21 Product Management Best Practices

November 21, 2022
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Product management includes its creation and promotion as a whole because managing a product begins at the very first step and continues till its launch. It involves a number of steps, including coming up with an idea for the product, mapping out how you'll promote it, checking to see that it actually works, making some educated guesses about how much it will sell for, and then releasing it to the public. Briefly put, a Product Manager combines the roles of strategist, analyst, marketer, and business executive. As a result, the significance of best practices in product management can be estimated.

At each of a product's major transition points in its lifespan, a separate set of specialists from a wide range of industries and fields gets to work on it. Product management is essential at every turn, whether it's creating a business case, finishing out development, or setting a release date. To succeed, we must stick to standard procedures for product management.

A Product Manager is responsible for all stages of the product's development. If you're interested in a job in product management or just want to learn more about the topic, read on for a rundown of some of the Product Management Best Practices.

1. Avoid Tunnel Vision

When Product Managers suffer from tunnel vision, they get overly fixated on a single aim and begin viewing everything through the prism of that goal. This may cause Product Managers to ignore all other possibilities to pursue one. All information that is consistent with the idea is given more weight, while information that is inconsistent with it is ignored or downplayed. Lack of peripheral vision can hurt a Product Manager's ability to think strategically, motivate their team, and solve problems.

Product Managers can think and act linearly – one thing at a time – or get so involved in a project or problem that they neglect to see what is happening around them. Deliberating for a long time won't help you when you need to escape from a dangerous scenario. As an alternative, you should make a call in light of the situation's specifics. Most choices in product management shouldn't have dire consequences.

In truth, the allure of a hasty resolution is the same in product meetings as it is in a matter of life and death.

Ultimately, it's important to set up safeguards that make the decisions made at a product meeting seem right. Guidelines for preparation and discussion can help meetings make better decisions and keep people from succumbing to tiredness and settling for bad ideas.

2. Develop Your Product Sense

When it comes to creating and improving products, product sense is the ability to continuously construct things that have the desired effect on their users. Empathy helps identify consumer needs, and creativity helps develop innovative solutions. You have good product sense if you've championed successful features or products others missed. Strong product sense creators created:

MailChimp's original focus on the SMB market drove the Atlanta-based firm to industry dominance. A  private marketing agency built a great email client that businesses paid for. Early versions of MailChimp cost money, and eight years of billing satisfied consumers. 

MailChimp's fan base and strategic strategy contributed to its freemium success. Some users expected to switch to free. They were willing to pay the cost to reach customers who could profit from their services.

With small businesses in mind, this platform came into existence. Some firms can survive with less than 2,000 email subscribers because it can take six to ten years to earn a profit, providing they don't go out of business first. If MailChimp helps small and new businesses expand, they'll upgrade to a premium subscription as revenue increases.

As MailChimp expanded, they allowed their customers to do the same. That same year the product's professional edition came into existence. To do this, they culled insights from customers, in-house experts, and 14 years of email marketing data. A/B testing and reporting are available in the Pro plan, essential tools for expanding larger enterprises, and the professional marketing efforts of marketing experts.

When it comes to giving control back to small businesses and marketers with the right product sense, MailChimp has done a lot of things well. Insights provided by product sense directly impact customer satisfaction and profitability. But how can you develop a strong sense of your product?

Empathy-building strategies:

  • Look at how people use the products.
  • Deconstruct everyday products to learn more about them

Improving creativity:

  • Think like a brilliant product developer.
  • Never stop learning about new developments in your field and the latest technological advances.

3. Learn to Crafts OKRs

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), like other frameworks, have no "proper" use and can be structured better based on your abilities, goals, and needs. Product management OKR implementation should be based on predicted benefits.

The “WHY” can be a critical step in the process. In your product management, you might begin by asking the following questions.

  • Do you notice any recurring themes?
  • Why do we need to use OKRs?
  • What kind of structure is to be built? 
  • What do we hope to accomplish in product management with OKRs?

After settling on OKR changes:

  • Start measuring progress as soon as possible.
  • Don't try to transform your company in days.
  • Prioritize the most important project aspects.

A more reachable goal will help you improve your OKR process without feeling overwhelmed by meetings, routines, and criteria. Without precise facts, it's hard to answer "How will our product fare at the end of this cycle?" Allowing people to set their goals doesn't tell them what to do. The Product Manager must receive or create OKR inputs.

