The Product Newsletter – #1

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Product Newsletter – a weekly email highlighting top discussions, learning resources, and job posts for product managers.

What we will cover in this edition:-

Top Discussions:

Top Learning Resources:

Top Discussions:

How much responsibility should PMs have for user analytics analysis?

Hello party planners! Regarding user statistics and product management, I have two inquiries.

  • Do you have an interface that handles user data analysis for you, or how much of it is your responsibility? It would be good to know your title and the size of your company.
  • Do you know of any analytical courses or resources for product management?

I’ve been a PM at a start-up for almost three years, thus I have these questions. We are only now in a situation where we both need and are able to invest in our user data analytics to inform feature development and decisions due to very limited resources. I have little experience with SQL and analysis, therefore I’d like to know

  • how much it is required of a PM to have and use these skills, and
  • what tools are available to me to assist me build them.

To be clear, I believe these are useful skills to have, and I want to study them in any case. Additionally, I just want to be sure I’m making good use of my time as there may be other options (like hiring someone) for filling the gap in our user analytics study.

As a BI/Analytics tool, we now use Looker. Another team is in charge of pushing our user events (as well as other kinds of business data) into Looker, with the goal of providing “non-technical” stakeholders with a single source of information for all of their queries. I’d like to answer some rather complex questions, and this is the skillset gap I’m attempting to close.

A word on how we set up our user event database: We decided long ago to track all user events ourselves while we develop features instead of using a product event tracking vendor because of our healthcare situation. We choose which events are worthwhile recording as part of each feature release, and then the engineers collaborate with our analytics team to agree on name and definition. After that, the analytics team sends the data to Looker.

Your valuable inputs and insights are welcome.
– Bobby Duncan

The short answer is yes. You need to understand whether consumers are using your features, whether evidence suggests they like them, and whether there is opportunity for development. If you can’t provide facts to support any claims lower than mere revenue, all you have are people’s opinions or the loudest voices.

The long answer is that you acquire the information you have time to gather. I was shocked to discover that we hadn’t previously collected page views on certain significant features, let alone more useful data, as I am currently working on a project that is defining needs for metrics. So, I’ll have to harass the developers to do some time-consuming queries for me to retrieve the data. I don’t do SQL and doing it right now wouldn’t be a wise use of my time. Therefore, the procedure will be more difficult because someone in the past didn’t ensure that a feature had at least Google Analytics level of analytics. You can sure that one of the tasks we undertake in the future will be to obtain at least basic analytics for each product we implement in order to spare our PMs this kind of suffering.
– David Mercy

I’m in charge of it. Despite working in an independent, corporate-sponsored “startup” and holding the position of VP, I currently manage a smaller team. I’d want to have a full ProductOps function, similar to DevOps, with staff members who are more skilled in data science than I am, but that will have to wait for the time being. If necessary, I can rely on the data science and analytics team from a large corporation. My tech lead is also skilled in Tableau and SQL.

However, I only utilise my Pendo dashboard and data explorer tools to look at instrumentation data of what my consumers clicked on. Similar tasks can be accomplished via MixPanel, Amplitude, and Google Analytics. To find out more about what is often done, I would consult the resource that these suppliers publish.

A tip specifically for the healthcare industry: be careful while using these technologies to ensure that PHI isn’t unintentionally captured. We adhered to some of Pendo’s recommended practises in this area.

I wanted to add that Pendo, at least, collects whatever it can see after it is installed in your product. Therefore, you may go back and ask questions regarding clicks, page views, and other things that you didn’t configure in the beginning. This relieves you of a lot of the analytics/data science stress related to “have I thought of everything” Simply deploy the application (Pendo even offers a free entry level tier) and begin answering some of the fundamental questions, such as “which browsers do my users use? understanding that you may look back to the day you implemented the tool in your app to get more advanced later.
– Dianne Stinger

The answer to “is the product manager responsible for” Yes is the answer. A product manager is conceptually thought of as the product’s little CEO. To create the finest possible product, you turn into the person who must solve problems.

It’s no longer someone else’s job to analyze data. Practically every position in a firm requires data literacy.

Sorry, but I don’t have a boot camp or course I can recommend. Regardless of the business intelligence product your firm uses, there are probably training films available for you to watch.
– Herbert Warnick

How do you evaluate the company culture in a product-based company?

I recently started working for a new company, and throughout my interviews, they were able to persuade me that they understand what product management is and that they practice it well. But when I started working there, I saw that product managers weren’t actually conducting product management. Here are some additional findings I made and verified: There are no data insights and customer feedback for the product. Customer feedbacks are premature and too early to be done, according to the head of IT. Clients just provide the scope of work, and project managers break it down into user stories. PMs track the number of hours that developers put in during a sprint. No narrative pointing. Overtime is the norm. Typically, sprints are cancelled because the client has a higher priority, and the PM has no control over this. T-Debt is therefore at its highest point. The Scrum Master, who doesn’t even understand how scrum works, tells everyone what needs to be done. Lack of discovery and problem validation. Any other signs or scenarios you’ve encountered? Please contribute.
– Amy Walker

There are several ways to evaluate a company’s culture in a product-based company, including:

  1. Employee surveys: Surveying employees on their perceptions of the company culture can provide valuable insights into how well the culture is aligned with the company’s values and goals.
  2. Observation: Observing how employees interact with each other, how they approach their work, and how they handle challenges can provide a good sense of the company culture.
  3. Interviews: Interviewing employees, managers, and leaders can provide a more in-depth understanding of the company culture and identify any areas of improvement.
  4. Analyzing company policies and procedures: Examining the company’s policies and procedures can provide insights into the company’s values and priorities, and how they are translated into action.
  5. Examining the company’s external reputation: How is the company perceived by outsiders, such as customers, vendors, and industry peers?

