The Product Newsletter #62

Welcome to our Product Newsletter, a biweekly email highlighting top discussions, and learning resources for product managers.

What We Will Cover In This Edition:-

Top Discussions: 

1) Define the job responsibilities of a Platform PM

2) Is it essential to have a product manager for platform products?

3) With all the knowledge that is available online, how do you stay updated?

Top Learning Resources:

1. What is good retention? (Lenny’s Newsletter)

2. Drive Growth by Picking the Right Lane — A Customer Acquisition Playbook for Consumer Startups

3. Four Fits for $100M+ Growth

4. Startup = Growth

5. The Growing Specialization of Product Management

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Top Discussions

Question 1Define the job responsibilities of a Platform PM

The prevalence of platform product manager positions has caught my interest. As I endeavor to comprehend the responsibilities of a platform PM, I would like to pose several inquiries.

  1. What distinguishes a platform PM position from a traditional PM position? Do they operate and assume responsibilities in a separate manner?
  2. Which metrics does the function of Platform PM oversee or own?
  3. How does a platform PM engage in conversations with other PMs within the organization, such as front-end workers?

– Whitney Chard

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Discussion

A] Former platform PM for a long time. “Platform” is analogous to “back-end” or “internal PM.” They bear the responsibility for the fundamental infrastructure and tools that support the company’s ability to provide consumers with its products or services.

As part of my duties, I developed operational infrastructure to facilitate the resolution of problems at their source, customized tools for particular business units to enhance data utilization and efficiency, and rearchitected our back-end tables to enable more rapid and dependable analytics, among other responsibilities.

Additionally, you may collaborate closely with particular business units regarding their objectives. As opposed to merely adding a new modal or icon to our website, I would collaborate with our fulfillment team to reduce defects and enhance the customer experience via on-time deliveries, etc., as these metrics demanded substantial back-end modifications.

Additionally, I frequently collaborated with the front-end PMs. I was responsible for ensuring that we were configured on the back end to record interactions, make that data accessible, modify customer-facing options to reflect their actions, etc., if they requested a new button.

Your metrics may include availability and latency or be more business-oriented; however, this is dependent on your role and the organization’s objectives.
I’ll be delighted to respond to any inquiries.

– Felipe Ribeiro

B] I’ve only been a platform PM for about six months. preceding three years of B2B PM experience and seven years of program management. I was browsing obsolete Reddit threads in search of assistance and resources. Although I am already two years into the future, it would be greatly appreciated if you could share your insights on a few matters.

– Jane Winfred

C] After a year as a platform PM, it would seem you try to get your colleagues to work together and build from a common base, either identity, integration model, data model, or whatever your organization considers a platform.

I found I spent most of my life trying to bludgeon alignment into a set of acquired products for the sake of our customers not having to learn different tricks to do the same things in different places. Added: also, acting as a TPM and encouraging things like cloud migration, sensible, or at least compatible, architectures, standardizing APIs, and such, so the set feels joined up. After a year as a platform PM, it would seem you try to get your colleagues to work together and build from a common base, either identity, integration model, data model, or whatever your organization considers a platform.

I found I spent most of my life trying to bludgeon alignment into a set of acquired products for the sake of our customers not having to learn different tricks to do the same things in different places. Added: also, acting as a TPM and encouraging things like cloud migration, sensible, or at least compatible, architectures, standardizing APIs, and such, so the set feels joined up.

– Vlad Podpoly

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Question 2) Is it essential to have a product manager for platform products?

What are your thoughts and experiences regarding internal platform products that require dedicated product managers or technical product managers, such as data platforms? Are they important? Why or why not do you think so?

– Gerard Kolan

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Discussion

A] I work for a data platform as a PM. The majority of my work consists of rectifying errors that were made when there was no PM and implementation occurred arbitrarily. What do you believe your product would resemble if there were little direction and strategy, with the possibility that some of those users were contributing? We have thousands of internal users. Undoubtedly, it is a watery muddle; upon unraveling it, one realizes that the entire structure of playing cards predicated upon this sludge is prone to collapse.

– Yuri Roman

B] The answer is system/service/internal product dependent. There are many situations in which it is extremely advantageous or essential. Product manager-advised solutions are typically those that are intricate, comprise numerous features, have stringent performance criteria, or involve a wide variety of stakeholders.

Conversely, simplified or low-effort systems supervised by a limited group of expert users rather than a product manager, are regarded less favorably.

– Kane Morgan

C] Every business action incurs some expense, be it financial, time-based, or opportunity-based. The fundamental responsibility of a PM is to guarantee that the organization or team addresses the appropriate issues in the appropriate sequence and with the appropriate resolution, all in accordance with the business and its objectives. Essentially, it reduces the likelihood that time, money, or an opportunity will be wasted.

The absence of a project manager (PM) or an equivalent individual to oversee the alignment of the team’s activities with the objectives, targets, or goals of the organization suggests that the team is possibly squandering time, resources, and opportunities.

Will the group continue to produce successful and practical products? In all likelihood, yes.

