10 lifehacks for a quick dive into a product

1. Become a user of your product or find one. Developers rarely have real-life experience with the product they create.

It’s important to actually use your product (=hypotheses), but when it comes to decision making, you should always rely on data (=confirmation of hypotheses by ordinary users). For example, the Vkontakte  (social network) team communicates using the platform’s built-in messenger to discuss their day-to-day work, which is the same one that is used by the service’s core audience. This allows to quickly find problems and ideas that can be used to improve the service, as well as to better «scan» feedback from users.

2. Subscribe to Support and comments in Store.

This refers to «being in touch» with the users. This point also covers googling comments about the company on the web.
It is good practice to use a Slack channel to collect people’s opinions and any information relative to a project, as well as to have discussions about it there. This useful data will be kept in one place. We recommend reading users’ messages not only during launch, but also throughout the course of the project work.

3. Find out who really makes the decisions — listen to them and help them.

In any company a PM attracts a lot of attention from various colleagues — which is, unfortunately, not always constructive. So it’s always a good idea to identify opinion leaders from both organizational and expert points of view.
First of all, it’s the sales managers who definitely have the necessary expertise: daily communication with users allows them to acquire a gut feeling for valuable feedback.
On the contrary, a tester or a developer of some associated team, quite likely, has no idea what your users are thinking. So when he/she decides to come to you with a proposal it could be a hit, or it could not, but it will definitely eat up your valuable time.

4. Expand networking in your team and associated teams as quickly as possible.

It’s a story about trust. At the very start of your work at a company, you should get as much input as possible and try to gain the trust of your associates (sales managers, lawyers, and others). Find out what problems they have — it could be useful to you later.

5. Keep an eye on successful colleagues and emulate them.

It’s worthwhile to get to know what interesting things the other PMs do and how they do them. For example, you will spend your time productively by sitting in on meetings of associated teams to see how they conduct them. You can also organize a joint lunch where colleagues can share their work methodology with you.
The main idea is that it should no longer be a mystery to you why Peter is a strong PM. Nor should you be in the dark as to which skills or experience the Chief PM considers invaluable.

6. Consult with decision-makers in difficult situations.

Complicated issues are a nightmare that any PM will always face. So, feel free to seek advice from top-managers. «I have such a problem — what would you do?»
For example, at Yandex, you could safely come up to Ilya Segalovich (co-founder) and he always found time to talk. People usually like to give advice, so profit from this and use this to develop yourself and, in turn, develop your company.

7. Communicate closely with business, development, and marketing departments — the primary money acquirers. They are the most powerful allies of a PM.

Help them and be sure you always know what is important to them.
This will help you understand how to boost your benefits to the company and, consequently, how to create awesome solutions. This is how the company will recognize your importance.

8. Analytics is a quick victory for a PM. Implement at least the basics.

The lion’s share of people trust the numbers. If you become friends with Google Analytics, it will be much easier for you to communicate and negotiate with people, for example, about new features that you want to implement.
«We will switch to a new monetization model tomorrow» — it will sound more convincing not just because you think you are a cool PM, but because your idea is based on an analytical approach.
Create summaries, or better yet real-time dashboards of the main sales funnels and users’ activities. Observe them daily and analyze their dynamics.

9. If you are given a report and you have no idea what to make of it, get deeply involved in the topic, or find an assistant who does and will protect you from possible risks.

A marketer, a developer or a project manager can speak a language that is strange and hard to understand — for you, at least. For instance, you ask the marketer why only 1 person leaves a request out of 1000 people who came to a landing page. In response, the marketer usually buries you under marketing abbreviations that you are not really familiar with, and concludes with «we have big problems».
There are 2 ways to fix this:
  • thoroughly studying the issue by yourself,
  • finding an assistant who is in the loop, and who will help avoid potential problems.

10. Train your memory. It is useful to both memorize things as well as to write them down.

At the start — especially — it will be necessary to keep tons of information in mind. You have to structure and remember things, in order to shape a single information space. Let’s say, you have spoken with a marketer, and then with a developer. The conversation with the developer will benefit from the marketer’s information. Unfortunately, this task is complicated by the fact that in a company, you may encounter many inconsistencies due to the fact that people don’t always clearly know each other’s areas of responsibility.

ProductCamp team

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