means startup needs a product guy.
Product management should simmer the boundary with other disciples like sales, development and customer engagement.It needs complete involvement from the whole company so that right signals are passed to product team. 

What it takes to make a great product management in your startup?

Start from top: Everyone in the startup should believe that product management is very important.
Don’t forget gut feelings comes from gut neither brain nor heart. Even CEO has to listen to what product management team says!This also means all the decision makers should have “product guy” qualities defined below.

Audience Discovery: Sometimes startup lose focus because proper audience discovery is not done.
The product management should discover the audience and understand their needs in depth.Build persona and write down the what they want to do.You have to metamorphous to a “Black Swan” and it needs practice.

Don’t love your product: Product management team should not get obsessed. Don’t build a product you want.Build a product customer wants. This falls back into Audience discovery and understanding  their needs.

Process is a garbage collector: In product management focus and methodological approach is very important.But do you need elaborate process ?. The answer is no, use process as a garbage collector.Use it as a tool for focus. Whenever you feel some task takes away your focus add a process to do that.Also add process when you feel anybody should be able to do the task.

Put the team into focus: Product guy is the “NO” guy not the “YES”. When bunch of passionate people brain storm over new feature lot of opinions surfaces.Looking deep into facts and doing the right thing for the customer is “must” for product management.

Fear of failure: As a product manager fear of failure can prevent you from doing the right thing. ”Fixing Fast” is more important than doing it right first time.Build your team around this.

Core Fans: Identify the core fans of your product. Best way to identify your core fan is to look at the data you collected about usage.This is as important to remember that this group is the right audience you discovered. Core fans can really accelerate your brand value.They are the ambassadors and see value in your product. They will pay for your product. Core fans also knows how handicapped your product is.Listen to them.

Continuous feedback: The importance of feedback is spoken a lot about but how many companies does make it actionable. And sometimes startup over react to the feedback derailing the product.
The right balance is the most important job of product management.

Most of the above point is applicable for all companies.
So what you think is the right thing happening in your startup w.r.t product management?