– Pankaj Jain 

Sorry to hear that, though. Inquiries you might make during interviews include:

  • What recent projects did you start? How did you make your choice?
  • What last feature did you remove? How did you make your choice?
  • What new information do you have about your clients? Your method of learning it
  • What distinguishes those who succeed here from those who fail? Give some examples.

In essence, you want them to provide particular examples of the decisions they’ve made regarding products. You can find more information on finding the right fit here.
– Naomi N’wosu

Doesn’t sound like Product Management… Sounds kinda like a textbook Product Owner role, where you build a backlog based on client requirements and deliver small, measurable, testable items of work every Sprint (if it doesn’t get cancelled)

Other red flags I think would be:

  1. Requirements provided with full solution or, even worse, by providing a link to your competitor and the stakeholder saying ‘I want this functionality’
  2. Signs that your backlog is influenced by ego driven decisions rather than data or customer problems
  3. People doing more than their job roles
  4. Clients or stakeholders providing a deadline to you and the squad before you have had a chance to size or estimate effort.

– Herbert Warnick

Product manager to engineers Ratio

The ratio between product managers and engineers, according to my employer, is 1:10. To support the new structure, he said this. As a result, many PMs began overseeing two teams with entirely separate domains. Is this typical? How is the ratio in your business? And yes, there are no scrum masters here. Designers, PMMs, and data specialists do not work in teams.
– Felipe Ribeiro

I actively manage two products as an SPM, together with roughly eight other engineers, two designers, and three support engineers. By way of a different product manager who answers to me, I also oversee the management of another product.

Although I am unaware of the standard within the industry, I do find the set and the many goods difficult. Here are some tips on what I do:

  1. Instead of developing wireframes anymore, I now share interactive low-level prototypes or interactive wireframes with designers. Because of this, the designer and I both save time because discussions are more focused and center on productive points of disagreement rather than rambling discussions of everything that appears on the screen and finicky, repetitive, time-consuming tinkering with prototypes.
  2. Every day, I have separate conversations with the engineers about the sprint tickets at my 15-minute standups for both products. In this method, the discussions are brief and more interesting because the engineers have already read the tickets.
  3. I concentrate on conducting additional usability testing with the clients using the prototypes from simple conversations with clients. I currently aim to conduct two testing sessions each month. Despite the fact that the discussion is dynamic, and the questions keep changing, I frame my questions in advance. However, because I have already shown the client the prototypes, the client has specific questions before we even start talking.
    Although the feedback is more detailed, the customer is not deterred from discussing their more significant problems or pain points.
  4. More diagrams, more interactive prototypes, and less text (come on, how many engineers actually read these!)

–  Michael Yoffe

In the business, sure. However, if it’s possible, a placemat exercise to foster commonality would be beneficial.

These positions may not be necessary depending on the product space. Make a strong case for adding those abilities if there is a gap. If you truly require PMM OR data, request a short-term contractor for a particular initiative to demonstrate the potential impact.

Like a PO, a scrum master. There are positions available to perform a job like that, however anyone in the delivery team can fill that position. A well-run pod can rotate SM responsibilities. If not, I urge my engineering manager to take responsibility for the position.
– Karan Trivedi

Does your manager have a connection to such figures since I haven’t seen them before? – I’m partly trolling and partly wondering if someone genuinely has that information.

However, to respond to your query, it varies. The products’ level of development Which teams are more developed? How many tasks can you delegate?

In general, attention residue and context switching could reduce your productivity, and if you favour concentrated work, your job satisfaction could suffer as well.

Additionally, make sure you are aware of the evaluation criteria.
– Yuri Roman

Top Learning Resources:

ChatGPT prompts for scrum practitioners

Last week, I ran an “interview” with ChatGPT as an applicant for a fictitious Scrum Master position based on questions from Scrum Master Interview Guide. (See below.) While the overall results were broadly acceptable, I thought that changing the ChatGPT prompts might deliver better results. So, this time, I chose to present ChatGPT with three everyday scenarios based on more comprehensive prompts. Lo and behold, it worked very well.

How to hire a product manager

Product management may be the one job that the organization would get along fine without (at least for a good while). Without engineers, nothing would get built. Without sales people, nothing is sold. Without designers, the product looks like crap. But in a world without PMs, everyone simply fills in the gap and goes on with their lives. It’s important to remember that — as a PM, you’re expendable.

5 skills every product manager can learn From Elon Musk

Elon is a consummate infinite learner, starting right from his youth. While his classmates wouldn’t describe him as a particularly precocious boy, he did absolutely love reading. It was not unusual for Elon to read 10 hours a day on the weekend, finishing up to two books a day. And this wasn’t just limited to the weekend: his favorite afterschool activity was to head to the bookstore and read from 2-6pm each day. When he felt like he’d read every book that was worth reading in his local library, he moved on to just reading entries in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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