SOS: Mistakes That Every Product Manager Should Avoid!

So last week, India witnessed four new unicorns — and there is always a new product getting out in the market!

There is so much competition and options to choose from. The industry is loaded with ‘kinda similar’ products with their ‘own’ USPs and offerings. Then what makes them unique? What keeps them in demand?

In the pre & post-pandemic world, product management has been constant (and yes, it’s going to remain the same way). Just that with every new day, every product demands a new change and a new variation. 

So the humans behind this, aka the product managers, ought to be efficient, focused, and smart to make the product a boom in the market.

What will it take for product managers to stop being PRD-writers and become outcome driven? Learn from the experts. Apply for NextBigWhat’s Product Workshop [Click For More Details]

Now, this could be really subjective — everyone has their own way of thinking and implementing ideas. But what remains common is their thought process — the decisions they make and the mistakes they commit.

Given below are some of the common yet ‘non-negotiable’ mistakes that product managers end up making in order to make their product BIG!

Working towards a preconceived goal 

A product manager’s job calls for a person’s ability to ask the right questions at the right time. This implies that you should be able to analyse the data provided efficiently, test it and get in touch with your customer/team for valuable insight. 

Working on a preconceived goal is great. However, sometimes it clouds the judgement of a person. As a consequence, the ideas of the product development team are bound within a box. This acts as a corrosive action against the basic idea of innovation.  

Focusing only on customers’ needs

Focusing on customer’s needs is important for every company. However, you must realise that your customer doesn’t possess the creative thinking and enhanced ability your team does. 

If you keep trying to satisfy your customer’s needs, you won’t be able to innovate a revolutionary product. This might keep your company running for now but will lead you to failure in the long run.

Misidentification of features as benefits

Every product has its features and specs. Sometimes, a company creates an amazing product that might work great for techies or the Millenials who want to keep up with modern-day technology. 

But your everyday consumer might not be amazed by the same. This is why you have to analyse your consumer groups separately and keep that in mind while creating a new product.   

Ignorance towards communication gap

One of the major reasons for any product failure is the communication gap between the different levels of the organisation. 

Any product manager should understand, an organisation is just like a bicycle, where you need to keep paddling to move forward. With proper planning and tech by your side, you can keep your team constantly informed and motivated to achieve the desired goal. 

Misidentifying the end-user and consumer as the same

This is one of the common mistakes that most product managers commit. Since their dealing is primarily with the customer or the person with the money bag, they are not able to address the pain points of the end-user. 

To cure this problem, the sales and marketing team can come in real handy. Their expertise and knowledge regarding the customer and his users can help you address the barriers to your product’s success. 

Setting unrealistic timelines

As the competition rises every day, each company wants to deliver their product as soon as possible. This forces a project manager to set unrealistic timelines for his team. This, in turn, affects the quality of the end-product. 

When you are setting up timelines, you should ensure that they are feasible and realistic. Also, don’t forget to consider the different factors that can affect your project’s timeline, for example, the number of resources, number of working hours, time-taken by different processes, etc.!

Obsession with Novelty

A large number of companies are obsessed with the term “new”. They believe that their novelty might create an irresistible temptation in the mind of their users. However, every year, only 5% of the newly launched products see the dawn of success

Quite low, huh?

This is why one should realise, sometimes innovation isn’t enough. A product must be able to add value to the life of its customer. Your everyday user relies on value, and this is what propels the engine of your organisation forward. 

While there are many points that one could share from their own learning and experiences, these are the ‘highlighted’ ones — the ones that need to be bridged. 

If you are a product manager and have got some ‘gyan’ to share with us, drop us an email or say ‘hi’ on our social media platforms. Let the world hear what you have to say! 🙂

Learn #ProductManagement from experts >>>

What is the role of an AI Product Manager?

How should one go about doing product management for AI – based products?

As AI continues to grow in acceptance and use, more companies will require fine tuning of product strategy and the importance of AI product managers will become more apparent.

In this video, Peter Skomoroch, former Head of Data Products @ Workday and Linkedin, talks about both the subjects and how to navigate these challenges.

Prioritize Product Backlogs with these 3 easy steps

In this video, Brian Lawley, author of Product Management for Dummies, provides a simple framework with which you can prioritize features clogging up your product backlog with 3 easy steps.

