Your daily dose of Product Management Goodness

Maintaining a business case
Maintaining a business case

Maintaining a business case

How many of us build out a business case to get our product funded and then simply forget it?

It is worth remembering that the business case changes as conditions change; customers, markets, competition, risks, numbers, etc all can change. To build the business case once and then forget it is to neglect this fundamental of change. And if we build the business case and forget it, we’re building a product for historical market conditions – what our markets used to look like.

Simple product management tip – make a habit of reviewing your business case an...

Retiring a product
Retiring a product

How do you retire a product?

Is it even important to have a strategy when you’re pulling the product, why worry? Two reasons:

? Customers - Do it badly and customers aren’t going to be knocking at your door for your next product. You lost their trust.

? Competition - Get it wrong and you leave the door wide open for competitors to enter and build their position.

Think of retirement as the mirror of market entry - do your research, build your plan, and communicate your position clearly and frequently.

We have a tool to help you decide whether retirement is the best option for...

What do you look for...
What do you look for...

We often get asked to assess a potential PM candidate. Outside of their PM knowledge, these are the attributes that I look for...

What do you look for in the perfect product manager?

What keeps you awake at night
What keeps you awake at night

Where do you find that next, great breakthrough product? One way is to turn your mindset from product innovation to problem validation. Think about it – we are all motivated to fix problems that stress us. Your customers are no different. The bigger the stress, the more motivated we are to find the fix. So step into your customers shoes and think about what keeps them awake at night. 3am problems generate successful products.

Opportunity
Opportunity

When is a good opportunity NOT a good opportunity?

When it doesn’t match capability. It’s easy for Product Managers to get carried away with an idea and forget to look into their business. That knock-out opportunity you’ve identified might simply not match your organisation. Think of it as a capability review. Does your business have the funds, technical skills, market access, reputation, reach, scale and strategy intent to address the opportunity. If not, that great new product idea has the potential to sink your business.

Product Communications
Product Communications

Leaders of Product Management often ask how to get their team to be better product communicators - to be able to get their message across well. My response is to ask one simple question “When did you last ask the team about value propositions?”. Here are some simple tips to drive better product communications:

1. Be value proposition obsessed
Test the team regularly by getting them to present the following:

• Elevator pitch
• Five minute overview
• Product vision
• Value proposition
• Objection handling

2. Measure communications effectiveness

• E.g. does the sa...

Balance - customer needs
Balance - customer needs

We run a product clinic with one of our customers every week. Question of the week was this “How do I balance the needs of the loudest customers against the many?”. It’s a common issue, and here are my top tips

1. Have a compelling road-map and you’ll get fewer ad-hoc requests.
Customers will want to join you on your exciting journey rather than make up their own.

2. Translate needs into problem statements so you understand what really needs attention.
Always understand the problem they’re trying to solve and the scale of the problem in your market.

3. Be quick and clear w...

Overloading a presentation
Overloading a presentation

Don’t overload your presentation

I’ve recently sat through the presentation of torture – a product manager with slides full of 10 point font! It was an hour of staring at the back of a the persons head as they read their own slides. I understand why this happens - nervousness. They think “I’ll never remember everything I need to say so I’ll write in it the deck as support”. But the problem when they present is that either the audience just read the slides or the presenter reads for them - both are pretty dull and completely un-engaging.

Remember, slide decks are a presentat...

Product Managers talk too much..
Product Managers talk too much..

Product, Problem or Solution managers?

I was in conversation with some sales people recently and we got on to one of the regular hot topics - product managers talk too much about product. It can sound a little weird - surely a product manager should talk about the product? But too much product focus is wrong because customers don’t really buy products. Think of it like this; the old saying in sales that ‘people buy from people’ has a product management equivalent. “People don’t buy products they buy solutions to problems”. Help sales team sell by ensuring they have clarity on th...

Luck
Luck

Luck has no place in successful product management, right?

Taking a product to market is about skills – research skills, analytical skills, communication skills, development skills, financial skills, etc, etc. There’s nothing lucky about it…… except….. sure, it takes skills to get to market, but a good product manager must make sure his team are ready to ride a lucky wave. Think of it like this - the CEO of your biggest target customer is about to pick up the phone and call one of your sales team to find out more about your new product. It’s your lucky day! But only if your team...

Managing a product post launch
Managing a product post launch

Driving a Product

We have arrived at market with momentum and successfully launched our new product, but what’s next?

Managing a product post launch is big task, we have to consider a few things:

• Which phase of the life-cycle our product sits in?

• How our product is performing in market?

• With a fully launched product, what new markets and target customers can we start to target?

There are a few things that we can do in order to drive our product.

Use marginal gains thinking to make incremental product improvements – We make lots of small improvements to our ...

How do you get ready for market?
How do you get ready for market?

How do you get ready for market? Too many product managers treat it as an afterthought – they focus on building the product and think about everything else later. And remember, we can define and build a world beating product, but it’s for nothing if the product is not “market ready”; which means taking care of naming, pricing, training, regulation, and support, etc. To fix this, we recommend using a market readiness tool and following a simple process:

1. Build the product delivery team. Invite stakeholders from across the business who have a role in the launch such as, customer del...

Managing a product
Managing a product

Managing a product is complex. We need to understand our customers, markets, competition, regulation, and more. That’s a lot to remember! To fix this, product managers keep a product plan – a document that overviews our products & markets. What does it contain?

Product - what it is and what it offers the market

Vision - how the product will develop over the next 1 to 3 years

Customers - their needs, likes & dislikes, the problems & opportunities they have

Competition – how can we differentiate our product

Financials - Scale of the market , P&L model & pricing

Risks - wi...

Agile Marketing
Agile Marketing

Does agile development require agile marketing?

Let’s have a think about this and discuss it below!

Over the past few years, agile processes have become the dominant process-type in the development and delivery of technology. Promising a level of responsiveness and customer focus. Variants of this core agile method are now commonly used for developing product across the board.

But whilst product teams have embraced the brave new world of agile, their colleagues in marketing, support, finance and other functions have not seen the relevance to them. The net result? A fragmented respon...

Develop Relationships
Develop Relationships

We can’t develop a relationship with every single one of our customers, but we still need a way of understanding them. Grouping together customers with similar problems, needs, wants or desires helps us define them.

I find this tool helpful when I’m trying to build out a persona suite for a product or service. Its helps me build proto personas (i.e. unvalidated), that I can then test against real people.

It’s a simple model:

1. Start with their wants and needs

2. Then describe how they think and feel based on those wants and needs

3. Next, what do they do about the situati...

7P's
7P's

Managing Through Product Lifecycle

Product management and innovation are intimately connected processes that require skilful interventions to maximise returns at every stage.

Milestone phases that are tackled as products move from their birth to infancy and ultimately to their maturity include:

- The Product Lifecycle
- Crossing the Chasm
- Entering the Tornado
- Sustaining and Disruptive innovation theories

Familiarity with these theories is critical for product management success. The 7Ps of the marketing mix also provides a framework for different actions that can be taken ac...

Continuously improve products
Continuously improve products

What does a Product Manager do?

Our role can be complex and difficult to describe, and product culture within company can influence our definition massively. If we don’t have a clear purpose then we run the risk of being misplaced in our business, step forward all those Product Managers who really act as sales support or project managers...

So, we define the Product Management role in this way.

“Product Managers reduce the risk of launching a product flop and increase the success of products in market”.

So, what does that mean? Well, product failure occurs in every sector....

Key Characteristics
Key Characteristics

Key Characteristics of a Good PM

It’s a question we face all the time. Mostly, when we’re helping businesses build a product management function. When recruiting experienced Product Managers, you might look for certain skills; launch skills, research skills, pricing skills, etc.

Why not look internally for those who are looking for a new challenge? They might not have the experience or skill set just yet, but do they have the core capability?

Try our quick checklist for working out if they have PM potential:

Curiosity – Do they demonstrate intellectual interest? Are they eage...

Competition
Competition

Who do you compete against? When asked, most Product Managers name other companies that are similar to them. But that’s not really the full picture. When reviewing competitive threats think about it on three levels:

1. DIRECT
These are the competitors that look a lot like your company, with similar products. Think BMW vs Mercedes vs VW/Audi – all occupy a similar space in the market with similar brand profiles, therefore, directly compete with each other in the car market.

2. INDIRECT
Sometimes the competition is less obvious. It’s more about other ways that our customers can sol...

Long term direction
Long term direction

When did you last think about the long term direction of your product? Many of us get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to look up. The risk is our product might become irrelevant as trends change market needs. So spend a few minutes thinking:

• What trends are heading towards my market that may impact what we deliver?
• How would our current product suite cope?
• What small technology, communications and regulatory steps should I take to keep my product relevant.

Remember, taking many small steps forward is easier and less risky than one giant leap. But it often gets...

44 activities to engage in
44 activities to engage in

I often describe product management as a multi-disciplinary role. To make the point here is our list of the 44 activities product managers are likely to engage in. Some daily, some rarely. Print it off, stick it on the wall and see how many you tick off. And see where the gaps in your product management skillset are.

Maintenance vs innovation
Maintenance vs innovation

Maintenance vs innovation

How do product managers balance the needs of their current product versus investing in new ideas? We’re working with a company where about 80% of development effort is directed towards product maintenance, some towards enhancements and the little bit that’s left goes to innovation. The result? A very frustrated senior management team who see a huge spend and nothing new to sell. There can be many reasons behind this (badly architected product, fixed sized dev teams, etc) but it clearly cant be sustained. Our fix? Set a target maintenance spend (say 20%) and a t...

Communication is vital
Communication is vital

Communication is a vital skill for a product manager. It might be a 5 minute elevator pitch or a full technical review. Either way you need to keep your audience engaged and interested in what you saying. Here are a few tips :

1. Tell the audience why they are there
2. Pick three major points you want to talk about and focus on those.
3. Don't overload your presentation with text and pictures.
4. Keep an eye on time. Use a parking lot to collect points that can be answered later.
5. Don't just deliver dry facts.
6. Deliver with passion.
7. Banish your nerves.

Know where you're going
Know where you're going

Knowing where you’ve come from is interesting, knowing where you’re going is critical.

Most Product Management teams I work with have some form of metric set in place – they recognise the importance of tracking product success. But I’d estimate in 80% of cases those metrics are ones that look backwards. They tell you what HAS happened and give no clue as to what might happen next – they measure things like profit, usage & revenue. This is akin to a satnav giving you numerous stats on your journey so far, but not mentioning the road ahead is closed.

We know it’s impossible to ...

Tips for delivering bad news
Tips for delivering bad news

5 tips for delivering bad news

There are times in every Product Managers career where we have to deliver bad news – a late product, a missing feature, a metric not achieved. It’s never easy, but here are my tips for delivering bad news:

Never delay - Bad news doesn’t get better with time.

Have clear reasons - You need to explain why. Be specific

Bring options and solutions - You need to show an action plan that solves or at the very least mitigates the problem as much as possible.

Write it down - Conversations can get misinterpreted.

Follow through - Track actions and k...

Interview Preparation
Interview Preparation

Recruiting and employment is a minefield of matching skill sets and personalities, finding the right people to fit into your current team or disruptive individuals that promote change.

It is difficult to find the right balance.

Finding the right fit is hard to do from looking at CV’s, and interviews don’t help to much either… ‘On my best behaviour with my best foot forward’.

You can get a sense of their skills from the CV, but this isn’t going to be a fully accurate representation of what they can provide. Really, an interview needs to realise candidates’ attitudes and p...

Mega Trend
Mega Trend

Mega trends are substantial changes that can impact any aspect of our business. Once upon a time the internet was a potential mega trend, out on the horizon, gathering strength. Some businesses saw it, built or modified their products to accommodate it, and rode the internet wave. Others weren’t so visionary and floundered as the world moved online.

How do we identify mega trends? product managers must constantly look for trends in four broad categories:

· Technology – today we see trends such as A.I or the Internet of Things gathering momentum.

· Social – think of trends such...

A Themed Roadmap
A Themed Roadmap

A themed roadmap is the perfect framework to manage your product along strategic lines. It enables long term objectives & product deliverables to be realised but can flex to meet shorter term demands or agreed variations on the importance of each product strategy.

Moreover, a Themed Roadmap is a single "view" of product strategies and deliverables that can be used in all discussion with major stakeholders as you seek to gain alignment and agreement on a complex set of future product deliverables.

Reaction to losing a deal
Reaction to losing a deal

How do you react to losing a deal?

I’ll admit that I react badly, but how should a Product Manager really react? Deal with this using GRIT.

Grieve – In my opinion good losers tend to be infrequent winners so don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Go for a run, beat a punch bag, relax in a hot bath. Whatever your way of dealing with it, give yourself a bit of time to get it out of your system.

Research - Gather as much data as you can. Gather from all sources and gather without filter or preconception.

Identify - Work out what went wrong. It’s easy to make price or product assump...

What do PM's do
What do PM's do

What does a product manager do?

Our role can be quite complex and difficult to describe. But if we don’t have a clear purpose then we run the risk of being misplaced in our business (step forward all those product managers who are really sales support or project managers, ....).

Here’s a definition that might help. “Product managers reduce the risk of launching a product flop and increase the success of products in market”. So what does that mean? Well, product failure occurs in every sector. By using a professional pm framework a product manager reduces the risk of a potential p...

Market research session
Market research session

What does a great market research session look like?

I was reminded of this with a team I recently worked with. They’re in a B2B market and are conducting early stage research on a new concept. A couple of product managers reported back that their customer visit had gone well. A deeper dive and it was clear that what they really meant was that the customer hadn’t asked any tough questions and so the meeting had been a breeze. This is bad news for the product; interested customers always ask difficult questions (date, price, detail). Think of these as buying signals – if they don’t a...

pricing - the right ball park
pricing - the right ball park

Want to quickly check if your pricing is in the right ball park? Then answer three questions:

1. Is the price higher than the unit cost – we don’t want to lose money every time we sell

2. Is the price lower that the (perceived or tangible) delivered customer value – customers won’t buy if your product doesn’t represent fair value

3. Is the price broadly equivalent to comparable offers in the market – if price expectations are already set, customers will be unwilling to move far from that price

For the mathematically inclined, this turns into a simple

model for sanity...

Explain Simply
Explain Simply

I’m going to get this printed on a t-shirt and give it to the next product manager who starts by telling me their product is complex to explain! Part of the art of great product management is making the complex as simple to understand as possible. Want to test you or your team on simplicity? Then try this; describe your new product offer/feature in 30 seconds or less to a group who are in your market. Wait 10 minutes and the ask them to describe your product offer. Did they remember it? If not, that’s your problem, not theirs.

A Product plan is the nucleus!
A Product plan is the nucleus!

A Product plan is the nucleus of your product! It takes a lot of work to complete but it helps to align cross-functional teams and provides all the information available about your product, from hard market research to detailed financial models.

It’s time to present your product plan in order to bring teams in-line with your product. And all that hard work could be for nothing if you get this wrong and fail to communicate your message clearly. You have to be sure that the review team are going to understand, the product, the vision and all the key ancillaries that surround your product.
...

Personal attributes PM
Personal attributes PM

What to look for in a Product Manager

I was asked recently to define the qualities or attributes of my best Product Manager hires. This is my list, what is yours?

• You’re curious – You have a natural born curiosity and are eager to learn and understand. You always ask ‘Why?’.

• You have great people skills – You can influence and inspire through your passion, drive and credibility. People want to work with you.

• You make things happen – You’re a doer as well as a thinker. You solve problems. ‘Proactive’ defines you because you want to a difference

• Y...

Impact - getting a product wrong
Impact - getting a product wrong

The impact of getting a product wrong

You can get a product wrong in many ways - badly designed, poorly build, doesn’t solve any specific need, too expensive etc....

We often think of the cost of the mistake in relation to the product - x million in development effort has been wasted, but the cost is much bigger than that. Think of it from a brand perspective. If a company delivers a bad product then customers don’t just reject the product, but they become wary of brand. An example from two brands- Alfa Romeo and Porsche; Alfa have a history of highs and lows. Sometimes they delight,...

Marketing, get the message right
Marketing, get the message right

When should product managers engage with marketing to get the message right?

All too often, product marketing is an afterthought; we see many cases where teams don’t engage with marketing until late in a delivery cycle. And then they’re disappointed when the collateral, the positioning, the imagery and the core message don’t hit the mark.

My advice? Engage early. Really early. Get the marketing team involved at the ideation stage – at the very least they can help identify USPs, more likely they’ll add real value to the discussion and ultimately help drive a better product to m...

The value chain
The value chain

Who is your customer?

As product managers, we often think of our customer as the person or business that uses our product – the end user. But it’s often more complex than that. Reaching that end user often means working with other teams – sales, support, third party resellers, etc. The point is this; If those intermediary teams do not see the value in your product, you’ll never get to the end user. It’s best considered as a value chain – you’re at one end, the end user is at the other. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If the sales team don’t understand it or ...

The Innovator
The Innovator

Finding the innovator

Driver-less cars. Love them or hate them, it feels like we are moving towards a future where automation will at the very least reduce driver engagement. But how will this market grow and form? It’s easy to get caught in the hype at the consumer end of the driver-less revolution and envisage the everyday commuter ‘driving’ to work eating breakfast, shaving, reading email. But as product managers we know that most markets form around innovators with big problems to solve.

Q: Who has the biggest problem that driver-less technology can solve?

A: Logistics compa...

prioritise features
prioritise features

How do you prioritise features?

A common issue for Product Managers – they have a list of features and they need to make the call about which gets built first. The issue being that each feature is important to some customers.

Here’s a simple tool to help. Don’t start with the feature, start at the market end – prioritise your segments from most to least important (this could be based on value, growth , access, profits, etc). Then prioritise the people in those markets (for example, who controls the budget, or acts as the technical gatekeeper). Only when you’ve done this do you ...

nucleus of your product!
nucleus of your product!

A Product plan is the nucleus of your product! It takes a lot of work to complete but it helps to align cross-functional teams and provides all the information available about your product, from hard market research to detailed financial models.

It’s time to present your product plan in order to bring teams in-line with your product. And all that hard work could be for nothing if you get this wrong and fail to communicate your message clearly. You have to be sure that the review team are going to understand, the product, the vision and all the key ancillaries that surround your product.
...

Agile updates & delivery
Agile updates & delivery

Agile Updates and Delivery

Agile delivery of product requirements and updates allows teams to maintain momentum and focus. Each sprint cycle within the agile world gives you a package update that is customer ready every 30 days, great!

But just because we work agile within the company setting doesn’t mean our customers want these updates delivered at the same rate.

We have to think about our customer base and the types of customers we deliver our product to, if we have customers working in a highly regulated sector then we have to be very considerate as to the frequency of updates t...

Thinking of product retirement??
Thinking of product retirement??

Many Product Managers spend very little time at the retirement end of the Product Management discipline. Consequently, it’s an area where many teams have limited process or procedure. But remember, a bad product withdrawal can impact future product introductions – would you buy a new product from a company that had let you down with a previous product retirement? As with many things PM, the key is to step back and think a little. If you have a product that you’re thinking of withdrawing or replacing or retiring, spend 15 minutes answering these six questions before diving into a retireme...

Dealing with new ideas
Dealing with new ideas

How do you deal with new ideas?

“We have loads of news ideas!” Sounds like a great place to be, but for many Product Managers the stress of managing those ideas is formidable – ideas from sales teams “I can sell 100% more if you add these features” to managers “We need this new product to dominate market X”, to technical teams “We can build AI capability to enhance our product”, etc….

When the next person walks up to your desk with another great idea, whip out the innovation canvas. Fifteen minutes of effort, ten questions long, helps you understand what’s worth tak...

Persona mistake
Persona mistake

The most common persona mistake?

The last few years has seen an increasing use of Personas and User Journeys across Product Management teams. They give us great insight and help us define products that truly meet customer needs. However, I see a common mistake; personas are so often focused solely on the end user. End users are important but they’re not the whole story – those end users won’t get to use your product if it does not make sense to the full value chain. Take a new credit card as an example; Banks would need to offer it and Merchants would need to accept it before consumer...

What is a Roadmap?
What is a Roadmap?

Product Managers are often requested to build out a roadmap. Our first response should be ‘Which Roadmap?’. We identify three roadmaps:

1. The Visionary Roadmap – A broad brush view of where your products need to go over the next 5/10 years based on market mega trends. It sets the direction of travel.

2. The Product Roadmap – It takes the vision and breaks it down into tangible customer deliveries . It defines how value will be delivered and identifies the major landmarks on our journey to our vision

3. The Technical Roadmap – It adds detail. It describes how we get to each ...

IKEA effect
IKEA effect

Could you be suffering from the IKEA effect

The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which we place a disproportionately high value on products that we build regardless of the quality. Does your product really need a replacement strategy or a retirement plan, but you’re just too attached, and remember all the blood sweat and tears that went into it?

How to measure a PM?
How to measure a PM?

How do you measure product managers?

It’s a regular question - how should I assess a product manager? My view is a simple one - don’t assess what they do, assess what they help the business achieve. There are three things that an effective product manager can help a business achieve:

These are valuable to the business and define the value of product management to the organisation.

Defining Product Success
Defining Product Success

How do you define product success?

How would you define product success? Revenue? Profit? Volume? The point is this; product success comes in many flavours that do not always directly link to a simple financial metric. A product portfolio can often be thought of as a team, where products perform different roles. Think of HP – printers make ink sales possible. Or google; its search engine is an enabler for its AdWords business. Like a soccer team would not be great if it was made up of 11 strikers, a product portfolio needs balance.

So when looking at what constitutes product success, ...

Product Managers major tasks
Product Managers major tasks

What are the major tasks for a Product Manager?

We’ve built this framework that describes what we need to think about throughout the product delivery process. The 5D process defines the point in the delivery cycle (From Direct, where we set product strategy, to Drive, where we use marginal gain to enhance our in-market product), and the blocks beneath describe the major activities. The framework is a useful tool to make sure you’re not missing anything major on your journey to Product Management Excellence!

Boris the Product Manager
Boris the Product Manager

Boris the Product Manager

Good to see that here in the UK Boris Johnson sees the route out of the Coronavirus lockdown being guided by that classic Product Management tool; a roadmap. So, for our Prime Minister, here’s some helpful roadmap hints:

Roadmaps come in three flavours:

1. The Visionary Roadmap – A broad brush view of where you need to go. It sets the direction of travel. For Boris, I guess this is pretty simple to describe in the form of strategy strands; Lockdown over, business back to normal, people travelling, pubs open, etc

2. The Product Roadm...

Retire a product
Retire a product

How should you retire a product?

Before starting a product retirement we use these six questions to check if retirement is something that should be considered – a set of basic checks to clarify why you’re retiring a product and what it will mean to you, your customers and your competition.

Naming a product
Naming a product

What’s in a name?