Include elements such as:

  • Quarterly or annual company/department reports product vision and product strategy 
  • Existing theme-based product roadmap elements and previous OKR sets
  • Discovery Insights in the form of verified user problems and solutions.

Product Managers require a clear understanding of why they're utilizing OKRs, a habit of constant reflection, and the flexibility to adjust to new situations as they arise. While it is admirable to strive for a world in which all efforts are directed solely toward improving Outcomes, it is likely to take more than simply asking "better" questions when drafting OKRs to get there.

4. Strategic Prioritization

When building a product, there can be times when the team has different opinions on how to proceed with a specific feature. The rate of progress may be slowed as a result of this. If you want to avoid this kind of scenario, you should emphasize your product's qualities more. Some characteristics may be more crucial than others.

A snag in prioritization may arise if team members have competing priorities. To this end, you must carefully plan your top management product services. Your strategy could change based on what you learn from studying the market or hearing from customers.

Eliminate emotion

New competitors release new products or features often. Ruthless prioritizing means putting emotions aside and focusing on the end goal and customers' needs. So, Product Managers and teams need to develop a customer-centric and data-driven approach.

5. Gather Feedback From Your Users/Customers

Without customer feedback, a company wouldn't know if its product is good or not. If the Product Managers don't know what they're getting in return, they won't know if they're making loyal customers.

Customers' salivary encounters with the company substantially influence their long-term switching behavior and indicate the actual drivers of loyalty.

Three sorts of feedback are available.

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) asks customers, "How likely are you to suggest this product to a colleague or a friend ?" using a 0-10 point scale.
  • Rating of the level of satisfaction with a product or service that a customer expresses after interacting with customer service representatives or completing some other type of transaction.
  • Feature requests are vital in gauging market needs and determining what to build next based on customer feedback.

The product team must collect post-launch feedback to determine if a new product or feature met expectations or needed refinement. Here’s a feedback loop you can consider using:

6. Understand Your Audience

Unsatisfied customers often depart because they don't believe the company cares about them. Research show that less than 1% of a company's customers make their voices heard. This indicates that nearly all of their clients belong to the "silent majority." You should reach out to this silent majority people to seek their opinions to understand your customer's demands and needs better.

Minimum Viable Experiments (MVEs) help you learn what customers want

Develop MVEs before MVPs. MVEs require little-to-no engineering. Product Managers should use InVision and Sketch to create prototypes and get customer feedback. MVP creation is faster and more feedback-driven. Modern life has many competing needs, so client feedback is important.

Focus on people, not users

Customer feedback concerns people. Humane feedback requests are thoughtful. If you want long-lasting client relationships, be genuine and thoughtful.

Thank customers for their input

You can't bypass this feedback phase. If customers realize their suggestions are implemented, loyalty rises 97%. Incredible odds!

The process of regularly collecting customer feedbacks and making improvements to your product based on these learnings is known as the product feedback loop. Well-executed feedback loops are powerful. It affects customer retention, a company's top priority.

7. Examine and Analyze the Performance

This is one of the oldest and most effective project management techniques, and exceptional managers insist on making it a requirement. Bring everyone together for a meeting to examine the project's flaws and the project management tactics needed to fix them.

As a bonus, you'll receive an opportunity to learn and grow as a team member. As a project manager, this practice will help you identify individuals on your team who may benefit from additional training in project management.

8. Understand Business Goals

How does your company determine whether an attempt was successful? In what ways does the product strategy contribute to the larger goals and objectives of the business? Who are your ideal customers, and what needs are they looking to have met by purchasing your product? Spend time learning what concerns CEOs and other stakeholders (including users!) the most, and match yourself with their priorities whenever it's practicable. 

9. Speak With Your Team 

Your sales team is in continual connection with potential customers. As a result, they have vital insights into the market landscape, your product's specific strengths, and limitations, and the problems customers seek to solve when they come to your product.

Similarly, your customer support team knows better how actual consumers utilize the product, not how you believe they should utilize it. Participate in your team's customer support calls to gain insight into which elements of your product require higher priority and discover the most frequent problems, complaints, and questions your team is fielding.

Define and review quality criteria throughout the project's lifecycle. The vague idea of "quality" that all deliverables must meet is often a problem in creative projects. What works well for one client might not be good enough for another. 