It consists of a four quadrant matrix that stacks up the features according to effort in relation to value allowing you easily make sense of what needs to be built first.

AMA Notes: “Tons of pain points still worth solving in travel.” [With Aloke Bajpai of Ixigo]

NextBigWhat’s Wednesday AMAs are now something that a lot of you in the product and growth community look forward to, and we do our best to get the top minds who can answer your queries and share their wisdom.

Last week, we had New York Times bestselling author and Founder & CEO of Basecamp, Jason Fried who shared his take on productivity, building products and much more.

In this week’s AMA, we had the co-founder and CEO of one of the most well-known names in the travel sector in India – Aloke Bajpai of Ixigo. As someone behind an incredibly efficient startup, Aloke was able to provide lots of useful advice.

Aloke Bajpai: AMA @ NextBigWhat

The NextBigWhat AMA is supported by the awesome team @GOJEK. GOJEK is hiring great engineers and product leaders for its India offices (checkout the openings here).

Here are a few excerpts from the AMA:

How do you guys measure the success of your content marketing teams?

We don’t have a budget for our content marketing team. Most of our videos were made with very little spend – we rent most of our equipment, and most of the actors in our videos are ixigems. Viral videos are an output of a culture of experimentation and understanding the pulse of your audience and what they are likely to share. We measure success by how much our videos get talked about and shared. [Read More]

In a highly competitive market like OTAs, how did you go about identifying your differentiator?

We started out as a meta-search, comparing OTAs with one another and airline site fares. Over time we became a marketplace, and now, considering our scale and reach among next billion users, for many of our business lines we are the merchant / OTA. Our differentiation has been to always start with innovations that saved time/money and anxiety for travelers without trying to sell them something. Turns out once that trust is built, they will buy from you as well. [Read More]

What does ‘Building For Bharat’ (as espoused by Rajnish) entail today for ixigo and what should it mean for startups in general? Considering that many of the technological shackles that held the ecosystem back have been either removed or are on the verge of removal.

Building for Bharat is about understanding the needs of someone from Etawah and Neyveli as effectively as the ones for Delhi and Bengaluru. It is about understanding the pain points of a first time internet user with a Jio device. It is about connecting with someone who doesnt write / speak in English, or even Hindi. So technology can play a big role by localizing and simplifying the user experience, but there is also a psychographical understanding that needs to be developed for this market. [Read More]

How has your understanding of PMF evolved over the last few years ?

Most of our successful products created or opened up new markets and so PMF discovery was harder for us. What we found is PMF is not static, and that is a huge advantage for nimble startups who can iterate fast. Once you find it, you need to constantly evolve to maintain it, because the market discovers and moves rapidly to the best product or offering. [Read More]

Are there any pain points in travel that you still feel are inadequately addressed and which excite you to solve?

Tons of them. Despite being the industry that kick-started e-commerce in most countries and considered a “mature” internet industry by many, there are glaring big gaps and voids in the industry even today. Every moment of anxiety in a traveler’s life from inspiration to planning to research to booking to in-trip experience to sharing is up for disruption even today. [Read More]

Being capital efficient: How do you define that within your team? How do you measure that ? How does one build a culture around it?

Doing more with less, and keeping an eye on cash. We have a daily P&L sheet to keep track of how much money we made or lost in the business every single day. Our marketing budgets are derived from a % of revenue we want to invest back into growth, and more dependent on LTV/CAC achieved than having fixed budgets. We do a lot of barter deals even at scale. Our hiring process is a non-scalable one with founders still doing last rounds so we end up hiring fewer people every year, and we think hard before throwing people at problems. [Read More]

[Read the rest here]

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If you are getting into Product Management, do apply for the upcoming cohort of NextBigWhat’s Product Management Course.

Aside, the next AMA is scheduled for Wednesday — go ahead and join the community of DOERs and stay

AMA Notes: “Every business is a mathematical function. Master the variables and you are golden.” [with Shashank Mehta of Razorpay]

NextBigWhat’s Wednesday AMAs have now become quite a fixture, with some absolute stars of the product and growth community making themselves available to answer a flurry of in-depth questions and queries on topics ranging from growth & analytics to product management.

