PM for Newbies – #3 – clearly understand what value PMs bring.

Many times, people ask me, what is it that a PM does. There is a business (operations / marketing /sales) guy who run the business, there is an engineering team who build the product, so what exactly PMs are supposed to do.

And this great post by Marty Cagan at svpg helps me answer that question. Go ahead and read it.

Quick summary

  1. Deep understanding of the user
  2. Deep understanding of the business
  3. Deep understanding of the industry /competition.
  4. Reference Customers
  5. Motivation

So what should we do ?

  1. Users: Talk to users at least twice a week. Try to understand what their problems are, what their behaviour is etc. There is quite a bit of literature on on how to do user interviews on the internet. Tip: This video is nice. If you do not talk to users that frequently, you are going to assume a LOT of things about them. Don’t let that happen. Take data driven decisions. Google Analytics and other analytics is nice, but nothing beats qualitative direct user feedback. I would even argue that the analytics data is like symptoms, in most cases, you wouldn’t see the root cause, unless you talk to users.
  2. Business: Spend time with folks in other non-tech functions – Marketing, Sales, Finance, Operations. This would be give you a solid edge in your job. No other function would know so much about your business as you would if you spend time with each one of them. Park, say an hour, every week for this one. The ROI here is going to far bigger than you can imagine. I have done this mistake of not spending enough time outside of my focus area with other functions & I regret it ! (Even the ones I do not necessarily need to interact with for my product – have been very enlightening and helpful). So please don’t think of this as a low priority, nice to have task in your list. This is as important as your sprint planning meeting.
  3. Industry: Study your competition, follow blogs and news about the industry. But do not spend too much time on it. Spending an hour or two once in two weeks is also fine. This can drain a lot of your energy. So just be judicious on this one.

But be very clear, if you are not doing the above, you are going to take very sub-optimal decisions. The core job of a PM is to take the right decisions about the product.

So do get out of your comfort zone, make a bit of discipline and build awesome products !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s