It's normal for developers to have questions or concerns about even the most basic aspects of a complex technology project. So that they can complete their current task, it is your responsibility to resolve any questions that hold them up as soon as possible. 

Imagine yourself as the JIRA for developer support questions; you won't be expected to provide solutions yourself, but it will be your responsibility to ensure those questions are addressed as soon as possible. Don't "go dark," that's of utmost importance. You should let people know when you'll be back online and what they should do if they get blocked while you're away or if you're going to be away from your computer for an extended period (for example, because you're on vacation or extremely busy).

10. Be Good at Competitor Analysis

Spend time learning about the industry as a whole before diving into the specifics of each competitor. An in-depth market examination verifies consumer demands, technological shifts, and monetary possibilities. With this kind of insight, you can put your market analysis into practice.

Let's start with the fundamentals of conducting a competitive analysis. Involve the product marketing group in your efforts; they conduct similar studies and can likely provide valuable customer feedback.

To effectively analyze the competition, you should do the following:

  • List all your competitors
  • Examine company websites, financial information, customer reviews, and press releases
  • If possible, try the products
  • Document user experience (UX), functionality issues, and customer information
  • Customer reviews can reveal product strengths and weaknesses
  • Competitor analysis report – these templates are helpful
  • Share your report with the product, sales, and marketing

11. Learn to Conduct Surveys

You can improve product growth, customer retention, and product roadmapping with the information gleaned from a well-designed product survey that probes users' needs, wants, and purchase habits. 

Collecting valuable information is as simple as conducting customer interviews, sending surveys, and analyzing the results. The good news is that practical, user-friendly tools like zeda.io have made the process much quicker and simpler. Effective survey design can lead to credible information and, in turn, help guide product decisions.

 All you need to do is –

  • Define survey goals
  • Identify audience   
  • Design questions 
  • Design look
  • Analyze and report your data
  • Clean data
  • Use your data

12. Master Product Discovery

The product discovery process aims to create market-driven products. Product discovery reduces failure and ensures customers want your products. It allows you and your team to focus on users' issues and requirements, allowing ongoing research and development.

Remember that releasing features is not always the end goal of product discovery. Instead, you should foster a learning culture to steadily and iteratively enhance the quality of your product. The delivery of features is not always the end goal of product discovery. Instead, you should foster a learning culture to steadily and iteratively enhance the quality of your product.

Tips on how to improve your product discovery work.

Discover user needs

The product discovery process begins with identifying broad challenges. Your product team should focus on high-level goals or themes, not specifics.

Understand

To identify challenges, you must understand the user needs your product solves. Product teams rely on quantitative and qualitative research at this stage. User research, focus groups, observation, customer interviews, data analytics, competitive research, and empathy mapping are helpful.

Define

After understanding user needs, define them. The steps are:

  • Problematize

Aim for a single, succinct statement that captures the essence of the problem you're attempting to address. This facilitates effective communication and unites the team behind a single goal. Loosely formulated problems are challenging to keep people focused on.

  • Problem-check

Verify that the problems you're attempting to address genuinely require attention. When it comes to your users, how severe is their discomfort right now? Is there anything to gain by trying to fix the problem?

  • Prioritize

Fundamentally, you need to prioritize which of the problems you've discovered to solve first. There are several common frameworks that product teams might utilize for this purpose. Numerous prioritization methods exist for determining which tasks should be prioritized.

Solution

After identifying user problems, reframe them into manageable chunks. During reframing, you ideate, prototype, and test prioritized solution ideas. This is due diligence before delivering products and features.

Ideate

You ideate to solve user issues. Your team can get creative with innovation exercises, ideation techniques, and design sprints. After proposed ideas, your team can evaluate their impact and feasibility, prototype, and present the best ones to customers.

Prototypes help teams showcase their ideas

Sketches, mockups, clickable prototypes, MVPs, and similar products are all prototypes. Tests determine if proposed solutions can solve the problem. A/B testing, customer interviews, user testing, surveys, and beta testing are popular.

Solution-focused

At the solution stage, nothing is built, but you can present ideas to users and stakeholders. Solutions don't always feature.

