What should product managers focus on, Joshua?

Brigit

Joshua Herzig-Marx is a startup founder and loves to establish products and organizations. Today he is serving as the head of product at Brigit since September 2020.

Joshua Herzig-Marx

Josh graduated from Middlebury College in 1999 and did his MBA from Babson College in 2008. He is the founder of “Incentive Targeting,” a retail marketing company technology that Google acquired in 2012. He has served Alyce for three years as head of product and advisor. He has been managing products and services at The Capital Network, Digital promotion, GasBuddy, and Google in various capacities in his professional career. He has a long experience in Product management (PM) and now mentoring product managers, founders, and product leaders.

In an online session with young product managers, he shared wisdom on some of the critical issues of product management.

  • He started by explaining the career of product management as an early-mid carrier job. Most people stumbled in this line from other fields like customer success, sales, and engineering.
  • He advised that people becoming PM is specific about the kind of product they want to manage. Develop your passion and identify your interest that will make you a successful product manager.
  • Josh suggested the pathway for people looking for PM positions. He strongly advised me to start applying and going to the interviews at companies. Having conversations with alumni and meeting with other product managers will be insightful. This process will give a clear understanding of the companies, their working environment, and products. With time and experience, you will get more specific with your network and find a great company aligned with your interest.
  • Answering a question of search engine optimization is still relevant today for product management, he described it depends on the growth channels of a company. Most successful companies have a single growth channel. Today, consumer companies have three growth channels. First is paid acquisitions which include paid advertising, search ads, display ads, and tik-to ads. The second is virality or referral-based acquisitions, and the third is content marketing. SEO comes under content marketing, where highly interested people will search the market and write content about what other people are looking at over the internet. It is a way to bring the product to the top in search engines and education about it.
  • Josh stressed the audience to develop better undersetting of their product. The aspirants must learn about technology by a lot of reading from books and online resources available. They should ask a lot of questions from engineers and team members about their procedure. What are the methods and criteria they are following for tool selections?

Here are some essential roles a PM should keep in mind to fulfill his job and develop a successful product:

  • The PM should understand what the company wants to accomplish with a clear vision and strategy to achieve that goal. If the PM must instruct engineers how to work, provide estimates and decide the details of everything in production, there are slim chances of success in a business. The PM is responsible for providing the business context of the product to the engineers, designers, data scientists, quality assurance, and others involved.
  • The PMs should actively involve the engineers as soon as possible in the discovery and design process. Early startup founders should be responsible for their product and work as PM themselves to find market product fit. Having clarity and understanding, the engineering team will build what is needed rather than only what is asked for. It will improve product quality, reduce revision cycle time to deliver more value.
  • The product manager should be providing only functional requirements. The specifications should be left on the engineering and technology lead, and quality assurance will check them independently. Requirements are the outcomes needed to be, and specifications are how they are achieved. Data security, as an example, the product should be secure is the functional requirement, and the specific level of complexity for a password is a specification.
  • A PM should not shy from testing a product. Test the ideas when you are not sure; he recommends the book “The right it” by Alberto Savoia, which provides a specific version of the framework of riskiest assumptions and how to test them when you are uncertain.
  • The PM is responsible for building the roadmap for the product. From the iron triangle of project management, you can achieve only two from better, faster, and cheaper at a time. You cannot be good at fulfilling the dates and getting quality stuff out of the door simultaneously, and as a PM, you need to find a balance between these two.

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