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Friday, October 17, 2014

Stuff Software Engineers should know about product management!

Success will most likely come your way if you have a great Product Manager in the team. However, not all teams are that lucky. In some team setups, senior tech leads or architects also double up as product managers. Even otherwise, it is good to know some product management to take sound decisions in your architecture, code, deployment and metrics.

Here are some tips to build a great product when software engineers manage the product:

1. Know your customers and their problems.

Who is the end user? Meet and talk to them even if they are sitting in a warehouse!

Ask if you should include feature X before they can use it? Is this an incremental value addition or a game changer? This will get you to MVP quickly.

2. What is your delivery channel?
 Mobile, web or multichannel presence. Do your research and pick one to start with.

3. List and estimate non-functional requirements
How many concurrent users? Acceptable latency? Downtime? You get the gist.

4. Release fast and release often
Take customer feedback and iterate. Building the most awesome product takes time. And time is often a luxury. 

Releasing product often keeps you on track. Intensity and quality of the feedback helps you prioritize the next set of features to code. Feature prioritization is the key. It also ensure that the team is productive.

If your customers say "I want to use it today", you are on track. Make the feature available to them in pre-production.

Such interaction also saves you from big software  re-architectures and re-implementation.

Caution: Ensure that your customers spend serious time interacting with your software.

5. Measure your success (or failure!)
In helps you analyze what's working and what's not. Get rid of later and reinforce the former. Set goals and strive towards it.

If you can measure metrics like conversion, sales, traffic, API calls etc in real time, nothing like it!

6. Experiment
Fear not! Capture those new ideas from the team.Let the numbers and your intuition find its way to newer and successful experiments.

That one new feature can be the game changer!

7. Provide good customer service!
Monitor your application and support it. FAQs, Documentation, Tickets, Training etc are some options to chose from.

And may you become a great product manager!

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