13. Be Good with Customer Interviews

In-depth conversations with customers reveal qualitative insights that can't be gleaned from product analytics alone. It's a type of user research that aims to find out the "why" and "how" questions about your product's reception. One of the cardinal rules of product management is that a PM's understanding of customers' pain points increases in proportion to the time she spends conversing with those customers.

Therefore, it's crucial to ask insightful questions in customer interviews. In this context, excellent questions should be:

  • What prompted you to purchase our product in the first place?
  • What makes you want to suggest us to others? (Why/why not?)
  • What is your favorite feature of our product?
  • What is your least favorite aspect of our product? (and then inquire as to why) How are you now utilizing our product?
  • What would you think if X didn't exist?
  • What do you enjoy about the way you do things now?

14. Be Data Savvy – Use Product Analytics Tools

Product analytics helps conceptualize products. Understanding what features customers use and don't use is facilitated by tracking user events. You can make your product more streamlined, portable, and quick by omitting less important but still present features. Product analytics tools are the most effective method of satisfying customers' needs. After all, it's impossible to cater to individual tastes without first collecting feedback from consumers.

More attention to numbers makes products more marketable. Customer loyalty increases when you make a product that people can't get enough of. Product Managers can use analytical tools to evaluate user satisfaction and investigate user complaints.

Further, these product analytical tools help you:

  • Define your goals 
  • Create a plan to track, and 
  • Choose the right product

Product analytics platforms have a lot of different functions. Some of these are tracking, segmenting, and creating user profiles based on your preferences, notifications, dashboards, funnels, and tools for measuring. Simply put, zeda.io is one of the best tool for Product Managers and teams to use for product analytics.

15. Be a Learning Machine

A Product Manager role calls for a high level of practical expertise. These are the technical abilities you've cultivated. However, in the world of product management, soft skills are not just essential but valuable in any profession and everyday life.

A Product Manager’s responsibilities are two-dimensional. The first is customer service; the second is product handling.

You'll spend a lot of time with the product when starting a new role. My product goes where? How can I help the team? When to use user stories? Product development involves many factors.

As you gain rank and responsibility, working with others becomes more crucial. Your capacity to implement ideas and analyses determines their usefulness. To put ideas into action, teamwork within the organization is essential. Soft skills such as communication, persuasion, negotiation, and evangelism are essential to this process.

Therefore, in a nutshell, you should be willing to broaden your horizons and consider acquiring new "soft skills" in product management.

16. Have a Clear Roadmap and Plan

A plan and product roadmap can make or break a product. If they aren't precise, reliable, and well-thought-out, your product and your team won't know where to go. And as a result, if you have a strategy with a vision that no one follows, you'll end up with a road map that doesn't lead anywhere. And that's the last thing you want from a tool for communication that's so important and relies so much on a clear direction.

You can use product roadmaps as beneficial tools. But if you use them wrong or don't think about how you're using them, they could hurt you and your product development teams.

It's essential to take your time when making a product roadmap. To make a roadmap that accurately shows your team's priorities to internal stakeholders, external stakeholders, and possible customers, you need time, patience, and clear communication.

17. Become an Expert on Your Product and the Problem it Solves

Market analysis can often predict the success or failure of a product. Product Managers conduct extensive research to understand consumer wants and competitors' performance. Product Managers with solid research skills can maintain in-depth knowledge and expertise of the product and the market. 

Here are a few tips to consider to enhance your problem-solving abilities– 

Problem definition before the solution

It may sound obvious, but many problems have not been resolved because there has not been a concerted effort to comprehend and name the problem entirely. If you want to tackle a problem effectively, you need to know the problem before you can come up with a solution. In many cases, the solution becomes more evident once the true nature of the problem has been identified.

Identify the problem’s cause

Explore the processes and procedures that led to the issue.

If you're stumped on how to solve a problem, it can be helpful to have key players explain the fundamentals of the issues at play so you can understand how things are right now. Don't assume you have all the answers and must, therefore, provide a quick fix. Instead, it's important to talk to the right people to grasp the issue at hand and how it arose entirely. After all, before you can begin working on a solution to a problem, you need to have a firm grasp on the essentials of the process or the nature of the situation. Always keep in mind that fixing problems requires more than a quick fix.