Our name gives all sorts of clues as to who we are, where we came from, our gender, our age, etc. The same’s true with product naming. What we call our product, service or business can have significant impact on its success and position (Think Easyjet and you have a business name that can’t be exclusive and high-end). Then there are local language issues (Think Mitsubishi Pajero in South America), search engine optimisation problems, (call it something so common it will be on page 5 of the search results or so complex and no-one will be able to spell it), etc. Here...

Competitive Landscape
Competitive Landscape

Here’s a tool to help Product Managers assess their competitive landscape . Based on the fact that customers buy or use products for a set of reasons, it takes value proposition thinking and gives more depth and detail.

Here’s how to use it:

1. Define a set of factors that drive use and adoption of your product or service. For example, what a guest books a hotel room they will consider price, but they’ll also think about location, facilities, rating, etc

2. Prioritise these factors from most to least important from the customer perspective

3. Plot your product in terms of ex...

Project vs Product
Project vs Product

Project manager and Product manager.

Our names are almost the same, so what’s the difference in these roles?
A project manager focuses on the project - making sure we deliver on time, on budget, on quality, etc.
A product manager focuses on the product - making sure the features and functions map to market needs.
We need each other to work well

Business case buildiing
Business case buildiing

Building the business case is like doing a maths exam

“Build a business case”. A request many product managers hear when looking for funding for a new product or enhancement. But what do we mean by business case? Many take it to be some financials – a set of numbers to validate that by spending X we’ll gain Y (and hopefully Y is bigger than X!). But the financials are really just the business case summary. The rest of the document tells the full story – why we should build, what our market looks like, etc. It builds the narrative that makes the numbers believable. Think of it like...

Disinter-mediation - change
Disinter-mediation - change

Disinter-mediation is driving change

There’s a theme amongst many of our customers at the moment – when they look forward 5 years they see a radically different market as technology reduces the need for intermediaries between producers and consumers. This can be seen in many sectors; banking (p2p), legal (e-conveyancing) , finance (robotic accounting). Known generally as disinter-mediation, this trend generates risk and opportunity for Product Managers. But how should we react? The key is to understand who your customers are today and who they will be tomorrow – disinter-mediation doe...

Pain points vs Delivering value
Pain points vs Delivering value

Sometimes the point of difference you have over a competitor has nothing to do with the product and all to do with an adjacent pain point you can address. Simple example, two companies supply house bricks to the construction industry. Their bricks are identical in every way. Which would the house builder choose? Conventional logic says “the cheapest” and both businesses would engage in a price war. But step away from the product and think about the bigger picture. House builders can have a real pain point around cash-flow – address that and you unlock a point of difference. Charging more...

Health Check
Health Check

PM health check

How do you review the maturity of a PM function? We use a 360 review:

• People
Without the right team in place it’s impossible to excel. We review the team through capability (Do they have the potential to be a great PM?), skills (Do they have the right PM experience?) and scale (Is there enough of them?)

• Processes
We review the full process, reporting, RACI, etc, viewing the process in terms of fit to your business (Risk vs reward vs scale vs speed vs certainty vs evidence vs innovation)

• Tools.
Without standardisatio...

Features
Features

Managing feature parity

Three customers I’m working with at the moment all have the same core issue; they’re going through a platform rewrite and are struggling with feature parity – thinking that the new product should offer EVERYTHING that the old product offered and more on day one. The start point is often bad customer- communication “Of course the new platform will deliver everything that the old one did” followed by blind panic at the realisation that feature parity will take years. Here are our tips for dealing with this:

• Find your new platform USP and make that the ...

Customer Research - making sense
Customer Research - making sense

Making sense of customer research

So you’re conducting some customer research in the b2b world, trying to figure out if that new product idea is something your customers will buy and use. But how can you tell? You present your slide deck and they seem positive – but does that mean they will buy? This is a typical product management issue – trying to interpret customer reaction and turn it in to a revenue forecast. Here’s a simple tip. When you present your new idea hold three pieces of information back:

1. The price

2. The delivery date

3. Some integration details

Custom...

Value Propositions
Value Propositions

Four tips for building outstanding Value Propositions

Building a really compelling value proposition is central to great Product Management – a great product needs great messaging to thrive in a market.

So how do we do it? The start point is to use a framework like the one in the image below, complete it, and then review it with these four simple rules:

1. Does it clearly identify a targetable market?
Know who you’re aiming at

2. Does it define a real and substantial need in that market?
Fix a problem they want you to fix

3. Is there clarity in the proposition and the valu...

Marketing mix
Marketing mix

Beating commoditization

Many Product Managers struggle with a ‘me too’– they believe that their product has no discernible point of difference, so price is the only point they can win on. It’s true that commonization at a feature level is a fact of life for some teams, but that does not mean price is the only difference left. Think about your own purchasing experience – product is important, but so is service, brand, availability, etc. The point is, people buy and use products for a range of factors and Product Managers should try and find points of difference across that range....

Growth – Who’s job is it?
Growth – Who’s job is it?

Growth is something we are all familiar with. But are we fully aware of where the responsibility of growth lies?

We all get set our own targets to hit, but growth is more than just a target. Being able to produce the capability of growth, and with that – large scale growth, is a different thing entirely. Growth has become a fundamental of the product itself and therefore a lot of the responsibility lies with the product manager.

So, where does growth start? First, it’s important to note that as a product manager, growth starts with the vision - How big are you looking at the opport...

Time to focus!
Time to focus!

Is this the right time to be thinking about strategy and planning for the future?

We are facing an uphill battle together, all of us are in the same position with current guidelines, and maybe this gives us some time to make sure we are up-to-date with strategy planning and product plans.

It’s important to that these things are always kept updated but we often cut these jobs quickly in order to respond, tactically, to other issues and responsibilities.

So before saying no to plan updates and strategic thinking ask yourself:

- Can I delegate some of these tactical responses to s...

Worth of remote working
Worth of remote working

Proving the worth of the remote working.

With the adjustment to remote working being fresh for some, and adapting to full working weeks at home is a big change for most. We need to use this opportunity to create something positive, and that should be the benefit of working from home more regularly!

What benefits can come from remote working?

- Better work/life balance

- Higher productivity rate, if done well!

- More down time to relax and less travel time.

- Which feeds into being even more productive!!

These a just some of the shared benefits between employer and employ...

Working from home
Working from home

Across the globe offices, buildings and many public places are closing voluntarily or have been asked to closed. the main thing is everyone is pulling together to do there bit to ensure we are all as safe as possible!

With risk comes opportunity, and this takes us to the point and case of today blog. Many of us find ourselves in the position of working from home, and whilst this might be common practice for some of us, once or twice a week, but it can be a strange concept to adjust to.

Remote working has become more accessible and with it, created more debate around the topic. With tha...

Part 2 - Product Culture
Part 2 - Product Culture

The Product Manager is the person responsible for defining the Why? When and What? of the product that the engineering team builds. It is an important organisational role that:

- Sets the vision and strategy for the business solutions

- Communicates the roadmap

- Defines the feature definition for a product or product line.

- The position may also include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. In many ways, the role of a Product Manager is similar in concept to being a CEO of a solution.

Product Managers provide the deep product expertise needed to l...

Part 1 - Product Culture
Part 1 - Product Culture

Getting product culture in your organisation

Through the many years of working with different companies, it is amazing how many people say the product sells itself. Yet the truth in many cases is:

- The solution has cost far more than it had to, because they didn’t truly understand their market needs, so compensated by building everything a customer wants.

- Had no control on costs and this means no control on profit.

- The price normally was too low, as no understanding of the competition or value.

- The product was not used to its full potential, so customers didn’t under...

Personas Part 2
Personas Part 2

Importance of persona’s Part 2

Benefits of Persona Development
Don’t think Personas are worth the trouble, think again

Benefits:

· Personas give stakeholders an opportunity to discuss critical features of a redesign: Using Personas to walk stakeholders through common interactions unveils frustrations and pain-points that will help clarify actual user priorities over the stakeholder’s personal wish list.

· They help team members share a consistent understanding of the user group: They take data and make the stories more compelling and fun, thus making them easier to remembe...

Personas Part 1
Personas Part 1

The importance of Personas Part 1

A “Persona” is a fictional representation of an actual user and is applied in the early stages of product development or product redesign. Personas are vital to the success of a product because they drive design decisions by taking common user needs and bringing them to the forefront of planning before design has actually started. Personas provide the team with a shared understanding of users in terms of goals and capabilities.

We use a persona map to efficiently store all of the information of our personas. The canvas is split into sections – Give...

Product Communications
Product Communications

Leaders of Product Management often ask how to get their team to be better product communicators - to be able to get their message across well. My response is to ask one simple question “When did you last ask the team about value propositions?”. Here are some simple tips to drive better product communications:

1. Be value proposition obsessed

Test the team regularly by getting them to present the following:

• Elevator pitch
• Five minute overview
• Product vision
• Value proposition
• Objection handling

2. Measure communications effectiveness

• E.g. does the ...

Strategizing
Strategizing

Leaders of Product Management are often concerned that their team are all tactics and no strategy. The question asked is “How do I make product managers more strategy focused”. The answer often lies with the manager – teams focus on what they’re measured, rewarded and questioned on.

So if you want your team to think more strategically here are some simple tips:

1. Set an objective for building a vision – if they have it as an objective, it’s more likely to happen.

2. Talk strategy – if you only ever talk to your team about short term, urgent issues, they’ll only focus...

Systems/Requirements Engineering
Systems/Requirements Engineering

In Systems engineering and Requirements engineering, a non-functional requirement is a requirement that specifies criteria that can be used to judge the operation of a system, rather than specific behaviours.

For example: Scalability, Accessibility, Capacity. However, it should be about more than this in a SaaS world!

From an Architecture perspective, you need to get this right or you will have heavy costs fixing issues in the future. More importantly you should be setting out what your expectations of the overall customer experience looks like.

When thinking of your NFR’s, think a...

Identifying a good PM
Identifying a good PM

How do you identify a good Product Manager?

I'm constantly asked what makes a great Product Manager. In my experience, a strong Product Manager is the CEO of their solution and gets involved in all aspects from inception to launch, and then in-life management. Due to this I am a strong believer in ‘Hire for attitude, train for skill’. If someone has the right behaviours, then you can teach them the skills to be a great product manager.

My approach to interviewing is firstly to understand their personality, so:

1) Can they fit into the team dynamic? (disruption of the ‘status quo...

Be the CEO of your Products!
Be the CEO of your Products!

Product Strategy

I have worked with many CEO’s who say the trouble with strategising is they don’t see any action! People can procrastinate around strategy and in many cases, boards are reluctant to spend money, if there are any questions unanswered, or like Donald Rumsfeld said, “known unknowns”.

However, like a lot of situations in business, what is the right amount of information to make a decision? You cannot know everything at the beginning and like the rest of the product process you will continue to iterate the strategy as you have more information and realign.

A strate...

Forgetting Usage Analytics
Forgetting Usage Analytics

Why do people forget usage analytics?

According to McKinsey, if a software company grows at only 20%, it has a 92% chance of ceasing to exist within a few years.

This means that software companies - particularly SaaS companies - must look at every advantage possible to stay alive in an ever-competitive market, remember it is the small margins that can be the deciding factor as to how successful you are.

Customer analytics can be just one way that gives you that competitive edge. Whether it is measuring retention, product usage, or on-boarding, SaaS businesses must have comprehensive d...

Drive - 5
Drive - 5

Five of five - Drive

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time timeframe, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s finish with Drive – Continuously improve your product to push growth as much as possible. Aim for your product to perform well whilst in the maturity phase of its lifecycle.

For the Drive phase the main objectives a...

Deliver - 4
Deliver - 4

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time timeframe, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s continue with Deliver – the stage in which we look to go to market with our product.

For the Deliver phase the main objectives are:

• Launch with momentum
• Begin generating revenue with your product
• Use the most appropriate l...

Define - 3
Define - 3

Three of five - Define

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time timeframe, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s continue with Define – translating the best opportunities into business cases and user stories.

The next step is to do a deep dive – clearly understand the market need, translate it for our development and deliv...

Discover - 2
Discover - 2

Two of five - Discover

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time time frame, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s continue with Discover – assessing new ideas

Into the product management world comes with huge numbers of ideas. These ideas range in scope and type; new products, new markets, enhancements, pricing initiatives...

Direct - 1
Direct - 1

One of five - Direct

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time timeframe, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s start with Direct – setting the product vision.

Imagine stepping on a plane and the Captain announces “Not sure where we’re going today, we’ll just take off and fly and see where we end up”. Pretty unnerving...

Pricing Strategy
Pricing Strategy

Pricing is a strategy, not just a number Too many product teams treat pricing as an afterthought - they come up with a number some time near launch when asked “how much is it?”. Pricing should be something we start thinking about at ideation and build a strategy for through to launch. Think of products such as the HP inkjet - it’s priced using a penetration and premium model (printers are low price to penetrate the market, ink is high price to generate profit). This pricing model directs design decisions (e.g. make printers with different ink cartridge design to protect the market from a...

Do Product Management have power
Do Product Management have power

???

A question that comes up frequently on the basis that we often have significant responsibility for our product. So, don’t we need enough authority to execute our responsibilities? The short answer is no - product management is a role of influence rather than direct control. We influence leadership teams to invest in products, right the way through to influencing sales teams to focus on our product. So how do we gain influence? Through evidence - coherent and compelling market research. Want to secure that 7 figure investment from your leadership team? Compelling evidence is what it ta...

Marginal Improvement
Marginal Improvement

I recently worked with a team who had a 5% market share and falling vs a competitor at 35%. Simple question – what should they have done? To answer this Product Managers first need to establish how competitive their product offer is. It’s very easy to think the competition is too far ahead by looking simply at market share, but that’s not always the full picture – it could be that the competitor is marginally better, and that marginal advantage turns into market dominance (i.e. most customers choose the competitor because it’s ever so slightly better). So before throwing your product...

Maintaining business cases
Maintaining business cases

Maintaining a business case

How many of us build out a business case to get our product funded and then simply forget it? It worth remembering that the business case changes as conditions change; customers, markets, competition, risks, numbers, etc all can change. To build the business case once and then forget it is to neglect this fundamental of change. And if we build the business case and forget it, we’re building a product for historical market conditions – what our markets used to look like.

Simple product management tip – make a habit of reviewing your business case and upda...

Product Funnel
Product Funnel

Building the product funnel

Sales team often think of sales pipeline – a tool that enables them to describe where customers are in the sales process from initial contact through to closed. It helps the sales manager build a robust forecast, track progress within the sales team and give an early indicator of issues – no new leads in the pipeline won’t affect this quarter but will impact the next. Product managers can adopt this technique too – building a product funnel that helps them visualise how their product is tracking. Think of building a suite of metrics that don’t just meas...

Growth and it's importance
Growth and it's importance

Why is growth so important?

We all want our business to grow, but how important is it? Growth is much more than a nice-to-have. It’s a fundamental for success; competition is a daily reality and without growth, you are offering opportunities for others to establish in your markets. Think of it like this, over 20,000 tech businesses were registered across Europe last year alone. That’s 20,000 more reasons to grow before they start to take a share of your business. Growing isn’t about greed, it’s about survival.

Life-cycle
Life-cycle

You can’t size a product opportunity without knowing about Life-cycle

A recurring theme in my world is a frustration in many organisations about their inability to forecast. It’s pretty obvious why we need to do this – if you can’t scale an opportunity then you can’t right-size the organisation. But I constantly meet teams where the forecast is orders of magnitude wrong. Fundamental to this is lack of understanding life-cycle – a model that describes how a market turns on and off over time as different types of users buy in to your product. The main point being that a market is ...

What does a Product Manager do?
What does a Product Manager do?

It’s a question we’ve answered many times before, but this was presented to me a while ago and I thought it was a great way of simply describing our job. We sit at the interface of customers, technology and our company, and we try to deliver solutions that meet a real customer need whilst addressing both the goals of the business and tech capability. Put simply, we solve market needs while achieving business goals.

Team Skills
Team Skills

We often talk about what the ideal product manager has in terms of skills. But on a more practical level, we need to make the most of the team we have - optimise their skills to meet the needs of our business. To help, we use our team planning tool and follow four steps:

1. Work out the priorities for your team – what do the team need to deliver over the next 12 months?

2. Define the skills needed to help deliver on the priorities – it will only be a subset of the full Product Management skillset

3. Build the skills curves. Work out how capable each team member is vs the skill. Bu...

Make the first ten words count!
Make the first ten words count!

Getting your message across

I’m working with a team on messaging this week. I’m struck by how complicated many product managers make their message – I often have to spend an hour trawling through brochures and slides to get any sense of their product and I’m told ‘it’s complicated’ . Think of this from a customer perspective – if your product doesn’t grab their attention immediately then they’ll move on – they’re busy people with a thousand other things to do. To fix this, think of a newspaper article – great content is wasted if there isn’t a compelling headline...

Launch your solution
Launch your solution

When do you start to launch your solution?

You are delivering a solution not just a product. A lot of companies make the mistake that they are purely building products and as soon as they are ready, then they can release. But the solution is larger than this, it is scaling your delivery and support teams are ready. This includes:

- Consultants prepared
- Marketing campaigns understood. Advocates ready to help with communication, organise your PR
- Sales enablement complete and sales teams trained
- Support Desk trained and the SLA’s (Service Level agreements) and OLA’s (Operationa...

solving small customer problems
solving small customer problems

How much of your customers day is consumed with activities that involve your product or service?

Imagine you build a successful product that help shopkeepers manage inventory. A typical train of thought for the Product Manager looking for growth is “Who else has an inventory problem that I can sell to”. This is completely valid, but you could also look for growth by answering a different question “What else keeps shopkeepers busy?”. The downside of this is pretty obvious – you’ll need new products to meet the new needs you identify. But before you discount it, think about the co...

Staying ahead of our competitors
Staying ahead of our competitors

How can we as Product Managers use marginal gain to ensure we always stay ahead of our competitors ?

First gaining prominence with Sir Dave Brailsford, Performance Director for Team Sky, the UK’s professional cycling team, he pushed the team to search for the 1% in hundreds of tiny areas that were overlooked by their competitors: they looked at more obscure areas such as taking their favourite pillows on tour to get the best night’s sleep and teaching riders how to wash their hands to avoid illness and time off training. They were relentless in their pursuit of marginal gains and it pai...

NO quickly and cleanly
NO quickly and cleanly

Getting to ‘no’

Sales teams often talk about ‘getting to yes’, but for Product Managers I’d argue that getting to ‘no’ is just as important when managing new ideas. In fact, getting to ‘no’ quickly and cleanly is a really useful skill. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen products blown off course by deals being won that created more distraction than dollars – dev teams burning huge resource to try and fit what’s been sold into what’s already been built.

The key to rejection is to act quickly (wait too long and expectation builds) and logically (sa...

Product Management potential
Product Management potential

Question: How can you spot Product Management potential? You know the type of scenario – that person who’s doing a great job in support/presales/etc is looking for a move, has no Product Management background, but do they have potential? Here are the six attributes to look for:

Curiosity - Has a natural curiosity for the product and eager to dive into the details (technology, markets, regulation, customers, competitors, etc).

An influencer - Is an Influencing and inspiring individual who is through their charismatic attitude able to drive and lead progress whilst creating a positive ...

Presentation OVERLOAD
Presentation OVERLOAD

Don’t overload you presentation

I recently sat through a presentation torture – a product manager with slides full of 10 point font! It was an hour of staring at the back of a the persons head as they read their own slides. I understand why this happens - nervousness. They think “I’ll never remember everything I need to say so I’ll write in it the deck as support”. But the problem when they present is that either the audience just read the slides or the presenter reads for them - both are pretty dull and completely unengaging.

Remember, slide decks are a presentation aid, the...

The right language
The right language

Talking the right language

Ever feel your message isn’t getting through to your customer? It could be that the message is wrong, but often it’s not the message, but the delivery – language that doesn’t resonate with your target market. Here’s a simple example; you want to encourage your children to exercise more. Which statement is more likely to work: ‘ Shall we go for a long ride on our bikes to improve our cardiovascular fitness’ or

‘Let’s see who can get muddiest on the canal path!

’’Simple rule of product management – when you talk to your customers, speak...

‘It’s not about the bike
‘It’s not about the bike

Lance Armstrong once wrote a book entitled ‘it’s not about the bike’. Turned out there was more truth in that title than we’d imagined, but ‘It’s not about the product’ would be a good product management book title.

Working with a new team recently on a go to market plan and they were surprised how much of product management is not about the product. It’s so true. Think about a launch plan - it shines a light on this and shows that to launch well you must have a product, but you also need legals, messaging, sales plans, support, pricing, etc. Great products need lots of roun...

Footsteps
Footsteps

We’re a few weeks into the new year – just long enough for those ambitious plans we had for our product in the new year to start unravelling as the daily grind takes hold. How can Product Managers remain on track when we’re overwhelmed with work? The trick is to divide and conquer – complex, difficult, or overwhelming tasks are made up of many simple and easy steps. So don’t dwell on that huge product launch today to the point it overwhelms, tackle some simple steps that move you a little closer. Concentrate on the next footstep, not the mountain.

Importance of Product Partners
Importance of Product Partners

For many software companies there is a real challenge in continuing to develop software in keeping pace with changes in the sector. To be successful, you need a business strategy that makes sure you meet the needs of customers in your target market . . . and it’s here where Product Partners play a crucial role.

Product Partners are different to straightforward channel re sellers who include your software in a portfolio of other solutions to sell to their target market. Instead, Product Partners have created software of their own which adds value to your existing solution. They can help yo...

6 of 6
6 of 6

This week I’m going to step through how you can build a feature driven roadmap from a high level vision. I’ll do this through the example of Uber. We’re now on step 6:

1. Define your Elevator Epic.

2. Identify the stakeholders involved in your epic.

3. Prioritise your stakeholders

4. Define the factors that drive their behaviours

5. Define the goals that support each factor.

6. Describe the need that results from the goal

Finally, we identify the needs behind each goal. Our Uber business user might want autogenerated receipts to make expense submission easier.

So ...

5 of 6
5 of 6

This week I’m going to step through how you can build a feature driven roadmap from a high level vision. I’ll do this through the example of Uber. We’re now on step 5:

1. Define your Elevator Epic.

2. Identify the stakeholders involved in your epic.

3. Prioritise your stakeholders

4. Define the factors that drive their behaviours

5. Define the goals that support each factor.

6. Describe the need that results from the goal

For each factor we think through the goals – What our customer is trying to achieve with that aspect of our service. For example, a business user...

