How I learned to stop worrying and trust the process.

from Shubha A T.

Growing Up Product Management – How I learned to stop worrying and trust the process.

Speaker – Gal Josefsberg, VP Product Management and Marketing, Act-On Software Inc.

“You want to build a startup, you want to build products that people love. When you want to grow a startup you want to build something that people are willing to pay for.”

The first 18 months are tough; things are new, you are still unsure. But there comes a time, when you are more stable and it is time to grow up from being a ‘startup’

All startups need to grow

  • You need to cover expenses, make money!
  • You want to get the product to more people
  • You really want Growth
  • But growth is hard, and PMs have a responsibility towards that growth

What kills products, on the product side?

  • Dilution of vision
    • As more employees are added it is tough to have each person on the board
    • Reduced intimacy towards the founders as teams grow
    • Less buy-in to the vision, as people join your startup as employees
  • Larger teams and products will lead to changes
    • You will not know all parts of the product
    • You will not know everything about the business, there is unfamiliar territory
  • More stakeholders the product manager has to deal with as the company grows
    • Sales, Customer Success folks
    • Customers
    • Partners

How does a product manager face them?

Process and Communication – it becomes essential to build processes and communication to ensure consistency. Process does not necessarily mean bureaucracy.

How to deal with startup growth pangs?

  1. Dilution of Vision
    1. Get your product vision PPT ready – What is the story, get everyone on board, what makes us unique. That is a product managers job.
    2. Present and Share the vision with every single person on the team. Make sure everyone is on board
    3. Include the vision in the stories, how does the product meet that vision
    4. Be willing to listen, Listen to your customers, your sales team, your customer success team, and listen to the stories other people are telling about your product to validate your vision.
  2. Stakeholders
    1. Listen to the sales, the customer success teams, customers, make sure you hear them
    2. Don’t surprise your customers. Let your customers know what you are releasing. Communicate, and over communicate your customers.
    3. Build a communication process, way before the release. Communicate big and small changes appropriately, Communicate on what is coming up ? how is it different ? and how will your life change, for it ?
  3. Communicating Roadmaps in an Agile Shop
    1. Make sure the whole team understands Agile
    2. Measure your velocity; know how much time a project/feature is going to take. Build a buffer. It is important to have a date, and communicate the date.

Communicating with larger teams and products

  1. When the team grows above 10 people, split, 6-8 people are ideal. Be good with delegation.
  2. Teams should be independent
  3. Teams should know the vision and mission, the larger picture
  4. Communicate between teams
  5. This is your chance to grow as a product manager

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