Product Management Essentials
Tools and Techniques for Becoming an Effective Technical Product ManagerPaperback Engels 2017 9781484233023
Gain all of the techniques, teachings, tools, and methodologies required to be an effective first-time product manager. The overarching goal of this book is to help you understand the product manager role, give you concrete examples of what a product manager does, and build the foundational skill-set that will gear you towards a career in product management. To be an effective PM in the tech industry, you need to have a basic understanding of technology. In this book you'll get your feet wet by exploring the skills a PM needs in their toolset and cover enough ground to make you feel comfortable in a technical discussion. A PM is not expected to have the same level of depth or knowledge as a software engineer, but knowing enough to continue the conversation can be a benefit in your career in product management.
A complete product manager will have a 360-degree understanding of user experience and how to craft beautiful products that are easy-to-use, with the end user in mind. You'll continue your journey with a walk through basic UX principles and even go through the process of building a simple set of UI frames for a mock app.
Aside from the technical and design expertise, a PM needs to master the social aspects of the role. Acting as a bridge between engineering, marketing, and other teams can be difficult, and this book will dive into the business and soft skills of product management. After reading Product Management Essentials you will be one of a select few technically-capable PMs who can interface with management, stakeholders, customers, and the engineering team.
What You Will Learn
Gain the traits of a successful PM from industry PMs, VCs, and other professionals
See the day-to-day responsibilities of a PM and how the role differs across tech companies
Absorb the technical knowledge necessary to interface with engineers and estimate timelines
Design basic mocks, high-fidelity wireframes, and fully polished user interfaces
Create core documents and handle business interactions
Who This Book Is For
Individuals who are eyeing a transition into a PM role or have just entered a PM role at a new organization for the first time. They currently hold positions as a software engineer, marketing manager, UX designer, or data analyst and want to move away from a feature-focused view to a high-level strategic view of the product vision.
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Dedications / Special ThanksThank everyone who made this book possible. Also, thank team of PMs who will help edit, revise, and consult.
Foreward: Robert T. Monroe - Assistant Professor of Business Technologies, Carnegie Mellon UniversityBob Monroe is an assistant professor of business technologies at Carnegie Mellon University. He is responsible for overseeing and contributing to the development of the upcoming Masters in Product Management degree program set to be confirmed in late 2017. Bob has years of experience in industry and academia, and he will briefly chat about how product managers have the capability (and responsibility) to influence the next generation of technology innovation.
Chapter 1: IntroductionBrief author introduction. Describe the three dimensions of product management, and cover the logical flow of the book. Emphasise the fact that the PM role is fluid, and the book is intended to act as a cookbook of foundational skills to get started. Encourage readers to get their hands dirty by attending meetups, diving deeper into the sub-topics, and building their own product (app, website, etc.).1) What the &$#! is product management2) Project vs. program vs. product management3) The product management spectrum (Apple, MSFT, Google)
Chapter 2: Guiding PrinciplesEstablish the pillars of product management, and the principles to live by. Each principle represents my view on the important points of focus, and helps the reader understand the place of a PM within a tech organization. 1) Kill your ego2) You're not the expert3) Make decisions4) Become comfortable with ambiguity5) Ask the right questions
Chapter 3: The End-to-End Product JourneyHigh-level overview of the software development process, starting with user needs, all the way through development, design, and conclusion. I will dedicate a paragraph or so to each point, and follow up with a detailed view later on in the book. 1) Identify user needs2) Research3) Requirements definition4) Implementation5) Iterate6) Metrics7) Feedback
Chapter 4: Industry Spotlight - Q&A with Min Li Chan - Senior PM at Waymo (formerly Google-Self Driving Car Project)Min L is a seasoned PM veteran at Waymo (Google). I will ask her 4-5 questions around her day-to-day, the complexities of being a PM on an emerging technology, and her advice on specialization areas for aspiring PMs.
Part II: Technical FoundationsTo be an effective PM in the tech industry, you need to have a basic understanding of technology. In this section, we'll get your feet wet by exploring the skills a PM needs in his toolset, and cover enough ground to make you feel comfortable in a technical discussion. A PM is not expected to have the same level of depth or knowledge as a software engineer, but knowing enough to continue the conversation can be a benefit in your career in product management.
Chapter 5: Understanding The Software StackEstablish the importance of knowing the basics of a software stack. Emphasize to the reader that they don't need to be a software engineer, but a rudimentary understanding of what is being build is necessary to avoid common pitfalls. Plus, it builds confidence in the engineering team if you can communicate with them without slowing down the pace of the conversation. In essence, the reader will learn enough to be dangerous in a technical environment. 1) A conceptual understanding of programming languages2) Mechanics of the internet 3) Front and back end paradigm
Chapter 6: SQL QuickstartHelp the user get up-to-speed on basic data querying in ten pages or less. Also, provide background on databases and UML diagramming. SQL is single-handedly one of the top skills required for the PM role. PMs need to be able to query data fast, and if you can learn the basics of SQL, you don't need to use precious software engineering resources to fetch data at will. 1) SQL statements2) Basic joins3) Database design (UML) intro
Chapter 7: Analytics are EverythingAnother equally important skill for a PM is to learn from the analytics. Identifying trends and influencing the product designs based on empirical data is crucial, and tools exist to assist the PM in this process. The focus won't be on any tool specifically, but the chapter will communicate the importance of collecting clean, reliable data. 1) Pattern recognition2) A/B testing3) Collecting the right metrics (Google Analytics) Chapter 8: Industry Spotlight - Q&A with Vivek Bhupatiraju -PM at TUNEVivek focuses extensively on data and analytics as a Product Manager at TUNE. He will shed light on why analytics are important and steps to become a data-driven product leader in this short Q&A.