4 of 6
4 of 6

This week I’m going to step through how you can build a feature driven roadmap from a high level vision. I’ll do this through the example of Uber. We’re now on step 4:

1. Define your Elevator Epic.

2. Identify the stakeholders involved in your epic.

3. Prioritise your stakeholders

4. Define the factors that drive their behaviours

5. Define the goals that support each factor.

6. Describe the need that results from the goal

Next we define factors that drive their behaviour. For each stakeholder group there will be reasons that make them more or less likely to use your ...

2,3 of 6
2,3 of 6

his week I’m going to step through how you can build a feature driven roadmap from a high level vision. I’ll do this through the example of Uber. We’re now on step 2 & 3:

1. Define your Elevator Epic.

2. Identify the stakeholders involved in your epic.

3. Prioritise your stakeholders

4. Define the factors that drive their behaviours

5. Define the goals that support each factor.

6. Describe the need that results from the goal

Once we’ve define our Elevator epic using the Value proposition framework, we think about who is involved – the stakeholders. This is more t...

1 of 6
1 of 6

This week I’m going to step through how you can build a feature driven roadmap from a high level vision. I’ll do this through the example of Uber. There are six steps to cover:

1. Define your Elevator Epic.

2. Identify the stakeholders involved in your epic.

3. Prioritise your stakeholders

4. Define the factors that drive their behaviours

5. Define the goals that support each factor.

6. Describe the need that results from the goal

The first step is pretty simple for a Product Management team. We define our Elevator epic using the Value proposition framework. It should ...

Market Shift
Market Shift

Does your Market Disappear or Shift?

The ‘decline of the high-street’ has been regular news for the what seems like forever. Few weeks go by without another casualty hitting the headlines. Talking with a group who are dealing with this got me thinking - is it market decline or market shift?

Take Blockbuster for example, they filed for bankruptcy, blaming a declining market. In reality, their market was larger than ever, it had just shifted towards the online & digital space.

So, what can we learn from this? Sure, some markets disappear, but most shift. And these shifts cause dis...

Product Timeline
Product Timeline

Building out a vision is tough. Working out how to deliver is even tougher! We’ve built a one page canvas that helps:-

1. Define your three year goals for your product

2. Think of annual initiatives or themes for years 1, 2 and 3 that drive to that goal

3. Break the annual initiative down into quarterly points of value

It breaks a big problem down into smaller, bite sized steps.

How are you currently dealing with planning your product's future?

Product, Problem, Solution?
Product, Problem, Solution?

Product, Problem or Solution managers?

I was in conversation with some sales people recently and we got on to one of the regular hot topics - product managers talk too much about product. It can sound a little weird - surely a product manager should talk about the product? But too much product focus is wrong because customers don’t really buy products. Think of it like this; the old saying in sales that ‘people buy from people’ has a product management equivalent. “People don’t buy products they buy solutions to problems”. Help sales team sell by ensuring they have clarity on th...

How often is too often?
How often is too often?

How often is too often to release a product?

Recently working with a team, we got to a common agile conundrum; core to the agile process is the concept of frequent, iterative product releases. This is often seen as nothing but positive by many teams “You can release product updates every 7 days!”, but there are many markets where this makes no sense at all. For instance, your customer is a bank and your product has security implications – the iterative agile model simply can’t operate in that world. So is agile the wrong process for these types of products? Not necessarily. The agil...

characteristics
characteristics

What are the characteristics of a good product manager?

It’s a question we face when we’re helping businesses build a product management function. If you’re recruiting experienced Product Managers then you might look for skills – launch skills, research skills, pricing skills, etc. But what about that person sat in support who is looking for a new challenge? They might not have the skills just yet, but do the have the core capability? Here’s our quick checklist for working out if they have pm potential

Curiosity – Do they demonstrate intellectual interest? Are they eager to l...

Prod Mgnt in tech organisations?
Prod Mgnt in tech organisations?

Where does Product Management belong in Tech organisations?

As Tech companies grow and the nature of technology evolves into the world of SaaS and apps, there’s often confusion around where Product Management should sit in the organisation.

Traditional consumer organisations have a tendency to consider Product Management in the same arena as Marketing or Development. The problem here is that the Product Managers can get tied up in functionality or market communications. This means no-one is engaging with customers to understand their problems or looking ahead and strategising as to wha...

How do you track product success
How do you track product success

???

Product Managers need to be able describe if the product they launched was successful, typically in metric form. Simple idea, but difficult to do. Whether you’re an OKR or KPI or SMART fan, it’s important to think in terms of lag and lead. Some metrics lag – think revenue. It’s critical, but if that’s all you quantity then there’s very little action you can take at the point that the metric becomes measurable. Other metrics lead – think pilot customer or launch date. These give an indication that you’re on the right path. Product Managers should think of a funnel of metr...

Existing customers
Existing customers

So many organisations look at their existing customers as ‘A deal that is already done’.

Why is it that they so rarely ask how are these happy customers going to help them sell to the next group of customers?

When launching a new product, having a group of strong advocates will kick start those sales far quicker than sending out flyers or other marketing materials.

Think about what you need to do with getting the innovators on board and talking about your solution.

Don’t take your customers for granted. They could be your greatest advocate or your biggest critic. And they can...

Who is responsible?
Who is responsible?

Who is responsible for successfully launching a product?

Ever tried to build a RACI model that describes roles and responsibilities through a product delivery cycle? It often ends up as an overcomplex spreadsheet that feels more academic than real-world as we try and map out the complex world we live in. What the exercise misses is this; taking a product to market is a team sport - a group of people with expertise across the product delivery process are engaged in bringing a product to market from inception, to launch, to in-life management. They bring their expertise to the table and might...

Product Planning 2020
Product Planning 2020

Three step product planning for 2020

For many of us it’s the first day back in the office and a time crystallise our plans for 2020. It can feel a little daunting, so here is our three-point checklist of things to do to get 2020 moving! Click on the links to download the templates for each step

1. Know your product goals for 2020.
Link the strategy of the business to a set of concrete objectives for your product using the market map tool. Read about it here

https://lnkd.in/ePhQ8jR

2. Make sure you have the people and skills.
Think about the skills you’ll need in your team to...

WORKOUT 5
WORKOUT 5

WORKOUT 5 – Never skip leg day!!! Marginal gains and in-life management.

It seems to always be the thing that gets overlooked by product managers and those that teach product management. We find it more common that PM processes tend to leave out the detail of how we should manage our products once we’ve launched. More concerned about bringing new ideas to the table and getting them to launch.

We say, never skip leg day. Always be aware of how you can improve products in-life and manage the bit between launch and retirement as best as possible.

One of the most effective methods is ...

WORKOUT 4
WORKOUT 4

WORKOUT 4 – HIIT – Portfolio fit.

High intensity Interval Training is always varied with lots of different available exercises, but they all share and help in working towards the same goal! So, when looking at products that are under-performing or being developed with a view to launch… Ask yourself, do these products make sense and ultimately help towards the shared goal of the business?

How do Product Managers make the right investment decisions so that the portfolio is performing well today and will continue to perform well in the future?

We use a dashboard so that Product Man...

WORKOUT 3
WORKOUT 3

WORKOUT 3 – Chest and Tri’s – its opportunity size!

This is the area we see and always think it could be better right? Well, if you train chest effectively you attack from a lot of different angles to get the best results. With new opportunities, it’s the same concept!

Ideation management is important and being able to understand what that idea means in terms of a potential business case, means being able to accurately describe the opportunity size.

On Product Management Central we have multiple lesson that deal with the earliest stages of a product/opportunity. Take a look at...

WORKOUT 2
WORKOUT 2

WORKOUT 2 – Biceps and back – Creating a roadmap.

It’s time to pump those arms and flex that back! Roadmaps take many different forms and are used for a vast number of different applications. There are a few types of roadmaps that are crucial to any products lifecycle and management, here is an overview!

The Visionary Roadmap – A high-level view of where your products need to go over the next 5/10 years based on market mega trends. It sets the direction of travel.

The Product Roadmap – It takes the vision and breaks it down into tangible customer deliveries. It defines how v...

WORKOUT 1
WORKOUT 1

WORKOUT 1 – Boulder shoulders, We’re Creating Personas!

So, its Shoulder day at the PM Gym and Product Management Central is going to step you through a shoulder workout like no other. We are going to look at the importance of creating personas and the steps we take to make this as effective as possible.

We build out personas in order to better prioritize how and what we build into our product requirements. Personas are fictional representations of actual users, they’ll only work if you fully understand who your users are – or will be. The more information you have, the better. G...

The PM gym
The PM gym

At Tarigo we would like to invite you to join the PM Gym and exercise your product management capabilities. Be better prepared and more proficient everyday as a Product Manager by maintaining constant access to learning and training materials that mirror the content and quality of our face-to-face training.

Product Management Central is your new gym, open 24 hours, allowing you to workout each skill and task that Product Managers have to perform day in, day out. At less than half the price of the average gym membership in the UK - you’ll barely notice the cost, but you will see huge benef...

Get the message across
Get the message across

I’m a fan of simple, clear and engaging messaging. This one from the London tube worked for me. Got any favourites?

Product Vision
Product Vision

Building out a product vision can be challenging, so I thought I’d share this approach with you. We’re working with a customer who wants to build product management excellence into their team over the next three years. But what does that mean? The approach we’ve taken is to describe the future by a series of quotes – what would people say about the team in 2022. I found this to be really helpful in that it gave us some goals to drive to. I can see how we can refine it to cover a range of voices (e.g. what would customers say, what would dev say, what would competitors say, etc). Intere...

Turning strategy into action
Turning strategy into action

How does a product leader work out what skills they need in their PM team next year? We help teams take business strategy and translate it prioritized PM activities using our strategy canvas, market map, and mid the gap tools:

• Strategy Canvas – Take strategy goals and identify areas of focus that align for your product

• Market Map – Take those areas of focus and define product initiatives in five different risk categories

• Mind the Gap – Take those product initiatives and define the skills you’ll need in your PM team to effectively deliver

This gives product leade...

Have the foundations set
Have the foundations set

Marginal gain improvements to your product can be very beneficial, all of those borderline losses soon turn to wins with a better more rounded out solution.

But you have to be sure that when you lose out to a competitor that you know why.

Was it a marginal loss? Or, has your product actually missed the audience in a much bigger way?

Before you turn to the tactical marginal gain strategy, be sure that you have the foundations set.

Ask yourself:
Do you understand your audience?
And, Do you understand what your objective is?

Be sure that the answers to these question are well com...

Finding time to be strategic
Finding time to be strategic

How do you find time to be strategic?

Most product managers know they need to dedicate some of their week to thinking towards the future, but many are overwhelmed by their daily workload - constant tactical interrupts. Here are three tips to help free up some diary time

Manage your meetings - ensure all meetings have a defined purpose. And why do meeting need to be an hour? Try 15 minute stand-up meetings.

Don’t be an email grazer- Those notifications that pop up in the corner of your screen distract. You can end up email grazing - reading them, worrying about them, taking no immed...

Prioritise Communication
Prioritise Communication

We’ve just completed a survey with one of our large international customers. One question we asked leadership was ‘If you could improve just one skill area across product management, what would you choose’. Communication was the clear winner. This was described in a number of ways ‘clarity of communication’, ‘communicating bad news’, ‘making it simple’, ‘telling me what’s going on’, ‘keeping me in the loop’, ‘speaking in my language’, ‘they make it too complex’, ‘they drop to detail and miss the big picture’ ....

This resonates. Too often I meet produ...

Friction out of the Product
Friction out of the Product

Take the friction out of your product

I’m choosing a new car at the moment and I’m struck by how close it is between three options. The point is this; I’d be happy with any of the three and the decision is likely come down to friction –a salesperson being slightly more responsive, a slightly easier ordering process, something that just makes the deal a little easier to do. The same is often true for the products we manage. The difference between us and our competitors is often tiny and a little bit of friction can be the difference between a win and a loss. Think about it like this...

Persona map
Persona map

The goal of a persona is to represent the observed mindsets and behaviours of a target customer group to help us understand them better. We can’t develop a relationship with every single one of our customers, but we still need a way of understanding them. Grouping together customers with similar problems, needs, wants or desires helps us define them. Proto-personas can help product managers build a sketch- view of a customer type. We use an empathy map to understand our customer and build out a proto-persona:

1. WANTS/NEEDS – What are they trying to achieve? What targets do they have?
...

Market research point
Market research point

A small market research point today; with all research techniques we should remember that what customers do and say and think is not always consistent.

I may LIKE the yellow car. It might be my FAVOURITE colour, but I might BUY the blue car – it stays looking clean, it’s easier to sell on. It’s less risky!

So, what does this mean to us as product managers? Its means we should try and ask the same questions from many angles and look for consistency in the responses we collect.

Skills Building
Skills Building

How do you build the perfect product management team?

Here’s our five step model for skills building:

1. Know your skills – There are a huge number of activities involved in delivering great product. You need to know what those skills are before you can work out if your team has them. Tarigo has a skills matrix. Ask for one at info@tarigo.co.uk

2. Know what skills you need to focus on – What do your product managers need to excel at? It’s of limited value if you have an innovation expert trying maximise revenue from a mature product. Pick and prioritise the skills focus on.

...

Team Charter
Team Charter

Delivering complex product to market means working with multiple teams across multiple regions. It requires clear communication to keep the team on track. We use a Team Charter to fix this – a simple document that gives direction and purpose. We’d recommend spending a little bit of time upfront getting the team charter in place to reduce team tension and confusion. Turn it into a poster, put it on the wall, think of it as rules of engagement:

• The mission - What this team is going to accomplish and why.

• Scope - What is IN SCOPE and what is OUT OF SCOPE.

• Team Roles - Who...

Vision, Product, Delivery
Vision, Product, Delivery

Have you been asked to build out your road-map? First thing to remember, there really isn’t really one road-map, there’s three:

VISION – Your destination
It describes where we want your product to be. Think about:
• Market trends
• Technology developments
• Competitor strategy
• Business goals
• A 3 – 5 year planning horizon

PRODUCT – Your stopover points on the way
It describes the value you’ll deliver on the journey to reaching your vision. Think about:
• Target customer per road-map element
• Value propositions per road-map element
• Delivery date...

The MVP
The MVP

The minimum viable product (MVP) concept has been with us for decades. On the surface it makes sense; get to market quickly with a skinny version of your product that you can build on. But in reality it often fails – the MVP turns into a cheap and cheerless offer that doesn’t gain traction and doesn’t get updated. The problem is often simple – we’re trying to satisfy too many customer types with our MVP. Here’s a model we use to help with MVP thinking.

1. START WITH PERSONAS
Find a primary market and focus exclusively on that

2. PRIORITISE USER STORIES FOR THE PRIMARY MARKE...

Agile
Agile

Does agile development require agile marketing?

Over the past few years, agile processes have become the dominant process-type in the development and delivery of technology. Promising a level of responsiveness and customer focus. Variants of this core agile method are now commonly used for developing product across the board.

But whilst product teams have embraced the brave new world of agile, their colleagues in marketing, support, finance and other functions have not seen the relevance to them. The net result? A fragmented response.

Technology is delivered through regular sprint ite...

Business case maintenance
Business case maintenance

How many of us build out a business case to get our product funded and then simply forget it?

It is worth remembering that the business case changes as conditions change; customers, markets, competition, risks, numbers, etc all can change. To build the business case once and then forget it is to neglect this fundamental of change. And if we build the business case and forget it, we’re building a product for historical market conditions – what our markets used to look like.

Simple product management tip – make a habit of reviewing your business case and updating it – 15 minutes p...

Retirement canvas
Retirement canvas

Is it even important to have a strategy when you’re pulling the product, why worry? Two reasons:

? Customers - Do it badly and customers aren’t going to be knocking at your door for your next product. You lost their trust.

? Competition - Get it wrong and you leave the door wide open for competitors to enter and build their position.

Think of retirement as the mirror of market entry - do your research, build your plan, and communicate your position clearly and frequently.

We have a tool to help you decide whether retirement is the best option for your product. Step through the ...

The perfect Product Manager.
The perfect Product Manager.

What do you look for in a product manager?

We often get asked to assess a potential PM candidate. Outside of their PM knowledge, these are the attributes that I look for...

What do you look for in the perfect product manager?

Market Problem
Market Problem

Where do you find that next, great breakthrough product? One way is to turn your mindset from product innovation to problem validation. Think about it – we are all motivated to fix problems that stress us. Your customers are no different. The bigger the stress, the more motivated we are to find the fix. So step into your customers shoes and think about what keeps them awake at night. 3am problems generate successful products.

Opportunities
Opportunities

When is a good opportunity NOT a good opportunity?

When it doesn’t match capability. It’s easy for Product Managers to get carried away with an idea and forget to look into their business. That knock-out opportunity you’ve identified might simply not match your organisation. Think of it as a capability review. Does your business have the funds, technical skills, market access, reputation, reach, scale and strategy intent to address the opportunity. If not, that great new product idea has the potential to sink your business.

Product Communication in my team
Product Communication in my team

Leaders of Product Management often ask how to get their team to be better product communicators - to be able to get their message across well. My response is to ask one simple question “When did you last ask the team about value propositions?”. Here are some simple tips to drive better product communications:

1. Be value proposition obsessed

Test the team regularly by getting them to present the following:

• Elevator pitch
• Five minute overview
• Product vision
• Value proposition
• Objection handling

2. Measure communications effectiveness

• E.g. does the ...

Balancing customer needs.
Balancing customer needs.

We run a product clinic with one of our customers every week. Question of the week was this “How do I balance the needs of the loudest customers against the many?”. It’s a common issue, and here are my top tips

1. Have a compelling road-map and you’ll get fewer ad-hoc requests.

Customers will want to join you on your exciting journey rather than make up their own.

2. Translate needs into problem statements so you understand what really needs attention.

Always understand the problem they’re trying to solve and the scale of the problem in your market.

3. Be quick and cle...

Don’t overload you presentation
Don’t overload you presentation

I’ve just sat through presentation torture – a product manager with slides full of 10 point font! It was an hour of staring at the back of a the persons head as they read their own slides. I understand why this happens - nervousness. They think “I’ll never remember everything I need to say so I’ll write in it the deck as support”. But the problem when they present is that either the audience just read the slides or the presenter reads for them - both are pretty dull and completely un-engaging.

Remember, slide decks are a presentation aid, they do not tell the full story and prob...

Focus
Focus

Product, Problem or Solution managers?

I was in conversation with some sales people yesterday and we got on to one of the regular hot topics - product managers talk too much about product. It can sound a little weird - surely a product manager should talk about the product? But too much product focus is wrong because customers don’t really buy products. Think of it like this; the old saying in sales that ‘people buy from people’ has a product management equivalent. “People don’t buy products they buy solutions to problems”. Help sales team sell by ensuring they have clarity on t...

Being Prepared
Being Prepared

Luck has no place in successful product management, right?

Taking a product to market is about skills – research skills, analytical skills, communication skills, development skills, financial skills, etc, etc. There’s nothing lucky about it…… except….. sure, it takes skills to get to market, but a good product manager must make sure his team are ready to ride a lucky wave. Think of it like this - the CEO of your biggest target customer is about to pick up the phone and call one of your sales team to find out more about your new product. It’s your lucky day! But only if your tea...

9 steps
9 steps

Want to generate more new product ideas across your business? It’s about building a culture where innovation thrives.

Here’s our 9 steps:

1. Identify your creativity clusters – focus your energies on the right groups in your organisation.

2. Change the thinking from product to problem – get them thinking “what problems do our customers have that we can try and address?”

3. Guide the thinking – Share market and customer trends to inspire them

4. Make it friction-less – Make it super easy to get ideas to you. A chat forum or web app perhaps. Remove all barriers

...

Driving a Product
Driving a Product

We have arrived at market with momentum and successfully launched our new product, but what’s next?

Managing a product post launch is big task, we have to consider a few things:

• Which phase of the life-cycle our product sits in?

• How our product is performing in market?

• With a fully launched product, what new markets and target customers can we start to target?

There are a few things that we can do in order to drive our product.

Use marginal gains thinking to make incremental product improvements – We make lots of small improvements to our offering, be that pro...

Sales Battlecard
Sales Battlecard

Having our product communicated to the customer correctly is vital in generating real interest and potential revenue. It’s up to the sales team to sell the product, but if they haven’t been armed with the correct tools to communicate our product successfully we aren’t going to get the best possible results when we take our product to market.

One of the most effective tools of delivering a clear and consistent message to all our potential customers is the sales battle-card. A clear one-pager that provides the sales team with the headline information, positioned to sell and present the ...

Market Readiness
Market Readiness

How do you get ready for market? Too many product managers treat it as an afterthought – they focus on building the product and think about everything else later. And remember, we can define and build a world beating product, but it’s for nothing if the product is not “market ready”; which means taking care of naming, pricing, training, regulation, and support, etc. To fix this, we recommend using a market readiness tool and following a simple process:

1. Build the product delivery team. Invite stakeholders from across the business who have a role in the launch such as, customer del...

Product Plan
Product Plan

Managing a product is complex. We need to understand our customers, markets, competition, regulation, and more. That’s a lot to remember! To fix this, product managers keep a product plan – a document that overviews our products & markets. What does it contain?

Product - what it is and what it offers the market

Vision - how the product will develop over the next 1 to 3 years

Customers - their needs, likes & dislikes, the problems & opportunities they have

Competition – how can we differentiate our product

Financials - Scale of the market , P&L model & pricing

Risks - wi...

Who do you compete against?
Who do you compete against?

When asked, most Product Managers name other companies that are similar to them. But that’s not really the full picture. When reviewing competitive threats think about it on three levels:

1. DIRECT
These are the competitors that look a lot like your company, with similar products. Think BMW vs Mercedes vs VW/Audi – all occupy a similar space in the market with similar brand profiles, therefore, directly compete with each other in the car market.

2. INDIRECT
Sometimes the competition is less obvious. It’s more about other ways that our customers can solve their problems. These are...

Mega Trend Road mapping
Mega Trend Road mapping

When did you last think about the long term direction of your product? Many of us get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to look up. The risk is our product might become irrelevant as trends change market needs. So spend a few minutes thinking:

• What trends are heading towards my market that may impact what we deliver?

• How would our current product suite cope?

• What small technology, communications and regulatory steps should I take to keep my product relevant.

Remember, taking many small steps forward is easier and less risky than one giant leap. But it often ...

Skill Set
Skill Set

I often describe product management as a multi-disciplinary role. To make the point here is our list of the 44 activities product managers are likely to engage in. Some daily, some rarely. Print it off, stick it on the wall and see how many you tick off. And see where the gaps in your product management skillset are.

Skill Set
Skill Set

I often describe product management as a multi-disciplinary role. To make the point here is our list of the 44 activities product managers are likely to engage in. Some daily, some rarely. Print it off, stick it on the wall and see how many you tick off. And see where the gaps in your product management skillset are.

