What is the job of a typical on-line Product Manager?

What’s the job of the Product Manager in a cutting edge web development environment? What does the typical diary of today’s web and/or software Product Manager look like?

Product Management business as usual (BAU) activities in scrum.9.30am attend the daily scrum meeting (stand up) with Engineers, Test Analysis. Depending on which functions are being discussed a representative from Sales, Product Marketing, e-Marketing and Usability may be in attendance - after all good Product Managers get everyone involved in the agile process . Identify progress, update the burn down chart and begin to remove those impediments – the usual activities of a typical scrum master. The above should take around X hours.

Product Management and product planning activities.Spend X hours in meetings and ad hoc discussions with business owners in order to get the backlog in order for the next sprint. This will include reviewing backlog items (enhancements, features and bugs) that have been reported by business and technical stakeholders from across the organisation. It’s essential that the backlog items that will be selected for the coming pre-sprint planning meeting are reviewed and that business stakeholders ensure that they are not so fuzzy that the Engineering team are unable to make sense of the individual requirement. In some cases the stakeholder who raised the backlog item will be invited to the meeting to answer questions – however the Product Manager needs to ensure that the stakeholder has a clear view in their mind of what they are requesting - comment like it doesn't work helps nobody!

Product Management Strategic direction
Spend X hours working with senior stakeholders reviewing the product roadmap, reviewing what the competition are doing, discussing any new ideas that may have been put on the backlog and brain storming on any new innovative ideas (making sure they avoid the innovation trap) that have emerged since your last meeting. The result is an adjusted roadmap that feeds directly into the sprint calendar.

Product Management team building and re-charging activities.Meet with fellow Product Managers and discuss what’s happening in their world: what issues they’re facing – can you help them in any way shape or form and vice verse. What items do they have on their backlog and road-maps – is there any synergy in pooling resources to build features that are common to both product teams if so get buy-in from the appropriate holders: team leaders, development manager or business owners (if they are re-charged for the technical resource).

Feedback on performance of the product.One of the key applications for the online Product Managers is a web analytics tool such as Hitbox, Adtech or Google Analytics. So it is essential for the Product Management team be fluent with the use of these tools to be able to measure the success (or otherwise) of online products and the effect of releasing new features and enhancements onto the site. Product Managers need to Listening to the Voice of Customer with Web Analytics.

Routine tasks of the Product Manager.The tasks above don’t include dealing with the dreaded email inbox, fire-fighting issues as and when they are reported, chairing the sprint pre-planning meeting, sprint planning meeting, retrospective and review. That’s not to mention driving the release of the new features through the various processes in order to ensure that the release goes out on time. If your having problems getting through those routine tasks then you'll do good to invest 30 minutes listening to Brian Lawley podcast "How to Get Twice as Much Done in Half the Time".

Product Managers need to get the right balance by measuring and monitoring X hours.
It’s essential for Product Managers to get the right balance between the above activities in order to avoid perpetual fire fighting. Dividing your time across key activities is a fine balancing act at the best of time. However knowing how much time and energy to spend on each activity is dependent upon each Product Managers individual circumstances. One thing I would say is that quality time and energy has to be spent in creating and maintaining product roadmaps – feeding the vision of the roadmaps through to product planning and eventually into sprints that end up being new features and enhancement released onto the web site.
The sooner this type of cycle is established then sooner the Product Manager can break out of the perpetual fire fighting and help desk mode.
The pragmatic marketing group have produced a marketing framework to aid Product Managers get the correct balance between tactical and strategic activities.

1 comment:

  1. Ah...thanks...I wondered what it was I was supposed to be doing