Will their time, money, or opportunity be wasted more than if they had a PM? In all likelihood, yes.

If the existing people or team are unable to perform the “PM job” on their own, PM is required. In that case, PM is presumably unnecessary if they are capable of doing so.

– Flavia Bergstein

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Question 3) With all the knowledge that is available online, how do you stay updated?

Hi everybody,

As a product manager for nearly two years, I constantly consume various types of information, including podcasts, text-based content, case studies, and experiments, to learn patterns and apply relevant knowledge. However, I face challenges such as difficulty remembering information, finding the right information at the right time, and a lack of personalization. Content on platforms like Substack and LinkedIn can be too broad, lack context, or be long, making it difficult to consume. I am curious about how everyone keeps up with this information and if there are AI-powered experts like growth and product experts to help. I would appreciate any insights on this topic.

– Marty Ross

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Discussion

A] Current knowledge-seeking strategies are ineffective, as time is wasted on unnecessary reading. Instead of consuming 90% of your work reading, focus on the 10% that offers potential benefits to your job. This can be achieved by skimming through ten articles or posts, closing the tab, and moving on to the next one unless the article contains something that will improve your job performance.
As the PM for Google Maps, I cannot find a LinkedIn article on improving retention for GPS mapping apps. To focus on online research, I suggest using ChatGPT or similar tools. The information is outdated and may not always meet your needs. Upgrade to access the internet and think about your own solutions to problems. The goal is not to provide a specific answer but to provide ideas for problem-solving.

If AI isn’t enough, set aside an hour to Google your needs and skim through ten tabs of results. Close tabs that don’t contain useful ideas within 90 seconds. If you don’t find anything interesting, try the next ten or try a different prompt. Avoid getting caught up in irrelevant content. Instead, ask customers about their retention and write stories to fix problems they cite and avoid changing features they like. Your customer service team can also provide common customer pain points. Talking to people is often better research than reading online content.

– Angela Blue

B] I generally don’t. Too much overload, I read industry trades and tech news but don’t go crazy. I believe it’s important to stay informed about the latest developments in my field, but I also prioritize maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Instead of immersing myself completely in reading, I prefer to focus on acquiring practical knowledge and skills that directly benefit my work.

This way, I can apply what I learn immediately and see tangible results. Additionally, I find that hands-on experience and experimenting with new ideas and techniques is a more effective way for me to grow professionally. While I appreciate the value of staying up to date with industry trends, I believe that true expertise comes from actively applying knowledge and continuously refining my skills through practical application.

– Luis Neilson

C] In order to provide you with specific details regarding the product, it would be helpful to know what aspects of the product you are interested in. Are you seeking information about its features, specifications, or performance? Additionally, clarifying the re-timing you mentioned would be beneficial, as it is not clear what you are referring to. Could you please elaborate on what you mean by re-timing? Lastly, to demonstrate certain tools, it would be highly beneficial to provide a good example that aligns with your requirements and preferences. This will allow us to showcase the tools that best suit your needs.

– Fergus Xavier

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Top Learning Resources

Although retention is widely considered to be the most important metric to get right when building (and investing in) a business, it’s also one of the least understood. Why? Because unless you’re a growth expert or an experienced investor, you’re often relying on anecdotes, dated blog posts, and misguided benchmarks. I ran into this problem myself many times when working with startups.

Drive Growth by Picking the Right Lane — A Customer Acquisition Playbook for Consumer Startups

This article is by Dan Hockenmaier (founder of growth strategy firm Basis One and former director of growth marketing at Thumbtack) and Lenny Rachitsky (a former product lead and head of consumer supply growth at Airbnb).

As advisors to early and growth-stage companies, we spend a lot of time talking to founders about growth. One of the more common questions we hear, especially early on, is about finding more ways to grow. The questions are often phrased like, “How can we add some SEO?” or “How can we make our product more viral?”

To find out the answer to these questions, go ahead and read the article.

Four Fits for $100M+ Growth

When people focus on product market fit they always focus on the product first. But that’s putting the cart before the horse. You are thinking about the solution before properly understanding the problem and audience that has that problem. In this first part of the framework I talk about the wrong and the right way to search for Market Product Fit, what the search for market product fit looks like in reality, and the qualitative, quantitative, and intuitive signals of Market Product Fit.

A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.

If you want to start one it’s important to understand that. Startups are so hard that you can’t be pointed off to the side and hope to succeed. You have to know that growth is what you’re after. The good news is, if you get growth, everything else tends to fall into place. Which means you can use growth like a compass to make almost every decision you face.

The Growing Specialization of Product Management

The tech industry has traditionally had specialties in Design, Engineering, Marketing, and Sales. These specialties include Product Design, Brand Design, UI/UX, Research, Interaction Design, Service Design, Engineering, Marketing, and Sales. However, Product Management has not defined specialties, leading to the assumption that all Product Manager roles are equal. This is not the case, as product specializations are emerging informally as a mess. There is little understanding of what these roles mean and how they are unique but needed at different types of organizations. This article enlightens us in the growing specialization of Product Management.

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