Skill Set
Skill Set

I often describe product management as a multi-disciplinary role. To make the point here is our list of the 44 activities product managers are likely to engage in. Some daily, some rarely. Print it off, stick it on the wall and see how many you tick off. And see where the gaps in your product management skillset are.

Product Lifecycle
Product Lifecycle

Product retirement is a misused term. Most teams I work with don't retire products, they replace them. They try to transition their customers from product A to Product B. By missing this point, they don’t take a joined-up view and end up unbalanced – the old product often still in market with the new one struggling for traction. Here are five steps to manage a product transition.

1. Understand why.
Make sure you know exactly why a product is planned for retirement. Validate with customer and market feedback. List these issues as problem statements

2. Define replacement offer.
If yo...

proto personas
proto personas

We can’t develop a relationship with every single one of our customers, but we still need a way of understanding them. Grouping together customers with similar problems, needs, wants or desires helps us define them.

I find this tool helpful when I’m trying to build out a persona suite for a product or service. Its helps me build proto personas (i.e. unvalidated), that I can then test against real people.

It’s a simple model:

1. Start with their wants and needs

2. Then describe how they think and feel based on those wants and needs

3. Next, what do they do about the situati...

proto personas
proto personas

We can’t develop a relationship with every single one of our customers, but we still need a way of understanding them. Grouping together customers with similar problems, needs, wants or desires helps us define them.

I find this tool helpful when I’m trying to build out a persona suite for a product or service. Its helps me build proto personas (i.e. unvalidated), that I can then test against real people.

It’s a simple model:

1. Start with their wants and needs

2. Then describe how they think and feel based on those wants and needs

3. Next, what do they do about the situati...

Churn or retention
Churn or retention

Ever tried to fill a sink with the plug out? Thought not. Trying to grow a business with a high churn rate is similar – every good thing you do to grow with new product and service is negated by customers leaving.

Something every product manager should sweat about are their churn or retention stats. Here are two things to do to reduce churn:

1. Know your customer behaviour and lifecycle

Customers who churn typically show pre-churn behaviour (lack of use, complaints, etc) or are date driven (contract renewal). Work out the signs and timing and build intervention strategies

2. Make...

Churn or retention
Churn or retention

Ever tried to fill a sink with the plug out? Thought not. Trying to grow a business with a high churn rate is similar – every good thing you do to grow with new product and service is negated by customers leaving.

Something every product manager should sweat about are their churn or retention stats. Here are two things to do to reduce churn:

1. Know your customer behaviour and lifecycle

Customers who churn typically show pre-churn behaviour (lack of use, complaints, etc) or are date driven (contract renewal). Work out the signs and timing and build intervention strategies

2. Make...

Churn or retention
Churn or retention

Ever tried to fill a sink with the plug out? Thought not. Trying to grow a business with a high churn rate is similar – every good thing you do to grow with new product and service is negated by customers leaving.

Something every product manager should sweat about are their churn or retention stats. Here are two things to do to reduce churn:

1. Know your customer behaviour and lifecycle

Customers who churn typically show pre-churn behaviour (lack of use, complaints, etc) or are date driven (contract renewal). Work out the signs and timing and build intervention strategies

2. Make...

Capability in the Team
Capability in the Team

How capable is your product management team?

We’ve worked with many product teams over the last twelve months, and I thought it was worth sharing what ‘normal’ looks likes. The graphic below shows the average capability assessment of about 1,500 product managers. We take a look at 18 skills (E.g. Economic Management assesses whether the team have the skills and tools to deliver robust economic data to their leadership team. This includes forecasting costs and demand, reviewing P&L, and presenting the information) and rate the individual and the team. Our most common findings are that ...

Art or Science
Art or Science

Is product management art or science?

I’m helping an organisation build out their product management team. We’ve looked at their needs, built a skills gap canvas and identified what they require in terms of hard skills. Even with all that in place, the stand out skill that I’m always looking for is an ability to balance art and science. You can describe this in a number of ways; creativity and structure, ingenuity and discipline. Great product managers have enough creativity to define a truly compelling proposition and enough structure to get a complex product to launch without droppi...

Tribes and Squads
Tribes and Squads

The concept of Tribes and Squads seems to be really gaining attention in our customer base. We’re working with customers and trying to help them build models that work for their markets, people and products. Thought it was worth sharing this – our view of how Tribes and Squads could structure in large B2b teams.

1. Market-focused teams gather customer and market feedback. They build business cases in the form of commercial propositions

2. Portfolio owners (Tribe leader with P&L responsibility for a product range) reviews the propositions and accepts or rejects them

3. Squads (smal...

Key Characteristics of a Good PM
Key Characteristics of a Good PM


It’s a question we face all the time. Mostly, when we’re helping businesses build a product management function. When recruiting experienced Product Managers, you might look for certain skills; launch skills, research skills, pricing skills, etc.

Why not look internally for those who are looking for a new challenge? They might not have the experience or skill set just yet, but do they have the core capability?

Try our quick checklist for working out if they have PM potential:

Curiosity – Do they demonstrate intellectual interest? Are they eager to learn?

Drive – Do they s...

MVP
MVP

Why Do We Use It?
Answering this question allows us to really pin point the value of our product, why do customers buy in and use the product, what is it that seals the deal for them?

The MVP approach helps us to identify & prioritize our:
• Addressable market.
• Market segments.
• Personas in that segment.
• User stories for our personas.
Building the final product; takes a long time, is expensive and high risk. Rather than trying to deliver a fully rounded product, that is all things to all segments, at the outset; we use the MVP approach to help us prioritize our developme...

Big Business vs Small Business
Big Business vs Small Business


We train product management in some of the biggest and smallest companies globally.

Last year our biggest client employed over 4,000 people in product roles and our smallest had a product management team of one. Clearly there is going to be some change to the PM role depending on the size of the business and the product team, so what is the difference?

What does product management look like at these extremes? I’d characterise it like this – GLUING VS DOING.
In a big team, the product manager has marketers, pricing experts, launch managers, research teams, etc. Their job is to us...

The End User
The End User

Who is your customer?

We often think of our customer as the person or business that uses our product – the end user. But it’s often more complex than that, and as a Product Manager we need to define and communicate these complexities.

Reaching that end user often means working with other teams – sales, support, third party resellers, etc. The point is this; If those intermediary teams do not see the value in your product, you’ll never get to the end user. Think of this as a value chain – you’re at one end, the end user is at the other. The chain is only as strong as its weake...

Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement

What does a Product Manager do?

Our role can be complex and difficult to describe, and product culture within company can influence our definition massively. If we don’t have a clear purpose then we run the risk of being misplaced in our business, step forward all those Product Managers who really act as sales support or project managers...

So we define the Product Management role in this way.

“Product Managers reduce the risk of launching a product flop and increase the success of products in market”.

So what does that mean? Well, product failure occurs in every sector. By u...

Product Life-cycle
Product Life-cycle

Managing Through Product Life-cycle

Product management and innovation are intimately connected processes that require skilful interventions to maximise returns at every stage.

Milestone phases that are tackled as products move from their birth to infancy and ultimately to their maturity include:

- The Product Lifecycle,

- Crossing the Chasm,

- Entering the Tornado,

- Sustaining and Disruptive innovation theories

Familiarity with these theories is critical for product management success. The 7Ps of the marketing mix also provides a framework for different actions that can b...

Trusting Product Features
Trusting Product Features

An IP rating on a phone informs you, officially, what a phone is capable of handling in terms of its exposure to water. But it cost a company money to put any product through this testing and receive the official IP certification. Making a product more expensive in order to ‘officially’ reiterate the work the company has already done during product’s research and development.

OnePlus, a Chinese tech company known for their smart phones, have seen an opportunity here and instead of paying to have their OnePlus 6 & 7 Phones rated officially on their waterproofing capabilities, they have...

PM VS PM
PM VS PM

Product Owner & Product Manger

Plenty of teams with have experienced this issue, how do you structure Product Owners and Product Managers in a team?

It’s a dilemma for many – we often work with teams where there is no role clarity, and often, one person ends up doing both jobs.

Typically, the urgency of Product Owner duties overwhelm the importance of Product Management duties. The net result of this is very little commercial and strategic thinking taking place – the individual becomes technical, tactical and faces into the organisation.

Short term thinking isn’t a problem,...

5 tips for delivering bad news
5 tips for delivering bad news

There are times in every Product Managers career where we have to deliver bad news – a late product, a missing feature, a metric not achieved. It’s never easy, but here are my tips for delivering bad news:

Never delay - Bad news doesn’t get better with time.

Have clear reasons - You need to explain why. Be specific

Bring options and solutions - You need to show an action plan that solves or at the very least mitigates the problem as much as possible.

Write it down - Conversations can get misinterpreted.

Follow through - Track actions and keep everyone informed

Measure with your Product
Measure with your Product

Knowing where you’ve come from is interesting, knowing where you’re going is critical.

Most Product Management teams I work with have some form of metric set in place – they recognise the importance of tracking product success. But I’d estimate in 80% of cases those metrics are ones that look backwards. They tell you what HAS happened and give no clue as to what might happen next – they measure things like profit, usage & revenue. This is akin to a satnav giving you numerous stats on your journey so far, but not mentioning the road ahead is closed.

We know it’s impossible to ...

What's in a name?
What's in a name?

I always tell product managers that a good start is to make the name descriptive - it helps customers to understand your offer quickly. In the UK, think of WeBuyAnyCar.com - if you've never heard of them I'm betting you can guess roughly what they do by their name.

But walking through London last week it struck me that the name also had to be realistic. Take a look at this café I walked past- it certainly looks like it's seen plenty of battles, perhaps not so many victories. As names go, it's sailed past 'ambitious' and landed firmly in 'delusional'. Any examples of really good or really b...

Tribes, Squads, Prod Mgnt
Tribes, Squads, Prod Mgnt

Tribes and squads and product management

We’re all aware that waterfall is last century and agile is the way to go. But many of us are also aware that our whilst our business proclaims to be agile, it really isn’t - using scrum et al to deliver product does not make a business agile. Often we see a waterfall business and an agile dev team working to a horribly compromised Wagile model. A way through this? Take a look at Spotify with its squads and tribes model. Essentially the organisation completely embraces agile and has small, empowered, intact teams that don’t just think about the...

Prepare to Interview
Prepare to Interview

Recruiting and employment is a minefield of matching skill sets and personalities, finding the right people to fit into your current team or disruptive individuals that promote change.

It is difficult to find the right balance.

Finding the right fit is hard to do from looking at CV’s, and interviews don’t help to much either… ‘On my best behaviour with my best foot forward’.

You can get a sense of their skills from the CV, but this isn’t going to be a fully accurate representation of what they can provide. Really, an interview needs to realise candidates’ attitudes and p...

levels of competition.
levels of competition.

I was talking to a team who describe their product as having “no competition”. Great news? Perhaps, but think about it like this.

We should think about levels of competition.

1. We might face products similar to ours from competitors that look a lot like us. These are direct competitive threats - think Audi vs BMW vs Mercedes.

2. Sometimes the competition is less obvious. Its other ways that our customers can solve the problem that we help them solve. These are indirect competitive threats – think car vs plane vs video conferencing

3. Occasionally we see our product having no...

Innovation vs Maintenance
Innovation vs Maintenance

Maintenance vs innovation



How do product managers balance the needs of their current product versus investing in new ideas? We’re working with a company where about 80% of development effort is directed towards product maintenance, some towards enhancements and the little bit that’s left goes to innovation. The result? A very frustrated senior management team who see a huge spend and nothing new to sell. There can be many reasons behind this (badly architected product, fixed sized dev teams, etc) but it clearly cant be sustained. Our fix? Set a target maintenance spend (say 20%) and...

Engaging with the audience
Engaging with the audience

Communication is a vital skill for a product manager. It might be a 5 minute elevator pitch or a full technical review. Either way you need to keep your audience engaged and interested in what you saying. Here are a few tips :

1. Tell the audience why they are there

2. Pick three major points you want to talk about and focus on those.

3. Don't overload your presentation with text and pictures.

4. Keep an eye on time. Use a parking lot to collect points that can be answered later.

5. Don't just deliver dry facts.

6. Deliver with passion.

7. Banish your nerves.

Mega Trends
Mega Trends

Mega trends are substantial changes that can impact any aspect of our business. Once upon a time the internet was a potential mega trend, out on the horizon, gathering strength. Some businesses saw it, built or modified their products to accommodate it, and rode the internet wave. Others weren’t so visionary and floundered as the world moved online.

How do we identify mega trends? product managers must constantly look for trends in four broad categories:

· Technology – today we see trends such as A.I or the Internet of Things gathering momentum.

· Social – think of trends such...

Themed Roadmap
Themed Roadmap

A themed roadmap is the perfect framework to manage your product along strategic lines. It enables long term objectives & product deliverables to be realised but can flex to meet shorter term demands or agreed variations on the importance of each product strategy.

Moreover, a Themed Roadmap is a single "view" of product strategies and deliverables that can be used in all discussion with major stakeholders as you seek to gain alignment and agreement on a complex set of future product deliverables.

Losing a deal
Losing a deal

How do you react to losing a deal?

I’ll admit that I react badly, but how should a Product Manager really react? After a couple of months of not putting a wrong (we’ve just recorded our best month and will record our best quarter – go team!) we missed a deal. We’ll deal with this using GRIT.

Grieve – In my opinion good losers tend to be infrequent winners so don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Go for a run, beat a punch bag, relax in a hot bath. Whatever your way of dealing with it, give yourself a bit of time to get it out of your system.

Research - Gather as much data as y...

What does a PM do?
What does a PM do?

What does a product manager do?

Our role can be quite complex and difficult to describe. But if we don’t have a clear purpose then we run the risk of being misplaced in our business (step forward all those product managers who are really sales support or project managers, ....).

Here’s a definition that might help. “Product managers reduce the risk of launching a product flop and increase the success of products in market”. So what does that mean? Well, product failure occurs in every sector. By using a professional pm framework a product manager reduces the risk of a potential p...

Dealing with obstacles
Dealing with obstacles

Navigating obstacles is a daily part of Product Management – dealing with product issues, pressures from other teams, workload, worrying about product performance…..

Some Product Managers become so overwhelmed that they can’t see anything but obstacles. Their performance suffers, their product suffers, they suffer! Here’s a tip from the world of cycling; instead of looking at the obstacles, look beyond them at where you want to go. Look through the trees and around the rocks. By focusing on where you want to go instead of what you want to miss, the obstacles shrink and that good pat...

Market research
Market research

What does a great market research session look like?

I was reminded of this with a team I’m working with. They’re in a B2B market and are conducting early stage research on a new concept. A couple of product managers reported back that their customer visit had gone well. A deeper dive and it was clear that what they really meant was that the customer hadn’t asked any tough questions and so the meeting had been a breeze. This is bad news for the product; interested customers always ask difficult questions (date, price, detail). Think of these as buying signals – if they don’t ask ...

A new product or service
A new product or service

Forecasting for a new product or service is challenging with no historic or foundation data to work from. Challenging, but critical! Scope it right and you’ll align costs with opportunity to deliver a profitable proposition We use a seven step process:

1.Find the total available market – How many could buy or use your service?

2. Understand the stage of lifecycle your market is in – For example, is the market in growth or maturity phase? This will dictate how much of your available market is ready to adopt.

3.Identify key segments to do your research – Do quality research in a...

good development, bad product
good development, bad product

A good development process doesn’t make a good product

Many teams seem to turn to agile models in the hope that it will fix product problems. And although agile processes are great, they don’t generate great products in isolation.

Two points:

1. A bad idea stays a bad idea no matter how well it’s developed - it’s just a well executed bad idea.

2. Product is more than technology - think naming, pricing, positioning,

etc. Agile gives you only a small part of what you need for product success.

The product management lesson? Agile won’t fix your world. It might make one...

Finding the innovator
Finding the innovator

Driver-less cars. Love them or hate them, it feels like we are moving towards a future where automation will at the very least reduce driver engagement. But how will this market grow and form? It’s easy to get caught in the hype at the consumer end of the driver-less revolution and envisage the everyday commuter ‘driving’ to work eating breakfast, shaving, reading email. But as product managers we know that most markets form around innovators with big problems to solve.

Q: Who has the biggest problem that driver-less technology can solve?

A: Logistics companies spending a huge amou...

Product Portfolio
Product Portfolio

Managing a product portfolio

How do Product Managers make the right investment decisions so that the portfolio is performing well today and will continue to perform well in the future?

We use a dashboard so that Product Managers can make sure the tactical balance is correct (The BCG matrix), the Lifecycle mix is right (ideally we don’t want a portfolio all at the same stage of Lifecycle) , and the fit to longer term strategy is correct (the GE tool)

This gives a balanced view of portfolio.

Is your price right?
Is your price right?

We know that setting a price for a new product in a new market is based upon perceived or actual value, but what about price points when you’re taking upgrades into existing markets?

Here’s a five step process to check if your price point makes sense:

Product Name:
1. Target - Write down the target price point
2. Expectation - How does the target price point compare with pricing over the last three years in the market?
3. Difference – What does your product or service offer as a point of difference? Are these differences tangible and valuable to your target market?
4. Bran...

Who is your customer?
Who is your customer?

As product managers, we often think of our customer as the person or business that uses our product – the end user. But it’s often more complex than that. Reaching that end user often means working with other teams – sales, support, third party re sellers, etc. The point is this; If those intermediary teams do not see the value in your product, you’ll never get to the end user. It’s best considered as a value chain – you’re at one end, the end user is at the other. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If the sales team don’t understand it or the third party re selle...

Pricing - in the right ball park
Pricing - in the right ball park

Want to quickly check if your pricing is in the right ball park? Then answer three questions:

1. Is the price higher than the unit cost – we don’t want to lose money every time we sell

2. Is the price lower that the (perceived or tangible) delivered customer value – customers won’t buy if your product doesn’t represent fair value

3. Is the price broadly equivalent to comparable offers in the market – if price expectations are already set, customers will be unwilling to move far from that price

For the mathematically inclined, this turns into a simple model for sanity ch...

Getting the message right
Getting the message right

When should product managers engage with marketing to get the message right?

All too often, product marketing is an afterthought; we see many cases where teams don’t engage with marketing until late in a delivery cycle. And then they’re disappointed when the collateral, the positioning, the imagery and the core message don’t hit the mark.

My advice? Engage early. Really early. Get the marketing team involved at the ideation stage – at the very least they can help identify USPs, more likely they’ll add real value to the discussion and ultimately help drive a better product to m...

Getting a product wrong
Getting a product wrong

The impact of getting a product wrong

You can get a product wrong in many ways - badly designed, poorly build, doesn’t solve any specific need, too expensive etc....

We often think of the cost of the mistake in relation to the product - x million in development effort has been wasted, but the cost is much bigger than that. Think of it from a brand perspective. If a company delivers a bad product then customers don’t just reject the product, but they become wary of brand. An example from two brands- Alfa Romeo and Porsche; Alfa have a history of highs and lows. Sometimes they delight,...

Marginal Gain
Marginal Gain

Marginal gain can lead to market dominance

The product managers I meet are an ambitious bunch, often looking for ways to drive huge growth and dominate their market. My response sometimes surprises them “Huge product success often lies in the tiny detail”. Let me explain. In many markets the difference between product offers is pretty small. Winning in these markets can often be about tiny detail – a slightly better interface, a small feature, a better sales pitch or even a quicker response to a customer email. The point is that in competitive markets the detail counts. Rather than th...

Simplicity is Key
Simplicity is Key

I’m going to get this printed on a t-shirt and give it to the next product manager who starts by telling me their product is complex to explain! Part of the art of great product management is making the complex as simple to understand as possible. Want to test you or your team on simplicity? Then try this; describe your new product offer/feature in 30 seconds or less to a group who are in your market. Wait 10 minutes and the ask them to describe your product offer. Did they remember it? If not, that’s your problem, not theirs.

What to look for - Prod Manager
What to look for - Prod Manager

What to look for in a Product Manager

I was asked recently to define the qualities or attributes of my best Product Manager hires. This is my list, what is yours?

• You’re curious – You have a natural born curiosity and are eager to learn and understand. You always ask ‘Why?’.

• You have great people skills – You can influence and inspire through your passion, drive and credibility. People want to work with you.

• You make things happen – You’re a doer as well as a thinker. You solve problems. ‘Proactive’ defines you because you want to a difference

• Y...

Presentation Skills
Presentation Skills

Yesterday I delivered a webinar on communicating with clarity.

For a product manager, being able to present with clarity and conviction is a skill worth working on. Your bright new product idea could fall at the first hurdle if the review team simply don’t understand it or pay enough attention because of how you present. Sometimes a presentation unravels from slide one as they fail to get the introduction right.

So how should your presentation start? The key is structure; your audience want to know some basics. “Why am I here?”, “How long will I be here?”, “What decisions wil...

How do you prioritise features?
How do you prioritise features?

A common issue for Product Managers – they have a list of features and they need to make the call about which gets built first. The issue being that each feature is important to some customers.

Here’s a simple tool to help. Don’t start with the feature, start at the market end – prioritise your segments from most to least important (this could be based on value, growth , access, profits, etc). Then prioritise the people in those markets (for example, who controls the budget, or acts as the technical gatekeeper). Only when you’ve done this do you think about the features - what doe...

A Product plan
A Product plan

A Product plan is the nucleus of your product! It takes a lot of work to complete but it helps to align cross-functional teams and provides all the information available about your product, from hard market research to detailed financial models.

It’s time to present your product plan in order to bring teams in-line with your product. And all that hard work could be for nothing if you get this wrong and fail to communicate your message clearly. You have to be sure that the review team are going to understand, the product, the vision and all the key ancillaries that surround your product.
...

Agile Updates and Delivery
Agile Updates and Delivery

Agile delivery of product requirements and updates allows teams to maintain momentum and focus. Each sprint cycle within the agile world gives you a package update that is customer ready every 30 days, great!

But just because we work agile within the company setting doesn’t mean our customers want these updates delivered at the same rate.

We have to think about our customer base and the types of customers we deliver our product to, if we have customers working in a highly regulated sector then we have to be very considerate as to the frequency of updates to products and solutions that ...

Strategic Thinking
Strategic Thinking

Don’t fall into the trap of spending all your time in back to back meetings. Product Managers need time to think of future trends in their markets, new regulation, changes in customer behaviour etc. They must develop a clear vision of where they want to take their product based on trends and market changes. If not the product becomes directionless. If we spend all our time making tactical changes that in aggregate mean nothing, eventually our product will become irrelevant. Think about what happened with HMV and blockbuster.

My advice? Diarise strategic thinking - 30 minutes during the w...

Improving the user experience
Improving the user experience

A hotel I was in had tea and coffee making facilities in the room. But I couldn't get water in the kettle due to the shape of the sink. Not a great user experience! This type of niggle is common - many products and services have their equivalent of the hotel kettle - a feature that’s been included with good intent but not thought through in terms of customer interaction.

