Scrapping the Roadmap: Navigating Products Through Change, a BrainStation’s Digital Leadership Event, looked at how to manage products in a time of crisis.
Product Management is increasingly popular as the technology industry grows. The role gives you an opportunity listen to your stakeholders (customers, investors, etc), and communicate their needs to the development and design teams. Whether you are in a Product Management role or not, Product Management skills are incredibly useful in the technology industry.
So as a current or aspiring Product Manager, how do you keep your teams constantly iterating on the product? Here are six tools that I find useful on the path of launching a technology product:
(1) Reading: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
This is a must read by Jeff Sutherland who is the co-creator of scrum. What better way to learn agile and scrum (the backbone to efficient product management) than directly from the creator of the method himself. The first tool in Product Management is knowledge, and this is the perfect book to get you started.
(2) Idea Generation: Product Hunt
Product Management requires a lot of creativity and out of the box thinking. When I want to see up and coming ideas on user experience, features and more – I check out Product Hunt. It’s a great place to get your creative juices flowing. Looking at all of the product releases there can help jumpstart your thinking on your own product feature additions.
(3) Idea Collaboration: Trello
The role of Product Manager means that you are assessing the users’ needs, your stakeholders’ opinions, and your development team’s expertise – to come to one joint agreement on what to build and how to build it. Trello is a free web tool that reminds me of categorizing sticky notes to a wall, but on steroids. Multiple users create cards, the cards can be organized into groups (to do now, doing, to do later etc), colour is added, cards are assigned, and comments can be posted. It is the best way for teams to collaborate on a product idea.
(4) Design Mockup: Balsamiq
Before you even begin development, you must first outline the user flow and user experience. Using a design mockup tool like Balsamiq allows you to drag and drop software components like buttons, menus and text onto various layouts, and helps you better envision your product application. From there you can show stakeholders and collect feedback, even before laying down the first line of code.
(5) Planning & Tracking: JIRA
You have your ideas, your designs and your plans. Now development begins. The best way to keep on track of your sprint plans, is to use an agile planning tool like JIRA. JIRA is a web tool that allows you to layout your sprints, assign user stories to individual developers, generate burn charts, and watch development progress from “To Do”, to “In Development” and finally “Ready”. Your Quality Assurance team can also create “tickets” when they find issues. This way you can track how far your teams are from completing a project, and you can highlight issues you find along the way. It is hands down the most important Product Management tool I use everyday.
(6) User Feedback: UserVoice
Being a Product Manager doesn’t just mean releasing new features. It’s about monitoring the result of what has been released to inform future product decisions. This is where user testing comes in. With tools like UserVoice, you can collect feedback from your users directly from your website or inside your applications. Ask them what they think of the new navigation bar, or if they noticed the new chat feature yet. Use this information to help navigate your future product decisions.
You are now ready! Equipped with these first six tools in your product management toolkit; you can take on the next technology innovation and manage it from start to finish. Now go make something innovative!