Visualize the problem

Although this may not always be applicable, pictures may be a great aid in finding answers to questions. If you're having trouble seeing the complexities or scenarios you're trying to improve; a simple diagram/matrix may help. If a problem is becoming too complex or overwhelming, you can use anything from PowerPoint to a whiteboard or a piece of paper to help you break things down. In addition, sketching the current state of the problem can help you think more clearly by isolating the source of the issue and providing a more precise outline of how to approach solving it.

Brainstorm ideas

Pursuing a straightforward answer does not imply dismissal or dismissal of the problem's complexity. Baseline your thinking after you've absorbed the problem's essentials so you may revisit the situation with new eyes.

The next step is to consider all options for addressing the problem. Those who are adept at finding answers to problems do so by employing their critical thinking skills and accepting that there is no single "correct" answer. Focusing on simple, creative ideas is essential for issue solving, but this has little to do with how creative you are. Instead, it's how you approach a problem and its solutions.

Avoid dwelling on the problem's origins or the methods your organization has previously employed to address it. To solve problems, you must be willing to think creatively and come up with novel approaches.

Improve the solution to avoid future issues

Having compiled a list of potential answers, it is time to study and evaluate them. Making sense of a big list helps to cluster related ideas. You can make a more informed choice if you consider the likely results of each solution in light of your product's goals. Bringing in the right people on the team and other stakeholders to hear your final thoughts and provide feedback will also aid in making the best decision.

18. Be Comfortable Working With Cross-functional Teams

It takes the combined efforts of many groups, including marketing, sales, development, design, and support, to create products that customers and the market receive rapidly. Product Managers must work with numerous teams, but perhaps none more important than development. This is because your development team can give you accurate estimates of how long specific tasks will take.

However, the contributions of all teams are vital. A Product Manager's ability to stay on task and avoid duplicating efforts depends on their ability to maintain open lines of communication with everyone whose efforts affect the product and the customer's experience.

19. Make Emotional Intelligence Your Superpower

A good Product Manager can navigate a customer interview. Still, a great one can empathize with interviewees, tuning into their body language and emotions to determine pain points the feature or product will address. Emotional intelligence helps you overcome external and internal hurdles to deliver an excellent product.

Emotional intelligence has 4 traits, and those are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Good relationships
  • Social savvy
  • Self-management

20. Build Your Network with PMs in the Similar Community

Because of the nature of the job, Product Managers may also wish to network with those in similar positions for mutual support, advice, and companionship.

The most important advantage of participating in communities of like-minded individuals is the enhancement of one's networking abilities, the development of relationships with others who share one's interests, and the acquisition of valuable resources and tools. 

The process of networking is simple and motivating. Networking entails interacting with people outside your immediate workplace to build professional relationships. However, even hearing the word "networking" can cause anxiety. The key to successful networking is preparation, just as it is for everything else in Product.

21. Examine Company Fit

An unsuitable workplace can harm even the best Product Managers with the most developed core competencies. Understanding your professional wants and needs is critical at this point. You must be able to assess a potential employer and determine whether their wants and needs align with your own.

A Product Manager's job description is not standard. Each role is defined by the organization's size, the type of product, the stage of the product, the industry, and other factors. The trick is to figure out whether a role fits your product management style.

Final Thoughts

The field of product management is highly satisfying professionally. Seeing a product go live after years of hard work is one of the most satisfying experiences. If you acquire the necessary skills and mindset, you can excel in the Product Manager role.

Now is the  perfect moment to assess how realistic your targets for performance have been in the past. In retrospect, were you successful in doing what you set out to do? With regards to key product performance indicators, how did you fare? Considering the passing of another year, what would be the one thing you would change? How will you evaluate the coming year in three ways? You can improve your chances of future success by reviewing your progress thus far and plotting a course or reading some good product management books for the future.

It's the perfect moment to reflect on your satisfaction with your job and assess how well you've done so far. To what extent do you still find yourself challenged? Do you think you've finally moved past it? Perhaps you feel ready for promotion in your product management position. If you're eyeing a promotion, it's important to ensure you're performing up to par in your current position. Here is where the OKRs we discussed earlier can prove helpful. The same criteria you use to win support for your product strategy can be used to lobby for your own promotion.

When applying for jobs outside your current firm, it is important to prepare thoughtful questions to ask potential employers. Even if you don't find a new product role in the new year, you should still prepare yourself for success in the first few months on the job. You'll be well on your way to becoming a good Product Manager if you use these best product management practices.

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