How do we fix this?

Product Managers should utilise user journeys, stepping through the customer experience to see how the feature works. It’s the difference between saying "We've put a kettle in the hotel room, jo...

Thinking of product retirement
Thinking of product retirement

Many Product Managers spend very little time at the retirement end of the Product Management discipline. Consequently, it’s an area where many teams have limited process or procedure. But remember, a bad product withdrawal can impact future product introductions – would you buy a new product from a company that had let you down with a previous product retirement? As with many things PM, the key is to step back and think a little. If you have a product that you’re thinking of withdrawing or replacing or retiring, spend 15 minutes answering these six questions before diving into a retireme...

Brand and Price
Brand and Price

How do you price a product? There are many aspects to think about (the value it delivers, the competitive landscape, etc), but many Product Managers underestimate the impact of brand. Your brand sets parameters on the price points you can achieve (and therefore the products you can deliver). “Easyjet launches super premium business class service” is not a headline we’re likely to see – the product might make sense but not in the context of the Easyjet brand. And don’t think of this as exclusive to B2C products. Earlier in my career I managed a product that was white labelled and reso...

How do you deal with new ideas?
How do you deal with new ideas?

“We have loads of news ideas!” Sounds like a great place to be, but for many Product Managers the stress of managing those ideas is formidable – ideas from sales teams “I can sell 100% more if you add these features” to managers “We need this new product to dominate market X”, to technical teams “We can build AI capability to enhance our product”, etc….

When the next person walks up to your desk with another great idea, whip out the innovation canvas. Fifteen minutes of effort, ten questions long, helps you understand what’s worth taking further and what should be drop...

The most common persona mistake?
The most common persona mistake?

The last few years has seen an increasing use of Personas and User Journeys across Product Management teams. They give us great insight and help us define products that truly meet customer needs. However, I see a common mistake; personas are so often focused solely on the end user. End users are important but they’re not the whole story – those end users won’t get to use your product if it does not make sense to the full value chain. Take a new credit card as an example; Banks would need to offer it and Merchants would need to accept it before consumers could access the value. The value ...

Refining your PM Skills
Refining your PM Skills


We’re half way through the year- a good time to reflect on team performance. When thinking about the performance of a product management team it’s way too simple to describe it as great, or terrible, or somewhere in between. It’s better to break it down into skills – what do they do well and where do they need support. It’s even better to prioritise those skills around business need. We use the skills curve to do this – prioritise the skills the team need to have, review their capability per skill, build out the skills curve, then focus on closing the gaps around the skills that ...

What is a roadmap?
What is a roadmap?


Product Managers are often requested to build out a roadmap. Our first response should be ‘Which Roadmap?’. We identify three roadmaps:

1. The Visionary Roadmap – A broad brush view of where your products need to go over the next 5/10 years based on market mega trends. It sets the direction of travel.

2. The Product Roadmap – It takes the vision and breaks it down into tangible customer deliveries . It defines how value will be delivered and identifies the major landmarks on our journey to our vision

3. The Technical Roadmap – It adds detail. It describes how we get to eac...

Defining the product value curve
Defining the product value curve


When you book a hotel room how do you decide which hotel to book? Price? Location? Points? Facilities? The likelihood is that you choose based on a number of reasons rather than just one. We can use this insight to help position our own products more effectively. The Value Curve is a tool that maps buying factors vs execution. Simply list the top 5 reasons customers choose a product in your market, work out how well you execute against that need and do the same for your competition. You can then see where to refine your offer.

Defining product success
Defining product success


How would you define product success? Revenue? Profit? Volume? The point is this; product success comes in many flavours that do not always directly link to a simple financial metric. A product portfolio can often be thought of as a team, where products perform different roles. Think of HP – printers make ink sales possible. Or google; its search engine is an enabler for its AdWords business. Like a soccer team would not be great if it was made up of 11 strikers, a product portfolio needs balance.
So when looking at what constitutes product success, think about the role your product need...

Skills Matrix
Skills Matrix

Welcome to the Tarigo Product Management Skills Matrix.
A useful & easy-to-use tool designed for Product Managers who would like to assess their current levels of knowledge, expertise and skills.
Once completed it can then be used to identify personal development plans and build a successful and rewarding career.
• Rate your personal competencies against those found in high performing product teams
• Identify your aspirations in terms of your competency targets and the associated gap analysis
• Put together a plan of action to develop yourself in order to meet your aspirations....

Revenue Forecasting
Revenue Forecasting



A question from a the head of a product team I’ve been training “Are there any quick tips for helping the team with revenue forecasting?” The background to this was a very frustrated leadership team who had been presented with revenue forecasts that turned out to be orders of magnitude different to actuals. My one quick tip would be this – DON’T FORGET LIFECYCLE STAGE! Most Product teams get the basics right in terms of understanding the available and serviceable market. The bit they miss is that they need to overlay the lifecyle stage to get a sense of adoption rates. For exampl...

Marginal Gains
Marginal Gains

Marginal Gains – make them invisible!

Marginal Gains is a popular topic at Tarigo and in the product management world in and we want to hear your thoughts on the topic!

It’s a great model to teach and understand as there are plenty of success stories and examples that we can look at in the product world to help explain product success and why certain products always seem to beat competitors!

Team Sky publicly displayed their passion and focus on marginal gains and claimed it was the reason for much of their Olympic success. Well Olympian and Tour De France winner Sir Bradley Wig...

What’s your product value?
What’s your product value?

Product managers should be able to articulate the value of their product to the target market in a concise, coherent and compelling way. Here’s the value proposition template with Nespresso as an example. Simply replace the black words with your own to build your value statement.

How fast is too fast?
How fast is too fast?

The dev manager of a team I’m working with at the moment has proudly announced that their new dev model has enabled them to release new code daily. The whole organisation is wowed by this, but no-one seems to have asked the question ‘Why?. The point is this; these guys work in the highly regulated and security-conscious world of banking. To an IT director the idea of daily software updates is the stuff of nightmares. As always, with anything to do with product, know your customers and build solutions (including delivery models) that work for them.

Building the habit.
Building the habit.

Want to change part of your life? If you do something for thirty days it becomes a habit. It can help people stop smoking, start exercising - break or make habits in your daily routine We use this to help Product Managers build the right discipline - thirty small tasks for the product manager to complete over 30 days. We deliver this as a card deck and once per day email. Want to try it? Drop us a note at info@tarigo.co.uk

Metrics.
Metrics.

Over the next few days we’ll revue the key metrics that help you track and measure your product. We break these down into 5 categories:

• Product P&L
• Market
• New Business
• Customer
• Other

Starting with Product P&L, these are the key high level commercial and monetary metrics associated with managing your Product as a Business (PaaB). This could include revenues, costs, both direct and indirect and a resulting profitability measurement. These metrics are best worked out in collaboration with finance.

What metrics do you use to track and measure products?.

Portfolio Analysis
Portfolio Analysis

Here’s a tool we use for portfolio review. It enables you to look at your product portfolio through three lenses:

Tactically. We use a BCG matrix to assess whether our current product suite is in the right shape. For example, low-share products in no-growth markets are probably best removed.

Lifecyle. We plot our products in terms of stage of life cycle. For example, if your product suite clusters around late-stage growth you might be generating great profits today, but could feel portfolio-wide communication soon.

Strategically. Are the markets you are in likely to remain attractiv...

Major Tasks
Major Tasks

What are the major tasks for a Product Manager?

We’ve built this framework that describes what we need to think about throughout the product delivery process. The 5D process defines the point in the delivery cycle (From Direct, where we set product strategy, to Drive, where we use marginal gain to enhance our in-market product), and the blocks beneath describe the major activities. The framework is a useful tool to make sure you’re not missing anything major on your journey to Product Management Excellence!

Product Narrative
Product Narrative

What’s the narrative of your product?

We’ve had President Trump in the UK this week. I guess it’s fair to say he is a figure that generates a wide emotional response wherever he goes. But love him or hate him, he has a skill around messaging that serves him well. He’s a world-class narrative builder; Ask the question “What does Donald Trump stand for” and you get immediate response “Make America great again”, “Build the wall”, “Drain the swamp”. Ask the same question about his rival Hilary Clinton and the room goes quiet. You can love or hate the message, but he gets...

iTunes is dead.
iTunes is dead.

Apple have announced that iTunes will be absorbed by the release of new and dedicated apps that will handle different media types separately – Apple Music, Apple Podcast, Apple TV.

From a product perspective, Does this make sense? & what considerations might have affected this change in direction?

Firstly, Apple music isn’t new. But it hasn’t been met with the same success that iTunes had when it was introduced. Perhaps this is the reason for dissolving iTunes – Apple music has traction already, but never matched up with its main competitor, Spotify. This move from Apple means th...

Revenue Forecast
Revenue Forecast

Remember in school when you did a maths exam. You didn’t 100% for just getting the correct answer - you had to show your method and working. Same’s true in product management. When you build out your revenue forecast the answer can’t be a simple £100M! You need to show your working. Here’s our seven step model that helps put structure around forecasting.

Project vs Product Manager
Project vs Product Manager

Project manager and Product manager.
Our names are almost the same, so what’s the difference in these roles?
A project manager focuses on the project - making sure we deliver on time, on budget, on quality, etc.
A product manager focuses on the product - making sure the features and functions map to market needs.
We need each other to work well.

Delivering value vs pain points
Delivering value vs pain points

Delivering value vs addressing pain points

Sometimes the point of difference you have over a competitor has nothing to do with the product and all to do with an adjacent pain point you can address. Simple example, two companies supply house bricks to the construction industry. Their bricks are identical in every way. Which would the house builder choose? Conventional logic says “the cheapest” and both businesses would engage in a price war. But step away from the product and think about the bigger picture. House builders can have a real pain point around cash-flow – address that and y...

Disinter-mediation
Disinter-mediation

Disinter-mediation is driving change

There’s a theme amongst many of our customers at the moment – when they look forward 5 years they see a radically different market as technology reduces the need for intermediaries between producers and consumers. This can be seen in many sectors; banking (p2p), legal (e-conveyancing) , finance (robotic accounting). Known generally as disinter-mediation, this trend generates risk and opportunity for Product Managers. But how should we react? The key is to understand who your customers are today and who they will be tomorrow – disinter-mediation doe...

How should you retire a product?
How should you retire a product?

Before starting a product retirement we use these six questions to check if retirement is something that should be considered – a set of basic checks to clarify why you’re retiring a product and what it will mean to you, your customers and your competition.

PM health check
PM health check

How do you review the maturity of a PM function? We use a 360 review:

• People

Without the right team in place it’s impossible to excel. We review the team through capability (Do they have the potential to be a great PM?), skills (Do they have the right PM experience?) and scale (Is there enough of them?)

• Processes

We review the full process, reporting, RACI, etc, viewing the process in terms of fit to your business (Risk vs reward vs scale vs speed vs certainty vs evidence vs innovation)

• Tools

Without standardisation, product managers use such a wide variety of t...

Managing feature parity
Managing feature parity

Three customers I’m working with at the moment all have the same core issue; they’re going through a platform rewrite and are struggling with feature parity – thinking that the new product should offer EVERYTHING that the old product offered and more on day one. The start point is often bad customer- communication “Of course the new platform will deliver everything that the old one did” followed by blind panic at the realisation that feature parity will take years. Here are our tips for dealing with this:

• Find your new platform USP and make that the narrative – perhaps bette...

Aligning with the sales team
Aligning with the sales team

What do your sales team sell? Might sound a weird question and many Product Managers would respond with “They sell my products!” .But in truth some sales teams don’t sell product, they sell capability. Think of it like this; if the sales team hasn’t traditionally been well-served with great go-to-market messaging and collateral about the product set then they tend to develop a habit of selling capability – an approach where they say “You tell me what you want and we will get it built”. The most obvious symptom of this is that every customer has special requirements that load deve...

Automation
Automation

Meet my new travel buddy. Not sure of his name, but he works in the hotel I’m staying in and can deliver things to my room. A gimmick or the start of a revolution?

In product management we often think of mega trends and the impact those trends will have on our market. My robot buddy fits into the trend of ‘automation’. This trend could drive huge change from autonomous vehicles through to robotic accounting. How impactful will automation be? We don’t know, but as product managers we better have a plan. The risk of no plan? Ask Kodak about digital photography or blockbuster about onl...

Measuring Product Managers
Measuring Product Managers

How do you measure product managers?

It’s a regular question - how should I assess a product manager? My view is a simple one - don’t assess what they do, assess what they help the business achieve. There are three things that an effective product manager can help a business achieve:

These are valuable to the business and define the value of product management to the organisation

Marginal gain in action
Marginal gain in action

Marginal gain in the Product Management world is about sweating the small stuff - taking care of the details that might just get you ahead of the competition. Here’s my real-world example. I landed in Shanghai yesterday, got to my hotel and found my laptop power supply not working. In a bit of a panic (I’ve got three days of presentation ahead of me) I went down to the hotel lobby for help. They checked if any were in lost property, and when that didn’t work they actually took me to a local store, dealt with the translation and, much to my relief, got me a temporary fix that will get me ...

What’s in a name?
What’s in a name?

Here is England the new royal baby has just been named - Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. For Archie it’s less important, but for most of us our name gives all sorts of clues as to who we are, where we came from, our gender, our age, etc. The same’s true with product naming. What we call our product, service or business can have significant impact on its success and position (Think Easyjet and you have a business name that can’t be exclusive and high-end). Then there are local language issues (Think Mitsubishi Pajero in South America), search engine optimisation problems, (call it so...

Customer Research
Customer Research

Making sense of customer research

So you’re conducting some customer research in the b2b world, trying to figure out if that new product idea is something your customers will buy and use. But how can you tell? You present your slide deck and they seem positive – but does that mean they will buy? This is a typical product management issue – trying to interpret customer reaction and turn it in to a revenue forecast. Here’s a simple tip. When you present your new idea hold three pieces of information back:

1. The price
2. The delivery date
3. Some integration details

Customers ...

Building a business case
Building a business case

Building the business case is like doing a maths exam

“Build a business case”. A request many product managers hear when looking for funding for a new product or enhancement. But what do we mean by business case? Many take it to be some financials – a set of numbers to validate that by spending X we’ll gain Y (and hopefully Y is bigger than X!). But the financials are really just the business case summary. The rest of the document tells the full story – why we should build, what our market looks like, etc. It builds the narrative that makes the numbers believable. Think of it like...

Four Tips
Four Tips

Four tips for building outstanding Value Propositions

Building a really compelling value proposition is central to great Product Management – a great product needs great messaging to thrive in a market.

So how do we do it? The start point is to use a framework like the one in the image below, complete it, and then review it with these four simple rules:

1. Does it clearly identify a targetable market?
Know who you’re aiming at

2. Does it define a real and substantial need in that market?
Fix a problem they want you to fix

3. Is there clarity in the proposition and the valu...

Competitive landscapes
Competitive landscapes

Here’s a neat tool to help Product Managers assess their competitive landscape . Based on the fact that customers buy or use products for a set of reasons, it takes value proposition thinking and gives more depth and detail. Here’s how to use it:

1. Define a set of factors that drive use and adoption of your product or service. For example, what a guest books a hotel room they will consider price, but they’ll also think about location, facilities, rating, etc

2. Prioritise these factors from most to least important from the customer perspective

3. Plot your product in terms of e...

Beating commoditization
Beating commoditization

Many Product Managers struggle with a ‘me too’– they believe that their product has no discernible point of difference, so price is the only point they can win on. It’s true that commonization at a feature level is a fact of life for some teams, but that does not mean price is the only difference left. Think about your own purchasing experience – product is important, but so is service, brand, availability, etc. The point is, people buy and use products for a range of factors and Product Managers should try and find points of difference across that range. Here’s our tip, step thr...

 Minimal Viable Product
Minimal Viable Product

We’re all familiar with the Minimal Viable Product concept. Granted, it gets misused, but the idea of finding a point of initial traction with a product and iterating from there is attractive. So how does this work with things like platform upgrades? It’s a common issue; development have spent months building a new platform, it promises great things in the future, but currently it does not have every single feature of the outgoing product. When sales try and sell it they hit many brick walls. The key problem is that lifecyle management is missed – the team try and promote their new solut...

Growth – Who’s job is it?
Growth – Who’s job is it?

Growth is something we are all familiar with. But are we fully aware of where the responsibility of growth lies?

We all get set our own targets to hit, but growth is more than just a target. Being able to produce the capability of growth, and with that – large scale growth, is a different thing entirely. Growth has become a fundamental of the product itself and therefore a lot of the responsibility lies with the product manager.

So, where does growth start? First, it’s important to note that as a product manager, growth starts with the vision - How big are you looking at the opport...

Are Apple Pro?
Are Apple Pro?

Apple are very good at using marginal gains each product release to maintain a point of difference over the competitor. Once you include Apple ID, iTunes, Apple music and iCloud, it becomes a whole infrastructure that surrounds their products. A slightly different approach to retaining a customer base.

Apple becomes part of your lifestyle, which makes it more difficult to change over to a different brand later on. Being aware of this helps us to realise that each product release has become more iterative as appose to innovative, in recent years. In fact, some changes caused more pain for th...

Testing Process
Testing Process

Samsung have some serious work to do to fix ‘foldgate’ – the new foldable handset that seems remarkably easy to break in the hands of the media who have versions ahead of release date.

The launch has been delayed, but some warm words from Samsung won’t fix this – would you put $2000 of your money into one when Samsung says “we’ve fixed the issue” in a few weeks time? Thought not. A sceptical market will need many proof points before they’ll be willing to spend. And the impact will be felt outside Samsung. They were in a race to beat Motorola, Huawei and others with a fol...

Presenting to your peers Pt.2
Presenting to your peers Pt.2


4. Start Strongly you have 3 minutes to impress
The first three minutes, as when you first meet someone, is so important to a presentation. Make eye contact and smile, make sure the first 3 minutes of the presentation holds the stakeholder’s attention. Make them laugh!
Think of a story that is relevant at the start of the presentation which will hold the audience

5. Don’t use the presentation as a script
Don’t bore the audience with ‘Death by PowerPoint’. By all means use the presentation as a reminder but do this in as fewer words as possible and use images if you can.
You...

Presenting to your peers Pt.1
Presenting to your peers Pt.1

The ability to communicate well is an important skill for any Product Manager. This means, among other things, that you should be able to present about your solution fluently and to different stakeholders, who will require different levels of information.

A persuasive presentation not only requires thorough preparation of content, but also good style. For this purpose, here are some tips to offer guidance and help you on the way to delivering a memorable presentation.

1. Show your Passion and Connect with your Audience

But time and again, the great presenters say that the most importa...

Strategy
Strategy

Beating the competition with Strategy

Strategy is at the core of delivering a solution effectively. For Product Mangers, it is absolutely vital that they become acquainted with strategic thinking in order to plan for the future and always be that one step ahead of the competition.

Strategy can come into play in many areas.

- How have you set your team up?

- What methods are in place to communicate with transparency?

- What does the future of your product look like?

- How do you plan to attain your product vision?

All of these points relate to strategic thinking and could b...

Part 2
Part 2

Getting Product culture right in your organisation Part 2.

The Product Manager is the person responsible for defining the Why? When and What? of the product that the engineering team builds. It is an important organisational role that:

- Sets the vision and strategy for the business solutions

- Communicates the roadmap

- Defines the feature definition for a product or product line.

- The position may also include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. In many ways, the role of a Product Manager is similar in concept to being a CEO of a solution.

...

Part 1
Part 1

Getting product culture in your organisation part 1.

Through the many years of working with different companies, it is amazing how many people say the product sells itself. Yet the truth in many cases is:

- The solution has cost far more than it had to, because they didn’t truly understand their market needs, so compensated by building everything a customer wants.

- Had no control on costs and this means no control on profit.

- The price normally was too low, as no understanding of the competition or value.

- The product was not used to its full potential, so customers didn’...

Importance of persona’s Part 2
Importance of persona’s Part 2

The importance of persona’s Part 2

The Benefits of Persona Development

If you don’t think Personas are worth the trouble, think again. Benefits include:

· Personas give stakeholders an opportunity to discuss critical features of a redesign: Using Personas to walk stakeholders through common interactions unveils frustrations and pain-points that will help clarify actual user priorities over the stakeholder’s personal wish list.

· They help team members share a consistent understanding of the user group: Personas take data and make the stories more compelling and fun, thus ma...

Importance of Personas Part 1
Importance of Personas Part 1

The importance of Personas Part 1

A “Persona” is a fictional representation of an actual user and is applied in the early stages of product development or product redesign. Personas are vital to the success of a product because they drive design decisions by taking common user needs and bringing them to the forefront of planning before design has actually started. Personas provide the team with a shared understanding of users in terms of goals and capabilities.

We use a persona map to efficiently store all of the information of our personas. The canvas is split into sections – Give...

better product communicators
better product communicators

Leaders of Product Management often ask how to get their team to be better product communicators - to be able to get their message across well. My response is to ask one simple question “When did you last ask the team about value propositions?”. Here are some simple tips to drive better product communications:

1. Be value proposition obsessed
Test the team regularly by getting them to present the following:
• Elevator pitch
• Five minute overview
• Product vision
• Value proposition
• Objection handling

2. Measure communications effectiveness
• E.g. does the sal...

Think more strategically
Think more strategically

Leaders of Product Management are often concerned that their team are all tactics and no strategy. The question asked is “How do I make product managers more strategy focused”. The answer often lies with the manager – teams focus on what they’re measured, rewarded and questioned on.

So if you want your team to think more strategically here are some simple tips:

1. Set an objective for building a vision – if they have it as an objective, it’s more likely to happen

2. Talk strategy – if you only ever talk to your team about short term, urgent issues, they’ll only focus ...

NFR’s
NFR’s

Make NFR’s one of the first things you understand?

In Systems engineering and Requirements engineering, a non-functional requirement is a requirement that specifies criteria that can be used to judge the operation of a system, rather than specific behaviours. For example: Scalability, Accessibility, Capacity. However, it should be about more than this in a SaaS world!

From an Architecture perspective, you need to get this right or you will have heavy costs fixing issues in the future. More importantly you should be setting out what your expectations of the overall customer experience l...

What Makes a Good PM
What Makes a Good PM

How do you identify a good Product Manager?

I'm constantly asked what makes a great Product Manager. In my experience, a strong Product Manager is the CEO of their solution and gets involved in all aspects from inception to launch, and then in-life management. Due to this I am a strong believer in ‘Hire for attitude, train for skill’. If someone has the right behaviours, then you can teach them the skills to be a great product manager.

My approach to interviewing is firstly to understand their personality, so :

1) Can they fit into the team dynamic? (disruption of the ‘status qu...