In the week prior to this, we had Deepak Abbot, VP of Product @ Paytm share key insights on what makes the growth tick at Paytm & much more.

And in this week’s AMA, we had the pleasure of hosting Shashank Mehta, Director of Product Strategy at Razorpay to talk about Product Management career and had an extremely lively conversation.

The NextBigWhat AMA is supported by the awesome team @GOJEK. GOJEK is hiring great engineers and product leaders for its India offices (checkout the openings here).

Here are few excerpts from the AMA:

How does Razorpay defines product roadmaps? As head of product strategy, what framework do you use to decide on the roadmap?

We follow annual targets in the form of OKRs and quarterly roadmap. Process is largely what I’m describing below. It’s tough to cover all the nuances on the go but I’ll call out some key aspects

  • Information Gathering
    One of the advantages of B2B over B2C is that clients are very vocal with their requirements. Our PMs go on a lot of client meetings to get first hand understanding of what is needed. We also conduct brainstorming sessions with our sales team, account management team, support team etc. since they are client facing.
  • Evaluating ideas
    Key thing to handle in this stage is the non-asks of customers and also going deeper into what exactly the client wants. Our job isn’t to churn out features on the basis of direct customer asks. We then estimate the impact and effort of the ideas.
    These ideas are also looked at from the annual goals perspective. The annual goals are in themes with measurable targets. Four themes we are currently chasing: growing our core business, diversifying our revenue, improving customer experience and improving sustainability.
  • Strategic focus
    At Razorpay we like to take a long term horizon view of things too. That’s how RazorpayX and Razorpay Capital came out. For these kind of projects we follow an extremely quick prototype and test ideas approach wherever possible post market study. RazorpayX v1 was launched in 45 days and Razorpay Capital MVP was launched in a couple of weeks. These kind of projects follow their own planning and a rapid action team is created for experimenting.

 I am an engineer with ~8 years of work experience. How do you think I should go about switching to a product manager function?

One of the most important behavioral aspect of PM is ownership and taking responsibilities. Being an engineer, I’m guessing you would be seeing customer issues/asks etc. Can you take up some of these? Maybe go to customer meetings to understand their asks and write the concept note that a PM can take forward? Go through support tickets to see if you can identify some issues that you can go deeper on as a PM?

Basically simply standup an start acting as a PM. In great orgs this should work well.

I was an engineer at Razorpay for 2 years before I moved into product management (I was the first PM at Razorpay). My movement into PM happened because I was doing almost everything a PM does without the company asking me to. And when the need was felt to add PMs, it was extremely easy for me to take it up full time.

What are the ideal few things a Product Manager should do at a new firm?

Every business is a mathematical function. Master the variables and you are golden.

Eg: A super simplified example
Rate of growth of revenue for Netflix = (rate of growth of new users – rate of churn) x pricing

It’s your standard mathematical form of f(g(x)), really.

So I strongly recommend understanding the levers of growth of the company you have joined. Then look at things from this lens. Things like vision, customers, features etc.

Another thing I recommend is to understand the reason why every job role exists in the company. Why is there an account management team? Why is there a digital marketing manager? What are their KRAs? This will give you a crash course on what matters for the company and why.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. So I have tried to cover some not so usual models that I like!

[Read the rest here]

» Subscribe to NextBigWhat Community Updates.

If you are getting into Product Management, do apply for the upcoming cohort of NextBigWhat’s Product Management Course.

Aside, the next AMA is scheduled for Wednesday — go ahead and join the community of DOERs and stay

Product Roadmap Templates Collection To Help Kickstart Your Own

A Product Roadmap is an extremely crucial part of Product Management. However, many Product Managers find it difficult to get started in setting up a meaningful template with properly architected information in which they can incorporate the vision, targets and goals as well as the timeline of the product they’re working on.

To help solve this confusion, we have created a collection of product roadmap templates here which will help you by giving you a kickstart when it comes to setting up the roadmap of your product (aside, NextBigWhat Academy also runs Product Management Course enabling you to get most practical hands-on knowledge on product management).

Make sure to bookmark this page and revisit it from time to time as we will keep expanding this collection going forward.