Chapter 9: Software Development MethodologiesIn this section, I'll chat about the different development methodologies: waterfall, agile, scrum, and kanban. Each one has a purpose and place, but the main idea is to get the user to understand that agile development is better suited in a software dev environment and that traditional waterfall methodologies have flaws. 1) Waterfall2) Agile / Scrum3) Kanban
Chapter 10: Deconstructing System DesignSystem design questions are common in PM interviews, and this section will tie together the concepts learning in this chapter. Walking through the steps to solve a system design problem will also give readers insight into the thinking patterns of a PM. 1) Reverse engineering a system design question2) Design a theme park (non-technical example)3) Design a Twitter clone (technical example)
Chapter 11: Industry Spotlight - Q&A with Shanthi Shanmugam - PM at FacebookShanthi is a PM at Facebook and ex-PM at Workday. She will shed light into what enticed her into becoming a PM, her work at Facebook, and how we can recruit more women engineers into the PM position.
Part III: Design FoundationsA complete product management will have a 360 understanding of user experience and how to craft beautiful products that are easy-to-use, with the end user in mind. This section will walk through basic UX principles, and even guide the user through the process of building a simple set of UI frames for a mock app.
Chapter 12: Mindful UXDescribe the importance of designing usable products. Allude to products that failed due to improper design and lack of usability testing. Allude to real-world case studies (tech and non-tech) and refer to the increased importance of user experience research. 1) UX vs UI design2) Case examples: HotelTonight3) Democratizing design4) Accessibility 5) Affordance
Chapter 13: User-Centric DesignWalk through the techniques of gathering initial feedback from customers / users. Talk about the right way to deploy surveys, draft up storyboards, etc. Also, touch on integrating usability testing into the development process. 1) Observe, understand, analyze2) Surveys3) Interviews4) Persona development 5) Storyboarding6) Usability Testing
Chapter 14: Rapid PrototypingDiscuss the process of creating a minimum viable product (MVP) before moving into heavyweight development. As a PM, you need to be able to test a product with a proof of concept before moving into the build phase. This chapter will explore key ways to develop low cost prototypes to gauge user interest and need.1) Low-fidelity mocks2) High-fidelity wireframes with Balsamiq3) Polished mocks (Sketch)
Chapter 15: Industry Spotlight - Q&A with Daniel Csonth - PM at McKinsey & CompanyDaniel is a PM at McKinsey & Company with experience at a handful of diverse techn companies. He will shed light into how his experience has differed at each organization, and the pitfalls to watch out for in the PM role.
Chapter 16: The good, the bad, and the unusableConcrete examples of software and hardware products (along with non-tech products!) that exemplify the idea of a good, bad, or terrible product. Users will begin to frame their thinking in everyday life to identify product shortcomings, and brainstorm ways to improve the experience of product interactions in their day-to-day. 1) Examples of good UX2) Examples of bad UX3) Examples of terrible UX
Part IV: Business & Management FoundationsAside from the technical and design expertise, a PM needs to master the social aspects of the role. Acting as a bridge between engineering, marketing, and other decisions can be difficult, and this section of the book will dive into the business & soft skills of product management.
Chapter 17: Playing The PartCover the soft skills of product management. Talk about how the PM does not always formally manage the engineers, and how you can build trust within the organization in order to make things happen. 1) Leadership without authority2) Influence3) Negotiation 4) Adaptability
Chapter 18: Product StrategyThe true meat of product development and the core of what a PM should know. Talk about what rules to follow when thinking about entering a market, and the research associated with kicking off new product development. Advise on how to write PRDs and roadmaps, and break down the necessary components of all the deliveries that are required. 1) Become an expert on the product / space2) Provide value for the user3) Go-to-market strategy4) Revenue / Cost models / Pricing5) Product Requirements Document (PRD) 6) Product Roadmap
Chapter 19: Crossing The Finish LineClose the book by talking about launching, maintenance, and lessons learned. Point the reader to other resources and wish the well on their product career! 1) Launch & Iterate2) Postmortem3) Dealing with failure4) Next steps
Chapter 20: Industry Spotlight - Q&A with Gary Vaynerchuk - CEO of VaynerMedia, Venture Capitalist, Best-Selling AuthorGary is an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and social icon. He has invested in high-growth companies in their early stage (Uber, Twitter, Snapchat) and will provide insight on what makes a company a winner, and how to tell when it's time to abandon an idea and rebuild.
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