Product Strategy
Product Strategy

I have worked with many CEO’s who say the trouble with strategising is they don’t see any action! People can procrastinate around strategy and in many cases, boards are reluctant to spend money, if there are any questions unanswered, or like Donald Rumsfeld said, “known unknowns”.

However, like a lot of situations in business, what is the right amount of information to make a decision? You cannot know everything at the beginning and like the rest of the product process you will continue to iterate the strategy as you have more information and realign.

A strategy lays out a plan o...

Usage Analytics
Usage Analytics

Why do people forget usage analytics?

According to McKinsey, if a software company grows at only 20%, it has a 92% chance of ceasing to exist within a few years.

This means that software companies - particularly SaaS companies - must look at every advantage possible to stay alive in an ever-competitive market, remember it is the small margins that can be the deciding factor as to how successful you are.

Customer analytics can be just one way that gives you that competitive edge. Whether it is measuring retention, product usage, or on-boarding, SaaS businesses must have comprehensive d...

Maintaining a business case
Maintaining a business case

How many of us build out a business case to get our product funded and then simply forget it? It worth remembering that the business case changes as conditions change; customers, markets, competition, risks, numbers, etc all can change. To build the business case once and then forget it is to neglect this fundamental of change. And if we build the business case and forget it, we’re building a product for historical market conditions – what our markets used to look like.

Simple product management tip – make a habit of reviewing your business case and updating it – 15 minutes per wee...

marginal improvement program
marginal improvement program

I’m working with a team who have a 5% market share and falling vs a competitor at 35%. Simple question – what should they do?. To answer this Product Managers first need to establish how competitive their product offer is. It’s very easy to think the competition is too far ahead by looking simply at market share, but that’s not always the full picture – it could be that the competitor is marginally better, and that marginal advantage turns into market dominance (i.e. most customers choose the competitor because it’s ever so slightly better). So before throwing your product away and...

Do Product Management have power
Do Product Management have power

A question that comes up frequently on the basis that we often have significant responsibility for our product. So, don’t we need enough authority to execute our responsibilities? The short answer is no - product management is a role of influence rather than direct control. We influence leadership teams to invest in products, right the way through to influencing sales teams to focus on our product. So how do we gain influence? Through evidence - coherent and compelling market research. Want to secure that 7 figure investment from your leadership team? Compelling evidence is what it takes. Re...

Pricing is a strategy
Pricing is a strategy

Pricing is a strategy, not just a number Too many product teams treat pricing as an afterthought - they come up with a number some time near launch when asked “how much is it?”. Pricing should be something we start thinking about at ideation and build a strategy for through to launch. Think of products such as the HP inkjet - it’s priced using a penetration and premium model (printers are low price to penetrate the market, ink is high price to generate profit). This pricing model directs design decisions (e.g. make printers with different ink cartridge design to protect the market from ...

Building the product funnel
Building the product funnel

Sales team often think of sales pipeline – a tool that enables them to describe where customers are in the sales process from initial contact through to closed. It helps the sales manager build a robust forecast, track progress within the sales team and give an early indicator of issues – no new leads in the pipeline won’t affect this quarter but will impact the next. Product managers can adopt this technique too – building a product funnel that helps them visualise how their product is tracking. Think of building a suite of metrics that don’t just measure success (e.g. revenue, prof...

Why is growth so important?
Why is growth so important?

We all want our business to grow, but how important is it? Growth is much more than a nice-to-have. It’s a fundamental for success; competition is a daily reality and without growth, you are offering opportunities for others to establish in your markets. Think of it like this, over 20,000 tech businesses were registered across Europe last year alone. That’s 20,000 more reasons to grow before they start to take a share of your business. Growing isn’t about greed, it’s about survival.

Building trust in a brand
Building trust in a brand

A team I was working with earlier this week have a goal of being “The trusted brand” in their sector and they were looking at how to make that happen. This is one of those topics with no shortcut - building brand trust takes time. My example; having just stepped off flight number 18 of the year so far the one constant travel companion over the last 20 years has been #samsonite. The picture below shows my current selection that has been beaten and battered through more airport terminals than I care to remember. They never let me down. Building brand trust isn’t about getting it right onc...

Life-cycle
Life-cycle

You can’t size a product opportunity without knowing about Life-cycle

A recurring theme in my world is a frustration in many organisations about their inability to forecast. It’s pretty obvious why we need to do this – if you can’t scale an opportunity then you can’t right-size the organisation. But I constantly meet teams where the forecast is orders of magnitude wrong. Fundamental to this is lack of understanding life-cycle – a model that describes how a market turns on and off over time as different types of users buy in to your product. The main point being that a market is ...

Five of five – Drive
Five of five – Drive

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time time frame, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s continue with Drive – Build on your success

Getting a product successfully out to market is a huge success. Great job! But, let’s not forget that on launch day you’re likely to have spent huge amounts on developing your product. Now i...

Four of five - Deliver
Four of five - Deliver

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time timeframe, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s continue with Deliver – launch with momentum

Building a great product is only part-way to success– great technology needs great messaging, marketing and planning to turn it into a world class solution. Product Managers work with marketin...

Three of five - Define
Three of five - Define

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time timeframe, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s continue with Define – translating the best opportunities into business cases and user stories.

The next step is to do a deep dive – clearly understand the market need, translate it for our development and delivery teams, and build out a...

Two of five - Discover
Two of five - Discover

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time time frame, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s continue with Discover – assessing new ideas

Into the product management world comes with huge numbers of ideas. These ideas range in scope and type; new products, new markets, enhancements, pricing initiatives…. the list is endless. Al...

One of five - Direct
One of five - Direct

Over the week we’re going to step through the Product Management process. We call this our 5D process; Direct, Discover, Define, Deliver & Drive.e of five - Direct

Process Is vital for successful Product Management – it ensures we build the right products at the right price point in the right time timeframe, communicated well to the right customers.

So, let’s start with Direct – setting the product vision.

Imagine stepping on a plane and the Captain announces “Not sure where we’re going today, we’ll just take off and fly and see where we end up”. Pretty unnerving, but ...

Building a tech business
Building a tech business

Stephen Allott shared his thoughts about building a tech business at the PMC launch this week. Stephen has an incredible track record in the tech sector and has built a business to a $7Bn market capitalisation.

1. Hire the best
He talked through some of his hiring at Micromuse, for him one of the magic ingredients for success was an insistence on hiring the best. Not ‘good enough’ and not a body to fill a hole in an org chart, but world-class individuals.

2. Dream big and clearly
His view was to step five years into the future and imagine your perfect scenario. Not an ambiguous dr...

Building a tech business
Building a tech business

Stephen Allott shared his thoughts about building a tech business at the PMC launch this week. Stephen has an incredible track record in the tech sector and has built a business to a $7Bn market capitalisation.

1. Hire the best
He talked through some of his hiring at Micromuse, for him one of the magic ingredients for success was an insistence on hiring the best. Not ‘good enough’ and not a body to fill a hole in an org chart, but world-class individuals.

2. Dream big and clearly
His view was to step five years into the future and imagine your perfect scenario. Not an ambiguous dr...

Learning on demand
Learning on demand

“Knowledge is power” goes the old adage.

Most Product Managers I meet have an appetite to learn – we’re an intellectually inquisitive bunch! But as a product management trainer I have this dilemma; we immerse teams in the whole Product management process from ideation through to retirement in the sure knowledge that most of the team won’t use most of the learning in the next few months. They’ll focus on the topics that directly impact their immediate work and forget the rest. It’s a completely rational response, but it highlights a real issue; learning and work are out of sync...

Don’t overload you presentation
Don’t overload you presentation

I’ve just sat through presentation torture – a product manager with slides full of 10 point font! It was an hour of staring at the back of a the persons head as they read their own slides. I understand why this happens - nervousness. They think “I’ll never remember everything I need to say so I’ll write in it the deck as support”. But the problem when they present is that either the audience just read the slides or the presenter reads for them - both are pretty dull and completely unengaging.

Remember, slide decks are a presentation aid, they do not tell the full story and proba...

Marginal Gain
Marginal Gain

How can we as Product Managers use marginal gain to ensure we always stay ahead of our competitors ?

First gaining prominence with Sir Dave Brailsford, Performance Director for Team Sky, the UK’s professional cycling team, he pushed the team to search for the 1% in hundreds of tiny areas that were overlooked by their competitors: they looked at more obscure areas such as taking their favourite pillows on tour to get the best night’s sleep and teaching riders how to wash their hands to avoid illness and time off training. They were relentless in their pursuit of marginal gains and it pai...

Getting to ‘no’
Getting to ‘no’

Sales teams often talk about ‘getting to yes’, but for Product Managers I’d argue that getting to ‘no’ is just as important when managing new ideas. In fact, getting to ‘no’ quickly and cleanly is a really useful skill. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen products blown off course by deals being won that created more distraction than dollars – dev teams burning huge resource to try and fit what’s been sold into what’s already been built.

The key to rejection is to act quickly (wait too long and expectation builds) and logically (saying ‘no’ without r...

Getting your message across
Getting your message across

I’m working with a team on messaging this week. I’m struck by how complicated many product managers make their message – I often have to spend an hour trawling through brochures and slides to get any sense of their product and I’m told ‘it’s complicated’ . Think of this from a customer perspective – if your product doesn’t grab their attention immediately then they’ll move on – they’re busy people with a thousand other things to do. To fix this, think of a newspaper article – great content is wasted if there isn’t a compelling headline to draw you in or an image tha...

Customer Domination
Customer Domination

How much of your customers day is consumed with activities that involve your product or service?

Imagine you build a successful product that help shopkeepers manage inventory. A typical train of thought for the Product Manager looking for growth is “Who else has an inventory problem that I can sell to”. This is completely valid, but you could also look for growth by answering a different question “What else keeps shopkeepers busy?”. The downside of this is pretty obvious – you’ll need new products to meet the new needs you identify. But before you discount it, think about the co...

Product Management potential
Product Management potential

Question: How can you spot Product Management potential?

You know the type of scenario – that person who’s doing a great job in support/presales/etc is looking for a move, has no Product Management background, but do they have potential? Here are the six attributes to look for:

Curiosity - Has a natural curiosity for the product and eager to dive into the details (technology, markets, regulation, customers, competitors, etc).

An influencer - Is an Influencing and inspiring individual who is through their charismatic attitude able to drive and lead progress whilst creating a posit...

Lessons from Donald
Lessons from Donald

I’ve been working with a Product Management team, helping them sharpen their product positioning because it was too vague and vanilla – it tried to please everyone and ended up appealing to no-one.. Simple question from the team “who gets this right” got a response they didn’t expect – Donald Trump. Let me explain.

1. Love him or hate him, you know what he stands for. Make America great again, Build a wall…. He has his messaging pillars in place and he sticks with them.

2. He knows who is target audience and he speaks to them and only them .

3. Critically, he knows who i...

What do Product Managers do?
What do Product Managers do?

It’s a question we’ve answered many times before, but this was presented to me last week and I thought it was a great way of simply describing our job. We sit at the interface of customers, technology and our company, and we try to deliver solutions that meet a real customer need whilst addressing both the goals of the business and tech capability. Put simply, we solve market needs while achieving business goals.

Thanks to Willem Bekkers for this - a great product guy.

Launch
Launch

When do you start to launch your solution?

You are delivering a solution not just a product. A lot of companies make the mistake that they are purely building products and as soon as they are ready, then they can release. But the solution is larger than this, it is scaling your delivery and support teams are ready. This includes:

- Consultants prepared

- Marketing campaigns understood. Advocates ready to help with communication, organise your PR

- Sales enablement complete and sales teams trained

- Support Desk trained and the SLA’s (Service Level agreements) and OLA’s (Oper...

Talking the right language
Talking the right language

Ever feel your message isn’t getting through to your customer? It could be that the message is wrong, but often it’s not the message, but the delivery – language that doesn’t resonate with your target market. Here’s a simple example; you want to encourage your children to exercise more. Which statement is more likely to work: ‘ Shall we go for a long ride on our bikes to improve our cardiovascular fitness’ or ‘Let’s see who can get muddiest on the canal path!

’’Simple rule of product management – when you talk to your customers, speak in a way that makes sense to the...

Communicating MVP
Communicating MVP

Communicating MVP – learning from Brexit.

Brexit was miss sold using indefinite data and promises. During the leave campaign, the ‘350 million pound extra a week for the NHS’ was quickly dismissed as the referendum vote had taken place, despite clear proof of this promise.

So as Product Managers, what can we learn from this?

Having a clearly defined MVP (minimum viable product) is crucial to your credibility and success, especially on large scale projects, like Brexit. See the problem is that so many people of political influence promised so many things that the public then exp...

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong once wrote a book entitled ‘it’s not about the bike’. Turned out there was more truth in that title than we’d imagined, but ‘It’s not about the product’ would be a good product management book title.

Working with a new team today on a go to market plan and they were surprised how much of product management is not about the product. It’s so true. Think about a launch plan - it shines a light on this and shows that to launch well you must have a product, but you also need legals, messaging, sales plans, support, pricing, etc. Great products need lots of round...

The 80:20 Rule of Prod Mgnt
The 80:20 Rule of Prod Mgnt

The 80:20 rule of product management

There’s snow across quite a bit of the uk right now. Not snow like our Scandinavian friends would recognise (we’ve barely enough to build a snowman in most places), but enough to bring our trains and planes to a grinding halt. Across the UK you’ll get a typical reaction. “Why does one centimetre of snow stop our country when many regions have months of more severe weather each year and seem to manage!” The answer lies in that response. If your country has three months of snow each year then you need to invest to manage it. If your country ha...

Tracking Product Success
Tracking Product Success

How do you track product success?

Product Managers need to be able describe if the product they launched was successful, typically in metric form. Simple idea, but difficult to do. Whether you’re an OKR or KPI or SMART fan, it’s important to think in terms of lag and lead. Some metrics lag – think revenue. It’s critical, but if that’s all you quantity then there’s very little action you can take at the point that the metric becomes measurable. Other metrics lead – think pilot customer or launch date. These give an indication that you’re on the right path. Product Managers s...

Disappear or Shift?
Disappear or Shift?

Does your Market Disappear or Shift?

The ‘decline of the high-street’ has been regular news for the what seems like forever. Few weeks go by without another casualty hitting the headlines. Talking with a group who are dealing with this got me thinking - is it market decline or market shift? Take Blockbuster for example, they filed for bankruptcy, blaming a declining market. In reality, their market was larger than ever, it had just shifted towards the online & digital space.

So, what can we learn from this? Sure, some markets disappear, but most shift. And these shifts cause disru...

Product Manager Characteristics
Product Manager Characteristics

What are the characteristics of a good product manager?

It’s a question we face when we’re helping businesses build a product management function. If you’re recruiting experienced Product Managers then you might look for skills – launch skills, research skills, pricing skills, etc. But what about that person sat in support who is looking for a new challenge? They might not have the skills just yet, but do the have the core capability?
Here’s our quick checklist for working out if they have pm potential:

Curiosity – Do they demonstrate intellectual interest? Are they eage...

Releasing a Product
Releasing a Product

How often is too often to release a product?

Working with a team last week, we got to a common agile conundrum; core to the agile process is the concept of frequent, iterative product releases. This is often seen as nothing but positive by many teams “You can release product updates every 7 days!”, but there are many markets where this makes no sense at all. For instance, your customer is a bank and your product has security implications – the iterative agile model simply can’t operate in that world. So is agile the wrong process for these types of products? Not necessarily. The agi...

Importance of Innovators
Importance of Innovators

If, like me, you believe your greatest marketing and sales tool is through advocacy and referral, having others talk about your product, getting them selling the virtues of how your solution will benefit likeminded customers with the same need then you will believe this approach will drive the strongest growth and, if you get it right, a strong bond between you and your customer base going forward.

I have never, over the years, found a greater marketing and sales machine than ‘bought into customers’. The client, through developing a great relationship with you, then progresses to buyin...

Value Curve
Value Curve

Why do customers buy your product?

Working with a team this week to help them position their solution in a complex market. When asking teams why their product wins or loses they often come up with one reason - perhaps a specific product feature or aspect of the service model. Worth remembering that customers rarely buy on one dimension - think about buying a house or a car or some expensive electronics. They are usually a number of factors that drive buyer behaviour. Product managers should always see value through the value curve.

Product Partners
Product Partners

The importance of Product Partners: 4 ways software organisations can increase revenue

For many software companies there is a real challenge in continuing to develop software in keeping pace with changes in the sector. To be successful, you need a business strategy that makes sure you meet the needs of customers in your target market . . . and it’s here where Product Partners play a crucial role.
Product Partners are different to straightforward channel re sellers who include your software in a portfolio of other solutions to sell to their target market. Instead, Product Partners have cr...

Product Mgmt in Tech
Product Mgmt in Tech

Where does Product Management belong in Tech organisations?

As tech companies grow and the nature of technology evolves into the world of SaaS and apps, there’s often confusion around where Product Management should sit in the organisation.
Traditional consumer organisations have had a tendency to consider Product Management in the same arena as Marketing. However, the danger here is when Marketing is actually ‘Marketing Communications’ - it means that no-one is involved in defining and delivering the products.

In a lot of Tech companies, the Product Management function tends to ...

Webinars VS Face to Face
Webinars VS Face to Face

When are webinars actually BETTER than face-to-face meetings?

Now don’t get me wrong, webinars are great.
They are a good way of being able to communicate with lots of people at once and they work around your customer’s needs, they allow them to dip in and out as they please and you can offer webinars during the evenings and weekends when they won’t necessarily be tied up with other commitments.
From a business point of view, it allows you to test your solution or concept within the wider market to multiple people at once from the comfort of your own office, drastically reducing y...

Prod,  Prob or Sol managers?
Prod, Prob or Sol managers?

Product, Problem or Solution managers?
I was in conversation with some sales people yesterday and we got on to one of the regular hot topics - product managers talk too much about product. It can sound a little weird - surely a product manager should talk about the product? But too much product focus is wrong because customers don’t really buy products. Think of it like this; the old saying in sales that ‘people buy from people’ has a product management equivalent. “People don’t buy products they buy solutions to problems”. Help sales team sell by ensuring they have clarity on t...

Customer Centric
Customer Centric

Many organisations would claim to be customer-focused. In truth, to say you’re focused on your customers should really come as standard. Keeping customers happy and giving them the products and services they need is basic business common sense.To be truly successful you need to start being customer-centric – an entirely different approach.

The reasons for being customer-focused are about maximising revenue and this often comes across as a bit self-serving, they look at how they can get more business by creating a product or service that is ‘better’ than the competitors.
Customer-ce...

Concentrate on the footsteps
Concentrate on the footsteps

We’re a couple of weeks into the new year – just long enough for those ambitious plans we had for our product in the new year to start unravelling as the daily grind takes hold. How can Product Managers remain on track when we’re overwhelmed with work? The trick is to divide and conquer – complex, difficult, or overwhelming tasks are made up of many simple and easy steps. So don’t dwell on that huge product launch today to the point it overwhelms, tackle some simple steps that move you a little closer. Concentrate on the next footstep, not the mountain.

Building out a vision
Building out a vision

Building out a vision is tough. Working out how to deliver is even tougher! We’ve built a one page canvas that helps:-

1. Define your three year goals for your product
2. Think of annual initiatives or themes for years 1, 2 and 3 that drive to that goal
3. Break the annual initiative down into quarterly points of value

It breaks a big problem down into smaller, bite sized steps.

Product business case
Product business case

How do you build out a product business case?

It’s a loaded term and everyone seems to have different expectations. So what is a business case?

In simple terms it’d a model to provide justification for undertaking a project or programme. It evaluates the benefit, cost and risk of alternative options and provides a rationale for the preferred solution. Over the next few days we’ll look at the key questioned needed to be answered at each stage of the business case.

Technique 4 of 4
Technique 4 of 4

Finally, we can use surveys to build a quantitative view of our market. These could be online, over the ‘phone or even postal, but we need to be aware that these type of surveys have the greatest potential for causing resentment on the part of those surveyed and can have very low (less than 1%) response rates. Additionally, respondents may not be representative of the market with just the extremes feeling motivated to complete the survey

Technique 3 of 4
Technique 3 of 4

A one-on-one either in face-to-face or virtual form is a great way of conducting market research . People are more willing to respond in more depth, detail and honesty outside of a group dynamic. But focus groups also fall into this category – a group of 6 to 12 people who are brought together by researchers to discuss a particular situation or reactions to a product.
More than any other technique, the researcher can impact the outcome. Individuals can build a view of the researchers opinion and modify their response based on that. For example, if interviewees believe the researcher has ...

Technique 2 of 4
Technique 2 of 4

Observational market research is a technique which involves directly observing consumers or another target audience in their natural environment - for instance, watching how shoppers stop outside a fashion retailer, what they are drawn to in a window display and which direction they go after entering the store. But be aware OBSERVING is not the same as UNDERSTANDING.

Technique 1 of 4
Technique 1 of 4

Experimental market research is a useful refinement and validation technique. Take two market research groups and change one single variable within the 7 P model. For example, the same product is presented, but the price point is changed. We then gauge reaction to this change.

Market Research
Market Research

Market research is a core product management discipline. It helps us build an evidenced-based view of our market, meaning we’re more likely to make the right decisions more often. So what do we mean by market research? There are many techniques/methods we can use but which is the right one? The graphic below summarises the type of market research that is likely to be most effective at each stage of product development from Ideation through to validation. Over the following days we’ll explain each technique.

Core Value of your product?
Core Value of your product?

Can you describe the core value of your product?

Sounds simple, but some product managers struggle to get to a clear, coherent and concise statement. We use a structure, shown here for a nespresso coffee maker – replace the black text with your words and you’ve got a first-pass value proposition statement.

Big versus Small
Big versus Small

How should product management approach a big idea versus a small idea?

The answer is pretty simple; the process remains the same but the depth and detail is different. We assess, define and deliver all ideas, but we might do that work in a day or a week or a month depending on the scale, the effort, and the risk. And the business case? Its scale is appropriate to risk and reward - no management team wants a 100 page document for a trivial upgrade or a single paragraph when they’re taking a huge risk.

Turning vision into action.
Turning vision into action.

Building a vision is great.

But Product managers need to turn that vision into action – work out how to deliver customer value in incremental as we work towards that vision. We use this vision template to help:

1. Describe the core value you plan to offer (your vision)

2. Work out what the annual goal needs to be that help move towards that vision

3. Describe the incremental customer value you deliver each quarter that move towards your annual goal

Building out the roadmap
Building out the roadmap

Carrying on from the attribute map,

Now we have identified our initial product offer we review our second priority persona and ask the question “What additional user stories need to be developed to build product acceptance with this group?” For example, if a user story required the coffee to be delivered at 85 degrees, a build-on story might request that the coffee machine could keep the coffeeheated to 85 degrees for five minutes post brewing.

We repeat this with lower value personas to build out the attribute map, giving us a view of what we need to initially deliver and how we can...