Product Roadmap Template

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7 Important Skills For A Product Manager

A Product Manager’s basket of skills and responsibilities are so large that sometimes it isn’t immediately obvious as to the broad skills or skill-like aspects of Product Management that he/she must be aware of. In this video of a Google Ventures/Greylock Partners event in San Francisco featuring Johanna Wright, Craig Walker, and Adam Nash, this exact subject is talked about and experienced PMs offer their views.

Key Takeaways:

1. Familiarize yourself with the technical aspects, so you know what is possible or not possible.
2. Vision & Leadership are important to work with engineers.
3. Software is a team sport, so get used to dealing with disagreements.
4. Worry about everything. From small things like FAQs to PR & Marketing.
5. Know your product and the users really, really well.
6. Be tenacious. Your ideas may be rejected, but stick by them and continue motivating the team.
7. Collaboration and partnership with tech team is extremely crucial so develop a good rapport.

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

Why Roadmaps Are Important For A Product Manager

Roadmaps are an extremely important part of Product Management. By creating and maintaining detailed roadmaps, Product Managers help a team stay on track and focus on execution as well as the finer details of prioritizing what is important for a product and its users.

In this video, Todd Birzer of Kevolve Product Management offers a well-rounded and short intro to Long-term product roadmaps, how to go about them and why they’re necessary to maintain sanity in a team’s workflow.

Key Takeaways:

a. Roadmaps are time-based charts showing the planned evolution of a product & service.
b. Roadmaps help prioritize technology investments.
c. Help build breakthrough, market-leading products.
d. Provide long-term, sustained advantages.
e. New product development process: Market Intelligence -> Strategy -> Technology assesment -> Innovation ideas -> Roadmap -> New product development -> Launch
f. Roadmaps must be made by a Product Manager in alliance with R&D team.
g. Establish a roadmap team: A small group of senior Product Managers & R&D team staff.

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

What Do Product Managers Actually Do?

What do Product Managers actually do? And by that, I mean what actual work does a PM do?
In an incredibly thorough introduction to the world of Product Management, Josh Elman of Greylock Partners, who has also worked at Twitter, Facebook Connect, LinkedIn and more, provides a detailed walkthrough of the same.

Key Takeaways:

Broad responsibilities of a Product Manager:

  1. Define the market & customer.
  2. Launch timing, sales and marketing collateral.
  3. Define the problem and value proposition.
  4. Competitors, products & capabilities
  5. Define the requirements and roadmap.
  6. Internal/External stakeholder communication.
  7. Product evangelist and champion.

On the team:

  1. You are not a ‘CEO of the product’. You’re a team leader.
  2. Set the cadence.
  3. Brainstorm effectively.
  4. Manage product operations.

Shipping > Perfection:

  1. Helping your team only matters if you ship the right product to the users.
  2. Providing clear criteria for launch readiness.
  3. Make the difficult tradeoffs.
  4. Prioritize ruthlessly.

Key Point:

  1. The Product IS NEVER FINISHED.
  2. There is no right product…but there is a right way to be a Product Manager.
  3. Effective Product Managers simply help their team move forward.

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

Why The Product Manager Is A Team’s Best Friend

Product Managers are an indispensable part of any organization, but as with all positions, sometimes they do come under fire when it comes to evaluating the value they bring to the organization. In this entertaining video from the Shift Conference, Marc Abraham, an experienced product management practitioner, who is Chief Product Officer at Settled, tells us why a Product Manager is a developer’s and a team’s best friend. And why the supposed acrimony between devs and Product Managers is overstated…

Key Takeaways:

The What Element:

  1. The Product Manager can come up with the seed of an idea –
  2. – with potential solutions to explore
  3. – they tell the product and customer story
  4. – and get people thinking

The Why Element:

  1. The Product Manager explores the ‘why’ of a product in a methodical manner.

The How Element:

  1. The Product Manager can support engineers when implementing the solution and –
  2. – ask stupid (but useful) questions
  3. – agree on features (not) to include
  4. – act as a shield for the team
  5. – make tough trade-off decisions

The Solve Element:

  1. The Product Manager continues to champion –
  2. – continuous learning
  3. – the customer
  4. – continuous product improvement (or not, in the case of unnecessary features)

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

Product Management For Dummies – What does it take?

Ben Sampson, VP of Product Management at Outsell, Inc., provides an entertaining, short and useful introduction to Product Management for newbies. Going over the typical path that leads many to Product Management, his talk at Biz Talks Chico identifies the typical responsibilities of Product Managers and what it takes to be a good one.