The attribute map
The attribute map

One of the tools we can use to design our MVP and iterations is called an attribute map and we describe our features in terms of user stories. As reminder, a user story is a development requirement that is expressed as follows:

As a
I want to
So that .

This example focuses on the Nespresso coffee machine:
• Our target segment is for personal use in the home environment.

• Our primary persona is a busy working professional.

• And our priority feature is making a cup of coffee in less then 60 seconds.

• The user story reads: As a bu...

Why do we use it?
Why do we use it?

Why do we use it?

Building the final product takes a long time and is expensive and high risk.Rather than trying to be all things to all segments at the outset, we use the MVP approach to help us prioritize our development roadmap.

The MVP approach helps us to:
• Identify our addressable market.
• Identify and prioritize our segments.
• Identify and prioritize our personas in that segment.
• Identify and prioritize our user stories for our personas.

Careful prioritisation means we can manage the capacity of our development team while still meeting the needs of our customer...

MVP
MVP

This week we’re going to explore the minimum viable product, commonly known as the MVP, and how it helps product managers deliver products faster to market with less risk.
MVPs…
• …increase speed to market and generate revenue sooner.
• …reduce risk with a test-and-learn approach.
• …are market and persona-focused.
Eric Ries, author of The Lean Start-up, first used the term, he described it as follows:
“A minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
...

THE CLOSE step 4
THE CLOSE step 4

And so we approach the end of the presentation. It’s almost identical to the start – restate your major points, what you’d like the team to do next, and thank them for their time.
Nothing guarantees success but using this type of structure irons out a few bumps in the road.

CORE CONTENT Step 3
CORE CONTENT Step 3

Product Managers often present complex content. Imagine presenting a Product Plan at a peer review with a 50 slide deck full of 10 point writing. How do you think your audience would respond?

It’s better to adopt a “less is more” approach. If we take the product plan example, a great way to present it is to build the content into an eight slide deck. Each slide has a heading (the section name) one image (a graph, or picture) and three bullet points. You can then present from it rather than read it.

You’ll get questions as you go, some easy to handle others requiring more thought...

Pick your talking points Step 2
Pick your talking points Step 2

The next major hurdle is the content – what do you want to talk to the team about? We often have complex product ideas to discuss and can quickly get lost as we try and explain them.

So, here’s a simple tip. Pick the three major points you want to talk about and focus on those. It will give your content some structure and direction.

For example, we might say “There’s lots we can talk about around this new product today, but the three major points I want to focus on are:
? Revenue is forecast for $10M by end of year
? New regulation presents a risk
? Two new features promise t...

Start with structure Step 1
Start with structure Step 1

The foundation to a great product plan presentation is structure; your audience want to know some basics. Think about it from their perspective:

? Why am I here?
? How long will I be here?
? What decisions will I need to make?

So tell them!
We can think of that basic structure as a template we use at the start of any presentation.
For example: “The purpose of this presentation is to discuss a new Product Plan.
We need 15 minutes of your time
We’re looking for you to get on board and help us”
Deliver this well and you’re heading in the right direc...

Step 5
Step 5

Forecasting for a new product or service is challenging when we have no historic or foundation data to work from. In our six step process we’ve so far considered:

Step 1 of 6 Find the total available market
Step 2 of 6 Identify key segments to do your research
Step 3 of 6 Understand the life cycle component
Step 4 of 6 Triangulate with qualitative research
The next step is: Step 5 of 6 Underpin with quantitative research

Test your research findings with surveys. Look for proof points and anomalies – feedback that either supports your qualitative research or challenges it. Essen...

Step 4
Step 4

Forecasting for a new product or service is challenging when we have no historic or foundation data to work from. In our six step process we’ve so far considered:

Step 1 of 6 Find the total available market
Step 2 of 6 Identify key segments to do your research
Step 3 of 6 Understand the lifecycle component

The next step is: Step 4 of 6 Triangulate with qualitative research
There’s no substitute for direct market research. Test the proposition with a minimum of three client groups in your target market and also with other relevant stakeholders such as support functions or other pr...

Step 3
Step 3

Forecasting for a new product or service is challenging when we have no historic or foundation data to work from. In our six step process we’ve so far considered:

Step 1 of 6 Find the total available market
Step 2 of 6 Identify key segments to do your research

The next step is: Step 3 of 6 Understand the lifecycle component

Understand where the product or service sits on a lifecycle or adoption curve. This will hugely influence demand. For example, think of the electric car – the Total Available Market is all car owners, but because it’s new and innovative technology, we know...

Step 2
Step 2

Forecasting for a new product or service is challenging when we have no historic or foundation data to work from. In our six step process we’ve so far considered:

Step 1 of 6 Find the total available market

The next step is:

Step 2 of 6 Identify key segments to do your research.

Research is expensive and time consuming. Almost always, it’s better to identify two or three groups within the total available market and focus our research efforts with them. Research group candidates should include groups with the most pressing need for the solution.

Step 1 of 6
Step 1 of 6

How many clients will use a new product or service? It’s a difficult question to answer, but if we can’t put an estimate on product demand then we cannot scale our delivery or support teams. Forecasting for a new product or service is challenging when we have no historic or foundation data to work from. Over the next few days we’ll look at a six step process to help:

Step 1 of 6 Find the total available market

The first step is to work out how many customers could use your product or service – the maximum number of clients across your markets if there was 100% take up (known as ...

Start with the problem
Start with the problem

So many product managers start at the wrong end of ideation- they start with a solution and then look for the market problem. Think about like this; if you were presented with a new product idea right now and were asked if you’d spend your own money developing it, what questions would you ask? Here are my starter questions:

• “What is it?”

• “What problem does it solve?”

• “Who it is solving that problem for?”

• “How is it being solved today?”.

Let’s pause for a moment on those four questions. They’re powerful. Think of products that have failed ...

Technique 6
Technique 6

Technique number 6: TEST MARKETING
And finally, there’s test marketing. The product and its marketing plan are exposed to a carefully chosen sample of the population before its full-scale launch. It’s conducted in real-life buying situations and can last from few weeks to several months. Due to its high cost, however, test marketing is more suitable for fast moving packaged goods

Technique number 5
Technique number 5

Technique number 5: SURVEYS
POSTAL SURVEYS, PHONE INTERVIEWS, INTERNET SURVEYS
Postal, phone and Internet surveys have the greatest potential for causing resentment on the part of those surveyed. And very low (less than 1%) response rates.
Additionally, respondents may not be representative of the market and can misdirect you.

Technique number 4
Technique number 4

Technique number 4: PERSONAL INTERVIEWS

Personal Interview research is a face-to-face meeting. People are more willing to respond in person, but can often tell you what they think you want to hear.

Participants tend to say the first thing that comes to mind or what they think they want. Once you look deeper into it you notice that there’s a lot more that must be uncovered, sometimes what they think they want or why they think they choose a product or service isn’t always the true motivation.

Technique number 3
Technique number 3

Technique number 3: FOCUS GROUP

In focus group research, 6 to 12 people are brought together by researchers to discuss a specific situation or reactions to a product. Questions are asked to the group, who are free to discuss the topics with each other. One key issue is that the research is reliant on the interpretation of group discussion. This can raise questions about observer dependency and validity.

Technique 2
Technique 2

This week we’re running through the techniques for market validation.

Technique 2 - OBSERVATIONAL

In observational research actions of people are watched either by cameras or observers, typically in a natural environment. Using this technique, product managers can see how clients respond to different stimuli and situations. The benefit is that clients are more likely to demonstrate typical behaviour in a natural setting rather than ‘ideal’ behaviour in a simulated or artificial environment. However, what it cannot show is why customers behave in a certain way – their attitudes o...

Technique 1
Technique 1

This week we’ll run through the techniques for market validation. We will describe 6, but feel free to highlight techniques you use

Technique 1 - Experimental

In experimental research, we observe the results of changing one or more marketing variables while keeping certain other variable constant. Are groupings of features. They describe the value that a customer can gain from using the features within a theme.

A theme describes the core value and each feature is a proof point of how that value is being delivered.

Life cycle thinking
Life cycle thinking

Life cyle thinking is something that’s often overlooked by Product Managers. In their rush to launch they neglect to consider how the market will shape and grow. Think about taking a new product to market . Quite naturally, expectations and excitement run high on launch day. But a few weeks later those highs often feel like a distant memory as sales don’t meet projections and the product runs the risk of being perceived as a flop. An understanding of the introductory phase can save lots of heartache!! There are a couple of critical learnings:

1. Most customers wait for others to try ne...

Product Launch
Product Launch

Preparing for market launch is a complex task. Product managers should make this task a little easier with the use of launch checklists. These focus on five main areas:

1) Is the product ready?

2) Does it satisfy a true market need?

3) Are all processes required to support it in place? (e.g. operational support and pricing)

4) Is the market or channel ready to receive the product? These are the sales and marketing teams who are willing and able to handle this product and have an effective delivery plan.

5) Are our customers ready? Do our consumers have all that they need to ...

Level of competition
Level of competition

I was talking to a team who describe their product as having “no competition”. Great news? Perhaps, but think about it like this.

We should think about levels of competition.

1. We might face products similar to ours from competitors that look a lot like us. These are direct competitive threats - think audi vs bmw vs mercedes.

2. Sometimes the competition is less obvious. Its other ways that our customers can solve the problem that we help them solve. These are indirect competitive threats – think car vs plane vs video conferencing

3. Occasionally we see our product having ...

A quick tip on market research
A quick tip on market research

A quick tip on market research.

With all research techniques we should remember that what customers do and say and think is not always consistent. I may LIKE the yellow car. It might be my FAVOURITE colour, but I might BUY the blue car – it stays looking clean, it’s easier to sell, it’s less a risky choice. So remember to ask the same question from many angles and look for consistency:

What is your favourite colour?

Which colour would you choose?

Which will be most popular?

Which colour would your partner choose?

Which colour would you buy?

The Approach
The Approach

Watching paint dry or being presented with an endless list of features that describes everything a product manager is planning to add to their product over the next twelve months. They compete for the title of “Most boring thing I can imagine doing”. From a customer or an internal stakeholder perspective, trying to deduce where the value might be in the list of the 100 features the product manager plans to add is mind-numbing. And the risk? All that hard work from development gets lost as customers simply can’t see the value to them. A better approach is to group features into themes ...

Point of Difference
Point of Difference

What’s your point of difference?
I’m working with a company whose strategy for domination is to build a multitude of similar products so that one of their offers is bound to grab your attention if you are in their market. At first glance, it might seem a strange strategy (vs focusing energies on building one world class product), but with the right infrastructure it can work well – think how the VW Audi group offer a range of cars from the Skoda to the Bugatti with a shared platform approach across many products. The key to making this approach work is two-fold:
1. Each product needs ...

Life cycle Model
Life cycle Model

Got this question from a product manager today “I understand the lifecycle model, but how do I know what stage of the lifecycle my product is at?” Here’s my 50,000 foot view:

You’re in the introductory phase if the majority of your target market has just about heard of your product, and a very small percentage would actually buy “What the hell is an autonomous car?”

You’re in the growth phase if the majority of you target market understands your product and think of it that might be something to consider whilst a significant minority want to buy “I’m going to take a lo...

Presentation Skills
Presentation Skills

Presentation skills; it feels like some have them and some don’t! But for a product manager, being able to present with clarity and conviction is a skill worth working on. Your bright new product idea could fall at the first hurdle if the review team simply don’t understand it or pay enough attention because of how you present. But many product managers fall at the first hurdle – their presentation unravels from slide one as they fail to get the introduction right.

So how should your presentation start? The key is structure; your audience want to know some basics. “Why am I here?...

The perfect PM
The perfect PM

What do you look for in a product manager? We often get asked to assess a potential PM candidate. Outside of their PM knowledge, these are the attributes that I look for:
Communicates powerfully, clearly and credibly
Solves problems and analyses issues
Innovative and entrepreneurial
Inspires
Collaborates and can work I nor drive a team
Builds relationships
Inspires and motivates others to high performance
Disciplined
Focuses on results
Drives for results
Practices self-development
What do you look for in the perfect product manager?

Process
Process

Process. Some Product Managers love it, whilst most of us grudgingly accept it as something we should do . It’s like eating your greens or walking your 10k steps a day. But skip the process and, just like regular exercise or healthy eating, you’ll soon start to find out why it’s important. Without process we introduce randomness – ideas get selected, products get built, and prices get set without clear, consistent and coherent rationale. We end up with an incoherent product set that can confuse our customers. And once a process is broken then everyone feels justified in breaking it a l...

Market Research
Market Research

How do you interpret market research?

I’m currently doing some market research for a new b2b product and trying to answer the most basic question “should we build it” by gathering customer feedback on the problem that the new product solves. So far the feedback has mostly been along the lines of “We’re mildly interested”. So what does that mean? It could mean a number of things (they’re the wrong audience, they don’t understand the problem statement, etc), but fundamentally it means that the research group we’ve spoken to are not going to be knocking our door down to get...

Meeting Customers
Meeting Customers

When did you last meet customers?

I’m amazed how many product managers in the b2b space have no/limited customer contact. Remember, without customer contact you’re doing no more than guessing. Product manager does not need an opinion, they need market gathered evidence.

Find the 3 A.M. problem
Find the 3 A.M. problem

Find the 3 A.M. problem
We work with many teams who want to innovate more – find the next big thing that will propel their business forward. Often these conversations focus on the product “What new shiny thing can we take to market?”. This is not the right place to start. In the B2B world, great products are built on solving real world problems. The bigger the problem, the more motivation there is to fix it. Obvious really, but missed by so many teams on their quest to uncover a winning idea. So, next time you’re looking to innovate, start with this question “What problems are keepi...

What does a product manager do?
What does a product manager do?

What does a product manager do?
Our role can be quite complex and difficult to describe. But if we don’t have a clear purpose then we run the risk of being misplaced in our business (step forward all those product managers who are really sales support or project managers, ....).

Here’s a definition that might help. “Product managers reduce the risk of launching a product flop and increase the success of products in market”. So what does that mean? Well, product failure occurs in every sector. By using a professional pm framework a product manager reduces the risk of a potential pr...

Maintenance vs innovation
Maintenance vs innovation

Maintenance vs innovation
How do product managers balance the needs of their current product versus investing in new ideas? We’re working with a company where about 80% of development effort is directed towards product maintenance, some towards enhancements and the little bit that’s left goes to innovation. The result? A very frustrated senior management team who see a huge spend and nothing new to sell. There can be many reasons behind this (badly architected product, fixed sized dev teams, etc) but it clearly cant be sustained. Our fix? Set a target maintenance spend (say 20%) and a tar...

What is a product
What is a product

What is a product - this question comes up constantly in our world. On the surface this would seem a simple question to deal with , but teams get wrapped in knots as they try to work out what it is that they sell, how they should structure product teams etc.
We think the answer is pretty simple. ‘ A product is any deliverable that provides value (tangle or not) to a target customer group. All products need to be managed, the level of effort being a function of the risk and reward associated with the product’

Product Impact
Product Impact

The impact of getting a product wrong
You can get a product wrong in many ways - badly designed, poorly build, doesn’t solve any specific need, too expensive etc....
We often think of the cost of the mistake in relation to the product - x million in development effort has been wasted, but the cost is much bigger than that. Think of it from a brand perspective. If a company delivers a bad product then customers don’t just reject the product, but they become wary of brand. An example from two brands- Alfa Romeo and Porsche; Alfa have a history of highs and lows. Sometimes they delight,...

Market Research
Market Research

Market research is essential for product managers it centres your business on your consumers and keeps you focused. It allows you to pursue the most lucrative growth opportunities and keeps you relevant and future-oriented it also improves your decision-making capabilities and reduces your risk.

A great example of this Harper Collins found sales of Agatha Christie novels declining.
Quantitative & qualitative research was commissioned, and they found that :
Readers liked “niceness” of the crimes, but covers were gruesome and bloody.

Result: New cover designs commissioned. Sales rose...

Crossing the Chasm
Crossing the Chasm

An article on the bbc this morning described the ‘shockingly’ slow take up of the electric car and how many consumers were unlikely to buy electric for their next purchase. These were my the figures:
- 5.5% of new car purchases are electric.
- 56% of those surveyed were very unlikely to buy an electric car as their next car purchase.

I think they might want to get a copy of ‘crossing the chasm’ in their library. The electric car market is almost textbook adoption model - innovators are in, laggards and late majority need more convincing.

Do you know your customers?
Do you know your customers?

I’m often shocked by how little contact some product managers have with their customers. Think about it for a second - potentially spending huge amounts of money building a product for group of people you’ve never met! I know it’s expensive and time consuming and sometimes difficult, but a product manager who does not regularly meet customers and understands them is really just taking a huge bet at the point of product launch.

Who Does What ?
Who Does What ?

Product owners vs product managers vs product marketing managers!!

We don’t make our life easy in product management - trying to untangle who does what across the multiple job titles we see can be a nightmare.
Here’s my take on it; product marketing managers own markets, product managers own products that serve those markets and product owners own modules that make up those products.

Take the Ford Focus as an example. My model would have a product marketing manager for Ford UK working with the full Ford product set, a product manager for the Ford Focus, another for the Ford Mondeo,...

Discounting
Discounting

Dealing with discounts.

Customers ask for discounts. In the b2b sector it’s pretty unusual for customers not to push the price point down. This is obviously something for sales teams so how does it impact product management?

Firstly, we can help sales teams deal with discount discussions in how we structure the product - a modular approach to pricing means that when a customer asks a £10k solution, we have a £10k product. We can strip out the higher value components and hit the price point with a suitable product offer. But we all know customers often want all the features and the di...

Competition
Competition

Tonight is one of the most important England matches for a very long time. All the way through this competition the team will have been closely looking at their competitors and trying to make sure they understood what they could do to give them the edge and win.

Do you know what your point of difference is with your competitors ?
What do you do differently that gives your product the edge ?

Give this card a try from our 30 Tasks to Improve Product Management card deck.

Communication
Communication

Communication is a vital skill for a product manager. It might be a 5 minute elevator pitch or a full technical review. Either way you need to keep your audience engaged and interested in what you saying. Here are a few tips :

1. Tell the audience why they are there
2. Pick three major points you want to talk about and focus on those.
3. Don't overload your presentation with text and pictures.
4. Keep an eye on time. Use a parking lot to collect points that can be answered later.
5. Don't just deliver dry facts.
6. Deliver with passion.
7. Banish your nerves.

Product Naming
Product Naming

What do think about when naming a product ? There are so many things to consider. Below is an example of BAD product naming. In Iran where this product is made the word "barf" means snow, so ideal for the idea of making your whites nice and bright. However where the product is sold it has a whole other meaning. I don't think anyone wants there clean washing to smell like Barf !

Themed Roadmaps
Themed Roadmaps

A themed roadmap is the perfect framework to manage your product along strategic lines. It enables long term objectives & product deliverables to be realised but can flex to meet shorter term demands or agreed variations on the importance of each product strategy.

Moreover, a Themed Roadmap is a single "view" of product strategies and deliverables that can be used in all discussion with major stakeholders as you seek to gain alignment and agreement on a complex set of future product deliverables.

Product Plan
Product Plan

Are you keeping your product plan up to date?
The product plan is the place that product managers catch all relevant market data. They use it to help direct their product and make evidence based decisions. Contact me if you'd like the latest product plan template from Tarigo.

Product Failure
Product Failure

There is actually a museum of product failure. The purpose however is not to mock those who have failed but to provide visitors a learning experience about the important role of failure for innovation.

Not every product will be a success but we need to look at those failures and learn from them.

How do you innovate and ensure your product success ?

Agile
Agile

Does agile development need agile marketing?

More of a thought for the day - really interested in opinions and how you’re solving this issue....

Over the past few years, agile processes have become the dominant process-type in the development and delivery of technology. Promising a level of agility and customer focus, variants of the core agile method are now commonly used for developing products from gaming apps through to sophisticated medical technology. But whilst product teams have embraced the brave new world of agile, their colleagues in marketing, support, finance and other f...

Is Product Mgmt art or science?
Is Product Mgmt art or science?

Is product management art or science?

I’m helping an organisation build out their product management team. We’ve looked at their needs, built a skills gap canvas and identified what they require in terms of hard skills. Even with all that in place, the stand out skill that I’m always looking for is an ability to balance art and science. You can describe this in a number of ways; creativity and structure, ingenuity and discipline. Great product managers have enough creativity to define a truly compelling proposition and enough structure to get a complex product to launch without droppi...

Managing your manager
Managing your manager

A team I’m working with have an issue with their boss; he is forever coming to them with ‘opportunities’ – ideas and initiatives that might well have merit, but that distract from the current plan and overwhelm the team. Plenty of us have been there, but how can product teams handle this? It’s often impossible just to say “no“ ,and it’s wrong just to blindly accept the ideas and say “yes”, so try saying “why”. For any and every new idea try to quickly validate it with these questions:

• What problem is it solving?

• Who is it solving for?

• How many have...

Product Management & Marketing
Product Management & Marketing

Product Management and Product Marketing

Clarity of the roles and responsibilities across the two disciplines is vital in any organisation.

For many product managers, the role of product marketing may be undertaken by another group or individual in the organisation. It may be considered part of their own role but is often undertaken with lower levels of knowledge & experience.

In some cases, product marketing may not be practiced at all, and a new or improved product "thrown over the wall" to the rest of the organisation and the market!

It is clear to me that the combination of st...

Product narrative
Product narrative

What’s the narrative for your product?

Here’s a quick question. What are Donald Trumps key messages? Love him or hate him, we all know those narratives (make America great again, build a wall, etc). Point is this; brand Trump is very good at building and driving the narrative (again, for clarity I make no opinion on those narratives, other than they’re clear). This makes the Trump proposition clear to the target market. Second question; what’s your product narrative? No narrative and confusion ensues!

Product failure or forecast fail
Product failure or forecast fail

Product failure or forecast failure?
We’re working on a product over the next couple of weeks where the pm believes his product has failed - sales are 10% of forecast. My instinct is that the pm hasn’t taken into account life cycle models, and his disruptive product is simply not being supported by the large market he sees until those innovators (circa 5% of market) buy it, use it, reference it. For new and disruptive products you need success with and innovator before the rest of the market is willing to buy It’s a lesson many teams forget in our impatience to get to the bigger pr...

Product Owner + Manager Team?
Product Owner + Manager Team?

Just off a call with a team working through this issue; how do you structure Product Owners and Product Managers in a team?
It’s a dilemma for many – we often work with teams where there really is not role clarity and often one person is trying to do both jobs. Typically the urgency of Product Owner duties overwhelms the importance of Product Management duties with the net result of very little commercial and strategic thinking taking place – the individual becomes technical, tactical and faces in to the organisation.
Short term this isn’t a problem, but look out over a longer hori...

Reaction to losing a deal
Reaction to losing a deal

How do you react to losing a deal?

I’ll admit that I react badly, but how should a Product Manager really react? After a couple of months of not putting a wrong (we’ve just recorded our best month and will record our best quarter – go team!) we missed a deal. We’ll deal with this using GRIT.

Grieve – In my opinion good losers tend to be infrequent winners so don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Go for a run, beat a punch bag, relax in a hot bath. Whatever your way of dealing with it, give yourself a bit of time to get it out of your system.

Research - Gather as much data as y...

What's in a Name
What's in a Name

What’s in a name.

My kids have recently started requesting biscuits for breakfast. They saw a product called “Breakfast Biscuits” and no amount of talking will convince them that these are plain and simple biscuits. They could be called “Bedtime cookies” or “sports snacks” and they’d still be biscuits. Got me thinking about how important a product name is in giving context and meaning to your audience. Anyone for some cold, dead, wet fish? Thought not, but some of us like Sushi. The name is often the first point of connection with your product or service. Don’t treat it as...

Presenting Product Financials.
Presenting Product Financials.

I’ve just sat through a review of product financials – an hour I’m not going to get back! There was nothing wrong with the data (in this case, a decent P&L), and everything wrong with the presentation. We sat looking at an excel spreadsheet in 8 point font as the presenter walked us through it. The audience was a mix of asleep, confused and grumpy. This is a classic presentation problem; the data is great, the narrative is missing.

My advice? Give the audience the highlights (perhaps ROI, Break Even and total investment), tell them what decision you’re looking for, and then give so...

Market Research Session
Market Research Session

What does a great market research session look like?

I was reminded of this with a team I’m working with. They’re in a B2B market and are conducting early stage research on a new concept. A couple of product managers reported back that their customer visit had gone well. A deeper dive and it was clear that what they really meant was that the customer hadn’t asked any tough questions and so the meeting had been a breeze. This is bad news for the product; interested customers always ask difficult questions (date, price, detail). Think of these as buying signals – if they don’t ask ...

How do you retire a product?
How do you retire a product?

How do you retire a product? It’s easy to dismiss product retirement as unimportant. You’re retiring the product so why worry? Two reasons:

1. Customers - Do it badly and customers aren’t going to be knocking at your door for your next product. You lost their trust.
2. Competition - Get it wrong and you leave the door wide open for competitors to enter and build their position.

Think of retirement as the mirror of market entry - do your research, build your plan, and communicate your position clearly and frequently.

Prod Mgmt is a team sport
Prod Mgmt is a team sport

Product Management is a team sport

The FIFA world cup kicks off today and in a few short weeks one team will be crowned world cup winners. But will the winning team be the best players? Not necessarily. What they will be is the best team; playing in the correct position, working as a unit, understanding their role. I see this in product management way too often; the outstanding product manager ‘played’ in the wrong position (e.g. the launch expert tasked with building an ROI model), the team not knowing who does what in terms of roles and responsibilities, cross-team communication being...

Big vs small business ProdMgmt
Big vs small business ProdMgmt

Big business vs small business Product Management
We train product management in some of the biggest and smallest companies – Last year our biggest client employed over 4,000 people in product roles and our smallest had a product management team of one. So what’s the difference? What does product management look like at these extremes? I’d characterise it like this; DOING VS GLUING. In a big team, the product manager has marketers, pricing experts, launch managers, research teams, etc. Their job is to use those extensive resources to build out the perfect product. They GLUE. In a small ...

Mega Trends
Mega Trends

Mega trends are substantial changes that can impact any aspect of our business. Once upon a time the internet was a potential mega trend, out on the horizon, gathering strength. Some businesses saw it, built or modified their products to accommodate it, and rode the internet wave. Others weren’t so visionary and floundered as the world moved online.

How do we identify mega trends? product managers must constantly look for trends in four broad categories:

· Technology – today we see trends such as A.I or the Internet of Things gathering momentum.

· Social – think of...

Keeping your business case up to
Keeping your business case up to

Product managers understand the need for a business case when they are looking for investment in a new product. It tells stakeholders about customers, markets, competition, and the solution needed to capture those markets. But what about post launch - should the business case be filed and forgotten? The short answer is no – the business case needs to reflect current market conditions to enable good decisions throughout the product lifecycle . Here’s our tip on making this happen; When you launch your product, file a copy of the business case. But also take a second copy and spend a few min...

Differentiate or die
Differentiate or die

Hotel I’m staying at is next to a mall with a full sized funfair - log flume, rollercoaster. The lot!

Got me thinking; high streets often look like ghost towns because they can’t find their point of difference over online retailers. This mall has turned itself into a go-to destination and made shopping a family event. They’ve nailed their point of difference and built something that offers an experience that online shopping can’t touch. So when we hear about the death of the high street we should really see that as the death of the traditional high street. Differentiate or die - a ...

How's 2018 looking so far?
How's 2018 looking so far?

We’re already in June and hopefully you’re in the middle of a great year, tracking to plan. But does your product management team have the right skills to deliver against those business goals you have mapped out over the next sixth months?

We can help keep you on the right track:
1. Build out your market map to turn company vision into actionable product initiatives
2. Map product initiatives to skill needs
3. Assess your team for skills gaps
4. Close those gaps with training

We call this Mind the Gap.

Keeping the vision
Keeping the vision

Today's Product Management lesson comes courtesy of South Pacific. We’re midway through the year and those good intentions form January can seem long gone. Tactics and day-to-day interrupts have diluted your strategic thinking to near zero. Remember this; if you don’t have a product vision there’s every chance you’ll start to drift – engaging in activity that gets you no nearer your goal. Now is a good time to restate that vision and make sure you and your team are at least spending some of the day tracking towards it.

Winning and Losing
Winning and Losing

Winning and losing is part of product management but the way we handle wins and losses can make a difference. Take two extremes:

1. You win a huge new deal and feel unbeatable or.

2. You lose an important deal and feel your product has no hope.

Before opening the Champagne or looking for another job reflect on this; the difference between winning and losing can be wafer thin – one feature, a better reference visit, a slicker sales pitch………. So the product management reaction to winning and losing is not to celebrate or commiserate, but investigate. In simple words FIND OUT ...

Marginal Gain
Marginal Gain

Why Product Managers should sweat the small stuff.
You’re in a market with some fierce and strong competitors. The temptation is to think big “we need a new GUI, we need new features, we need a new product!”. Before going big, think about going small. To win a new deal, you don’t need to be massively ahead of the competition, you need to be marginally better in areas that matter. And being marginally better most of the time turns into market dominance. So step into your customers shoes and think small – what are those little things we could do that might get us across the line first...

Managing a product portfolio
Managing a product portfolio

How do Product Managers make the right investment decisions so that the portfolio is performing well today and will continue to perform well in the future?
We use a dashboard so that Product Managers can make sure the tactical balance is correct (The BCG matrix), the Lifecycle mix is right (ideally we don’t want a portfolio all at the same stage of Lifecycle) , and the fit to longer term strategy is correct (the GE tool)
This gives a balanced view of portfolio

Embedding Training
Embedding Training

At Tarigo we know how important it is to have a holistic view to training . Our training approach is to offer a structure that we believe truly engages the delegates, improves learning outcomes and offering the best opportunity for knowledge transfer. It has three key elements:

? Pre-training preparation
Engaging the delegates so they arrive at training already thinking about product management

? Classroom training
Keeping delegates engaged by making them part of the training

? Post-training reinforcement & continuous improvement
Helping delegates adopt the training and also contin...

Step Ten
Step Ten

Step 10 - How large is the opportunity

This step is where we look at the size of the available market for the product.

"Every Product Manager"

We hope you have found our step through the innovation canvas helpful. we have 10 of the wipe clean boards available FREE to the first 10 people that message.
To get yours email: info@tarigo.co.uk

Step Nine
Step Nine

Step Nine "What are the key risks?"

Every new product idea has risk, but don't get overwhelmed with small issues. What are the big risks that could derail your product - regulation, innovation, etc

" Some people might object to it being a printed piece"

Step Eight
Step Eight

Step eight - What does the opportunity look like three years ahead?

This reaffirms the opportunity has long term potential how will your Product and market develop in 3 years.

"Digital version on iPad and Tablet"

Step Seven
Step Seven

Step seven - Is it a growing market?

Sometimes we take new technology to an existing market, sometimes we build brand new markets for new markets. It's worth understanding if you're in a growth market or not - stage of life cycle will partly define the risk profile for your product - innovation tends to be high risk and high reward.

"Innovation management is a branch of Product Management with significant momentum. We see 65% of customers requesting innovation management as part of their training program"

Step Six
Step Six

Step Six - does it fit with our business model?

Does the idea fit with your sales channel (is it at a price point your channel can support), vision (does it fit with your three year view), and portfolio (does it cannibalise an existing offer). It might be a great product idea, just not for your business

"The innovation canvas is a great extension to our existing canvas suite"

Step Five
Step Five

Step five - who else competes and how are we different?

If there are alternate solutions we need to think what our USP is. Its worth remembering that the difference might be outside the product (service, range, reach, brand, etc) No USP? Price becomes the last point of difference.

"The Innovation Canvas encourages consistency and collaboration. It makes innovation part of the product management process"

Step Four
Step Four

Step four - How is the problem being solved today?

If it really is a problem, your target customer will be trying to solve it. Perhaps in a clunky, expensive, error prone way. If your customer isn't trying to solve the problem today? Ask if the problem is significant to them.

"Mostly in an ad-hoc manner - some ideas just pass through without due diligence, some get lost in email chains, most teams have no mechanism for consistently and coherently responding to new ideas"

Step Three
Step Three

Step three - who does it solve the problem for.

Does it solve for a customer group you already sell to? Targeting new markets is harder and much more expensive.

"it solves for product managers by helping them manage ideas consistently and for other stakeholders by offering a transparent model for idea review"

Step Two
Step Two

Step two - what problem does it solve?

If it doesn’t solve a problem or open an opportunity then where is the value. Think of this from a customer perspective.

”product managers have to handle many ideas from many sources. This tool solves the issue of consistency, transparency, and response-speed for idea management”

Step One
Step One

Over the next few days we’ll look at the innovation canvas - a tool to help product managers assess and qualify new ideas.
Step one - tell us about your new idea. Just a few words that explain it in the language of your target customer.

“ The innovation canvas is a tool that helps product teams assess new ideas in a consistent way. It checks the business rational of the idea”

7 Habits
7 Habits

I hope you've enjoyed the posts about the 7 habits of being an effective product manager. If you want to learn more about this, please join us on one of our Complete Product Management training courses.

Habit 7
Habit 7

Own your product
Product Management is at its best when the product manager owns a go to market proposition, rather than a horizontal piece of technology.
Think of it like this. Being the UK Product Manager for the Ford Focus gives you a real product that you can successfully manage. Being the Product Manager of a global 4 cylinder engine removes that direct customer connection.

Habit 6
Habit 6

Know your market
Let’s not sugar coat this; A product managers opinion is irrelevant. The evidence that they gather from the market they serve is what drives good decision making.
There’s no short cut, product managers must step out of their office and into their customers world on a regular basis if they are to truly know their market and represent its needs.

Habit 5
Habit 5

Get the most out of people
Product Managers have significant responsibility with very little direct authority – we might be measured on a huge revenue stream, but development, sales, marketing and any other team implicated in our product success do not report to us. What that means is that our role is one of influence rather than control. Influence comes from being credible, reliable, clear and consistent. Influential product managers represent the views of their market, and represent them with evidence clarity and consistency.

Habit 4
Habit 4

Communication
Clear communication is a critical product management skill - from presentation to value proposition building, a product manager knows this; If you don’t decide what to say about your product or service, someone else will. Loose control of communication and you loose control of the product.

Habit 3
Habit 3

Work to a process and a plan
Without process all bets are off in terms of what we will deliver. A lack of process means who shouts loudest wins ! We risk delivering products that miss the market need.
Be a process advocate.

Habit 2
Habit 2

-Making Effective Decisions
Hitting the right date window is hard. Give yourself a fighting chance by limiting the communication of lower value features. That way you can descope and deliver on time without delivering below customer expectation.

Habit 1
Habit 1

Stop Firefighting and start strategizing
Product Managers need to balance technical and strategic workload. The risk of just being technical? No long term thinking can mean no long term business. Think Blockbuster, HMV, Kodak. Don’t be the next

Value Proposition Canvas
Value Proposition Canvas

Albert Einstein said that the definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.

This really resonates when some product managers try to describe their product - they struggle to take a complex product and make it understandable.

Can you make your product understandable? Try using this value proposition canvas to make your value statement resonate and be one step closer to a genius product manager!

Bad News and How to Deal With it
Bad News and How to Deal With it

We’ve seen examples recently in the press of companies trying deal with bad news and the damage it can cause to an organisation, brand or product. So how should a product manager deal with bad news about their product?

There are some basic rules to follow that minimise the risk:
Scale it. Work out the size of hole you’re in. Properly understand the issue – the scale, propensity, impacts, etc. You can’t dig your way out of a hole if it keeps getting bigger.
Share it. Be honest about the problem scale. Nothing undermines your credibility more than the constant drip of new informati...

 Who is your customer?
Who is your customer?

As product managers, we often think of our customer as the person or business that uses our product – the end user. But it’s often more complex than that. Reaching that end user often means working with other teams – sales, support, third party resellers, etc. The point is this; If those intermediary teams do not see the value in your product, you’ll never get to the end user. It’s best considered as a value chain – you’re at one end, the end user is at the other. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If the sales team don’t understand it or the third party reseller ...

Leading product management
Leading product management

What are the most important tasks for a leader of a product management team? I’d argue that top of the list is setting out a clear direction of travel. A product vision. Think about it; you could build the perfect team with a perfect set of processes and a perfect execution model, but without vision the team will be directionless. A bit like owning the worlds fastest race horse and then forgetting to point it towards the finishing line. At least show your team the finishing line you’re trying to get to!

Is your price right?
Is your price right?

We know that setting a price for a new product in a new market is based upon perceived or actual value, but what about price points when you’re taking upgrades into existing markets? Here’s a five step process to check if your price point makes sense:
Product Name:
1. Target - Write down the target price point
2. Expectation - How does the target price point compare with pricing over the last three years in the market?
3. Difference – What does your product or service offer as a point of difference? Are these differences tangible and valuable to your target market?
4. Brand – ...

What’s your point of difference?
What’s your point of difference?

How do you find a point of difference when your product doesn’t have one? This is a problem in regulated and reseller markets where lack of differentiation can lead to a price war - when no other points of difference exist, customers choose the cheapest. The trick is to look outside the product; think service, support, reputation, range, reach, brand. Truth is customers rarely buy on a single factor. The surrounding eco system really counts. I was reminded of this using Amazon OneClick; the major factor in my buying decision wasn’t price, it was ease of purchase.

The Product Management...

Setting Goals
Setting Goals

It’s great to set your team or yourself a challenge; it can motivate, give focus and generate energy. But if the challenge is too big, unrealistic or just plain unachievable it will have the opposite effect. I was working with a team recently where this happened; team working well, manager sets impossible target, heads drop, team moral plummets. Think of it like this; If we took an average person off the street and set them a fitness challenge of completing a 5 kilometre run in the next 6 months then we might see them being nudged towards fitness. Take that same person and set them a fitne...

Opinions that matter
Opinions that matter

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the products we try to deliver; opinions on features, dates, design, pricing, etc... This can be frustrating. Worse, it can mean that nothing gets done as contrary opinions challenge your plan and slow things down. The key word here is opinion.

How should we deal with this? Evidence. Opinions lose power when evidence shows up.

Protecting your ideas
Protecting your ideas

In 1989 the anti-smoking campaigns were heating up, RJ Reynolds put $325 million into a new product: smokeless cigarettes.

They didn't work, people didn't buy them. After four months they were pulled from the market.
What tools do you use to make sure your Product ideas don't go up in smoke ?

Market Sizing
Market Sizing

A report out today suggests that 30% of us will “never be willing to buy an electric car”. This stat, produced to sway regulators in some way, should never shock a Product Manager. I’m teaching a market sizing masterclass today and this one slide tells us all we need to know. The lifecycle model suggests that when you’re in an innovator market (e.g. the electric car) laggards and late majority are in no way ready to buy and may well not relate to your product at all. So at least 30% will say ‘no’. Just like they would have done to questions such as ‘will you ever own a pc’ or e...

Dealing with obstacles
Dealing with obstacles

Navigating obstacles is a daily part of Product Management – dealing with product issues, pressures from other teams, workload, worrying about product performance…

Some Product Managers become so overwhelmed that they can’t see anything but obstacles. Their performance suffers, their product suffers, they suffer! Here’s a tip from the world of cycling; instead of looking at the obstacles, look beyond them at where you want to go. Look through the trees and around the rocks. By focusing on where you want to go instead of what you want to miss, the obstacles shrink and that good path ...

Are your team ready for the year ahead?
Are your team ready for the year ahead?

There are many skills that make up the complete product manager; market research, requirements definition, launch planning and retiring to name just a few. In fact, the skillset is so broad that finding all those skills in one person is unlikely and training the team across the full skillset is expensive and time consuming. This paper helps to guide you on how best to get your team in great shape for the year ahead.

There are many skills that make up the complete product manager; market research, requirements definition, launch planning and retiring to name just a few. In fact, the skillset is so broad that finding all those skills in one person is unlikely and training the team across the full skillset is expensive and time consuming. This paper helps to guide you on how best to get your team in great shape for the year ahead.

Turning strategy into action with the Market Map
Turning strategy into action with the Market Map

We’ve all seen strategy documents that lay out the grand vision for our business; how we’ll grow and dominate our markets to gain or maintain a leadership position. But once we’ve read them, and had some time to think we’re often left wondering “How does that relate to me and what am I supposed to do with my product to help deliver on the strategic intent?”. This paper looks at a tool that helps build that link and turn corporate strategy into product action.

Managing through the lifecycle
Managing through the lifecycle

Product management and innovation are intimately connected processes that require skilful interventions to maximise returns at every stage.

Product life cycle, Crossing the Chasm, Entering the Tornado, Sustaining and Disruptive innovation theories model steps to be taken as products move from their birth to infancy and ultimately to their maturity. Familiarity with these theories is critical for product management success. The 7Ps of the marketing mix also provides a framework for different actions that can be taken across the life-cycle.

In order to maximise profit, product m...

Product management and innovation are intimately connected processes that require skilful interventions to maximise returns at every stage.

Product life cycle, Crossing the Chasm, Entering the Tornado, Sustaining and Disruptive innovation theories model steps to be taken as products move from their birth to infancy and ultimately to their maturity. Familiarity with these theories is critical for product management success. The 7Ps of the marketing mix also provides a framework for different actions that can be taken across the life-cycle.

In order to maximise profit, product managers need to firstly understand at which stage the market is at. If the product is new for a brand-new market then disruptive innovation and its techniques are required to move through introduction and growth. If the market is already in the growth/majority phases or beyond then sustaining innovation techniques are essential.

In this paper we bring all of this together, providing a straightforward and actionable guide for all companies and product teams.

Themed Roadmaps
Themed Roadmaps

A themed roadmap is the perfect framework to manage your product along strategic lines. It enables long term objectives & product deliverables to be realised but can flex to meet shorter term demands or agreed variations on the importance of each product strategy.

Moreover, a Themed Roadmap is a single "view" of product strategies and deliverables that can be used in all discussion with major stakeholders as you seek to gain alignment and agreement on a complex set of future product deliverables.

The themed roadmap is a major element of the Tarigo Course

A themed roadmap is the perfect framework to manage your product along strategic lines. It enables long term objectives & product deliverables to be realised but can flex to meet shorter term demands or agreed variations on the importance of each product strategy.

Moreover, a Themed Roadmap is a single "view" of product strategies and deliverables that can be used in all discussion with major stakeholders as you seek to gain alignment and agreement on a complex set of future product deliverables.

The themed roadmap is a major element of the Tarigo Course Product Management Leadership

Measure Success with Product Management Metrics
Measure Success with Product Management Metrics

An informative paper introducing and explaining the many metrics that product managers use to measure, monitor and manage product success.



Product Managers work hard to ensure the success of their product, but how do they measure this success?



Based on work with product management professionals, the paper discusses the many metrics that can be used to monitor performance and presents a framework of categories where these metric can be grouped, to enable improved decision making.

An informative paper introducing and explaining the many metrics that product managers use to measure, monitor and manage product success.



Product Managers work hard to ensure the success of their product, but how do they measure this success?



Based on work with product management professionals, the paper discusses the many metrics that can be used to monitor performance and presents a framework of categories where these metric can be grouped, to enable improved decision making.

Introducing the Tarigo Product Management Skills Matrix
Introducing the Tarigo Product Management Skills Matrix

A free tool to help you assess your current levels of knowledge, expertise and skills. Once completed, you can use it to identify personal development plans and build a successful and rewarding career.



The matrix is based on over 20 years work, leading and consulting with product management teams and acquiring a considerable understanding of the knowledge and skills that make up high performing individuals.


Use the Skills Matrix to


  • Rate your competencies against a number of skills relevant to your role as a product manager.

  • Identify your aspirations in...

    A free tool to help you assess your current levels of knowledge, expertise and skills. Once completed, you can use it to identify personal development plans and build a successful and rewarding career.



    The matrix is based on over 20 years work, leading and consulting with product management teams and acquiring a considerable understanding of the knowledge and skills that make up high performing individuals.


    Use the Skills Matrix to


    • Rate your competencies against a number of skills relevant to your role as a product manager.

    • Identify your aspirations in terms of competency targets you want to set yourself.

    • Build a personal development plan.

    • Establish a common skills improvement framework across an entire team.


The Market Map: Strategic Thinking for Product Managers
The Market Map: Strategic Thinking for Product Managers

A tool to set high level strategies in collaboration with senior product stakeholders.

A tool to set high level strategies in collaboration with senior product stakeholders.

Habit 2 Video
Habit 2 Video

The 7 habits of Effective Product Management

Insights Paper 1: Product Management & Marketing
Insights Paper 1: Product Management & Marketing


Insights into how the adoption of an integrated approach to product management and product marketing can benefit the whole of the product life cycle from enhanced market feedback to faster speed-to-market as well as clarity of product messaging from inception through to launch.



Insights into how the adoption of an integrated approach to product management and product marketing can benefit the whole of the product life cycle from enhanced market feedback to faster speed-to-market as well as clarity of product messaging from inception through to launch.


Insights Paper 2: Product Management in an Agile World
Insights Paper 2: Product Management in an Agile World

Using Agile development and delivery methodologies alongside Product Management strategies and objectives requires a clarity on roles & responsibilities as well as a collaborative approach. Ways to achieve a harmonious partnership across both disciplines are discussed in this second Insights paper.