Key Takeaways:

What does Product Management consist of:

  1. Business Development
  2. User Experience
  3. Research Design
  4. Managing Developers & Designers
  5. Sales & Marketing
  6. Testing/Surveying
  7. Repeat ^

Typical day in the life of a Product Manager:

  1. Morning Stand-up
  2. Sales Development
  3. UX/UI Design
  4. Product Research
  5. Development Check-in
  6. Documentation/Writing
  7. Future Planning

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

Why Be 10X Rather Than 10% Better

Referencing famous case studies from the past, Ken Norton from Google Ventures, spoke about how a number of companies threw away advantages gained over a long period of time by optimizing incrementally and not thinking big. He explains his view that making something 10x better is more preferable to making it 10% better.

Key Takeaways:

  1. “It’s often easier to make something 10x better than it is to make it 10% better.” Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots, Google[x]
  2. Failure must be an option.
  3. People want to do great work.
  4. People perform best on problems that interest them.
  5. They need transparency.
  6. Use data, not opinions.
  7. Measure impact, not effort.
  8. Be bothered by limitations.
  9. Bet on trends.
  10. Try a macro approach to all problems.

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

How should Product Managers deal with AI-based products?

Do traditional Product Management methods allow for efficient management of AI-based products? In this video, Michael Feng, a founder and product manager who has been building AI-driven products for the past 5 years, shares his view on the same and provides a framework on how to go about managing AI productively.

Key Takeaways:

AI Product Managers own the questions:

  1. What problem are we solving?
  2. Why is that problem valuable?
  3. Do we have relevant data that may solve the problem?
  4. How do we measure success?
  5. Are we building a system that learns?

Other key points:

  1. ‘Labeled’ data is the new oil. Unlabeled data is the new dirt.
  2. Understand the relevant model.
  3. Get labeled data.
  4. Construct a feedback loop.
  5. Measure relative performance.

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

A Product Manager’s First 90 Days: What all should you do (and don’t)?

A Product Manager has to deal with a whole host of responsibilities from the moment he/she joins a firm. The ideal timeline for the first 90 days has been nicely articulated in this video by Todd Birzer of Kevolve Product Management. Starting from initial market research to working with the development team, here are the key takeaways:

  1. Learn – via Ethnographic Research and Competitor Analysis.
  2. Strategy – Create Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that are important.
  3. New Product Development – Build Discovery and Delivery process and Development Buckets with Engineers and Designers.
  4. Initial Pricing Analysis.
  5. Build Credibility.
  6. Create Early Wins.

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

What is the difference between Product Marketing & Product Management?

When does a firm require a Product Marketing Manager to offload some of the market-related tasks from the Product Manager? And what does that involve? And what are the benefits of such a move? In this video, 25|25 Marketing breaks down the roles and responsibilities of a typical Product Marketing Manager and why and when the role is necessary.

Key Takeaways:

Responsibilities of a Product Marketing Manager:

  1. Marketing Program Management
  2. Targeting, Messaging & Positioning.
  3. Market, Segmentation & Competitive Analysis

Types of marketing programs:

  1. Introduction – Brand Awareness & Lead Generation
  2. Growth – Demand Generation
  3. Maturity – Account Penetration & Referrals
  4. Decline – Retention & Loyalty
  5. Other – New Features, Complimentary Products, End Of Product Life

Key ingredients for Marketing Programs:

  1. Persona Mapping – Identifying the target segment and personas.
  2. Content & Delivery – Creating compelling content and engagement plans.
  3. Business Objectives – Should be related to product lifecycle.
  4. KPIs & Measurement – Rapid assessment of program effectiveness.

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

What Are Product Development Best Practices?

Michael Smith, a Product Manager for Ads at Google in London, spoke at Campus on Product Development best practices and the most important things for a Product Manager to focus on during the period.

Key Takeaways:

What’s most important?

  1. Users
  2. Understanding the market
  3. Usage info
  4. Good reviews
  5. Ship by dates
  6. Beating the competition
  7. Network effects
  8. Long-term metrics
  9. Short-term metrics
  10. “Sometimes you build the product. Sometimes you build the product that helps you build the product.”

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!